Bill Bryson's hilarious tour of his adopted country: the book that was voted the nation's favourite book on modern Britain in a World Book Day BBC poll.
Bill Bryson is much loved for his bestselling travel books, from The Lost Continent to Down Under, but Notes from a Small Island has earned a particularly special place in the nation's heart (a national poll for World Book Day in 2003 voted it the book that best represents Britain). His acclaimed A Short History of Nearly Everything won the Aventis Prize for Science Books and the Descartes Science Communication Prize. His latest bestsellers are The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and At Home.- A Short History of Private Life. He has now returned to live in the UK with his wife and family. www.billbryson.co.uk
Bryson, who hails from Iowa, has spent the last 20 years living in England and writing about the often nettlesome relationship between his two countries, especially regarding their shared language (Made in America, LJ 2/1/95). His latest work is "a kind of valedictory tour around the green and kindly island" before he moved with his family back to the United States. With Paul Theroux's Kingdom by the Sea in hand, Bryson braves the inhospitably soggy fall weather to trudge from Dover, London, coastal villages, Wales, Scotland, and back home to Yorkshire on a helter-skelter seven-week journey that only a reader well versed in the geography of the region will follow, since there are no maps to aid the (American) reader. In fact, Bryson is writing here more for his British fans, who no doubt roar with mirth as he gently pokes fun at their excessive forbearance and fondness for Cagney and Lacey repeats. He is hilarious when transcribing a conversation with unsuspecting locals, especially in Glaswegian pubs, but merely dumb when he indulges in a curious (is it British?) bathroom humor. His portrait is certainly heartfelt, and one wonders, as he chokes up describing a stately, vanishing old England, if he will truly find happiness watching the 67 television channels in his native land. For all travel collections.-Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"
"Not a book that should be read in public, for fear of emitting loud snorts" The Times "Laugh-out-loud funny" The Good Book Guide "Splendid... What's enjoyable is that there's as much of Bryson in here as there is of Britain" Sunday Telegraph "Bryson is funny because he is not afraid to give completely of himself" Daily Express "Astute and funny...a tribute to [Britain's] enchantments by an unabashed anglophile." New York Times