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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Brit should read this book - Jolly good show old chap!
From the moment I picked this book up in WH Smith at Heathrow airport I knew that whatever else happened on my business trip to Istanbul, the journey was already worthwhile.
Bill Bryson has an insightful view of Britain and the British that can only come from living 'among us' for a considerable period.
His understanding of the British people is uncanny and...
Published on 20 Nov 1998

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A humorous, true to life account of the way Britain is!
If I wasn't studying this for my A-Level English, I would have enjoyed it even more than I did! Bryson's use of language and his continuous list of examples, adds to the enjoyment and overall readability of the book. His cameo portraits-especially the unforgettable Vince-create a clear and accurate view of the people that surround us daily. This book is a definite...
Published on 5 Jun 2000


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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Brit should read this book - Jolly good show old chap!, 20 Nov 1998
By A Customer
From the moment I picked this book up in WH Smith at Heathrow airport I knew that whatever else happened on my business trip to Istanbul, the journey was already worthwhile.
Bill Bryson has an insightful view of Britain and the British that can only come from living 'among us' for a considerable period.
His understanding of the British people is uncanny and more akin to that of a Brit who has lived in the US for a long time, rather than an American that has lived in Britain.
I spent much of my time while reading the book laughing out loud in public places (which I know is not the done thing for an Englishman - sorry !)
This book asks some of the same qustions I asked when I returned to my native Britain from a period living in the USA.
I finished the book in 2 days and immediately sought out the only English language copy of Bryson's other classic 'Notes from a Big Country' in Istanbul.
But that's another story...
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rib-tickling!, 25 Aug 2004
By 
H Pedder "bookworm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
My friend bought this book for me to read whilst i travelled solo to the USA.As i had a 7 hour wait in NY airport, i got stuck in to this. I'm sure every Newark Airport worker and visitor at that time thought i was a stark raving English loony! This is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek book which simultaneously made me cringe with embarrassment (yep, we Brits actually DO the things he says) whilst puffing my chest out in pride at being British! Bryson takes the reader on a tour around Britain venturing from one end of the land to the other and I really felt like i was there with him, through the strife and rain (of course). His narrative is informative (i learnt a heck of a lot about my own country...from an American! Of all people!) and comical. He introduces the reader to typical (and not-so-typical) British folk and ponders over such things as the unanswerable question of 'where have all the red telephone booths gone?'. I never realised that i had such a beautiful, diverse land for exploration on my own doorstep. A hilarious, rib-tickling book which literally did have me snorting aloud with laughter (and consequently ducking my head in embarrassment!).Great for reading whilst on your travels.It MAY make you want to come back home...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars reminders of home, 6 April 1999
By A Customer
I read this book during an extended period (12 months) working in Arizona. Having travelled extensively in my homeland, I found many of the comments Mr Bryson makes to be so true of my own experience. I laughed, smiled and maybe even wept as I was reminded of all the good (and occasionally not so good) things about Britain. Whilst Mr Bryson presumably wrote this book for his fellow Americans, much of the humour seems to be of a more English type, perhaps reflecting the darker more bleak humour of northern England where Mr Bryson lived for so long. The only thing that prevented me giving this book a 5 was that it made me homesick for the green hills and "dark satanic mills" of my beloved Lancashire (although reading "The Lost Continent" on returning to England did not provoke similar feelings for the USA).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LB's thoughts, 26 Sep 2003
I have read and re-read Notes From A small Island more times than I can count! It is brilliantly written and Mr Brysons observations are hillarious. My favourite being the problems with a Kent Landlady and a counterpane!! I have read several of his books but this one does it for me every time. He is top of my 'People I would Like To have Round For Dinner' list!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book which makes you proud of Britain., 27 July 1999
By A Customer
Bill Bryson is grumpy and harsh, yet somehow he made my heart fill up with pride for our own little country. He had a hard time and sometimes he deserved it, he made some parts of Britain seem awful, yet he identified what it is about the nation that make being British very special. After a short holiday in my own country (which was reasonably miserable) I found it difficult to understand what it was that attracted so many foreign tourists. This guy explained it for me, and perhaps even made appreciated our own precious little island a bit more. And talk about laughing out loud. Read this book in the privacy of your home-unless you like rolling about on the ground hysterically in public. And have plenty of paper tissues on hand as it brings tears to the eyes (yes,it is really that funny). Never has there been a book with such hilarity and dry wit.Marvellous!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Picked it up and couldn't put it down till I'd finished it, 9 Aug 2000
By A Customer
I'd never read any of Bill Brysons books before last week, and have now finished three! I found it easy to empathise with Bill - the places he stayed, the sights he saw, the people he met all sounded frighteningly familiar. Especially when he was visiting places I too have lived in or passed through I just had to keep on reading...did he go to the same awful B&B as I unfortunately stayed in? What did he make of the town I called home for three years? Compulsive reading. Having rapidly read Big Country and Walk in the Woods after this, I can't wait for to start on Down Under. Having also travelled extensively in Oz, I wonder if Bill loved the country as much as I do. I suppose that is the big appeal of these books for me - does somebody else view the world in the same way as I do!
I highly reccommend this book to anyone who has travelled in the UK, is thinking of doing so, or just wants a laugh!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read nothing else in '99, make sure you read this!, 28 Jan 1999
By A Customer
I haven't been especially impressed by the TV serialisation of the book currently being shown in the UK, but a friend recommended the book as a much better prospect. During an otherwise miserable (and painful) week lying on my back in a hospital bed, Bill Bryson took me on a magical tour of the British Isles. We visited places both familiar and not-so-well-known to me, but all the time my experienced guide eloquently captured the spirit of the British people, our enigmatic traditions and strange little ways, and he even managed to mention the peculiar-sounding village where I live. This book is truly one in a million, and anyone with even the slightest affection for the British Isles and the peoples of this realm will find instant gratification and endless giggles in this wonderful tome. Pure Escapism. By the way, I'm not on a commission!!!!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travel Guide?, 22 July 2003
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Just why 'Notes from a Small Island' is classed as a travel book is beyond me. Reading this book will not tell you the top ten tourist attractions in Aberdeen or the best accommodation in Oxfordshire. This book is a deftly written, toe-curlingly humorous, semi-anthropological analysis of Britain and the British through the eyes of a genuine Anglophile.
From the moment he steps off the ferry and spends the night in a shelter on Dover promenade, Bill Bryson's fascination with all things British becomes a lifetime's work.
Often self-deprecating, openly admiring, occasionally critical. His journey encompasses the inexplicable - e.g. couples sitting outside a beach hut in a gale happily trying to read the Daily Mirror; the mundane - e.g. our collective fondness for small, hard, whitish biscuits; and the glorious - e.g. the staggering vistas of the Yorkshire Dales.
Like a good stand-up impressionist, Bryson again and again finds our defining tics, twitches and mannerisms which make his readers chuckle and wince in recognition. "Oh yes" you'll remark, "we do that don't we."
A lovely book that you'll return to often.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank God for Bill!...., 2 April 1999
By A Customer
Mark Brennan (brennanmg@cf.ac.uk) from Bristol, England Thank God for Bill.... There are very few writers of whom you think, I'd like to have a beer with that guy.. Bill Bryson is one such however. His ability to poke fun at us all, Brits, Americans, Europeans, and any number of other nationalities, is remarkable... and yet he does it with a kind of wicked charm that makes it nigh on impossible to take offence. Bryson caused me great embarassment when I read this book on a south-bound train from Leeds, as I kept emitting snorts of laughter which resulted in my fellow passengers moving to other carriages..
I love this book, and I love its American successor, Notes from a Big Country too. In this one, his whimsical tour through Britain and his reflections on what makes us the people and place that we are is truly hilarious.
Bryson has respect for those things which are most important in any country, but little respect for the traditional tourist trail and sentimental tripe. He can surely claim honorary Brit status, should he and the family (Mrs Bryson and the children, including "little Jimmy", the child that never was) ever plan to return to the UK.
A Walk in the Woods is also well worth a read, for those who got to know Bryson's old school friend Stephen Katz in the chronicle of their adolescent meander through Europe, Neither Here or There. He is a hardier man than he looks!
But of them all, Notes from a Small Island remains my favourite, because it reminds me why despite all my moans, I still love this country. Those who say Americans have no sense of irony have obviously never read Bill Bryson's book; he has it in buckets.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuine Can't Put Down Fun, 24 Oct 2004
By 
Capt I. McRae "The Ancient Mariner" (Angus, Scotland.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
You know, it takes a foreigner to really see the idiosyncracies of another culture. Bill Bryson has caught the essence of the British character, and has that rare gift of being able to take the mickey out of us without causing offence. This is one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. I'm on the way to the bookshop to see what he has to say about other places. If I have any criticism, then it has to be that he did not spend enough time in Scotland, visiting more Scottish places and gently extracting the Michael. Please Bill, another volume on Scotland. Surely the Scots are eccentric enough to give you material for a book ? I say that advisedly..........I'm a Jock myself ! :o)
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