Notes From A Small Island Paperback – 1 Aug 1996
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Bill Bryson is an unabashed Anglophile who, through a mistake of history, happened to be born and bred in Iowa. Righting that error, he spent 20 years in England before deciding to repatriate: "I had recently read that 3.7 million Americans according to a Gallup poll, believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me." That comic tone enlivens this account of Bryson's farewell walking tour of the countryside of "the green and kindly island that had for two decades been my home."
"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)
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Top Customer Reviews
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...
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.
I highly reccommend this book to anyone who has travelled in the UK, is thinking of doing so, or just wants a laugh!
This is a funny and I mean FUNNNNY book. It gave me the odd chortle on the bus to a few full belly laughs. He is perceptive and and so very readable. He switchings into the British mentality and our oddments beautifully - and although is often scathing he is never rude or offensive. And in true Brit style we can all have a laugh over a cup of tea.
The way he writes gives me the impression his great love of dear old Blighty, and from the introduction when he first set foots on our Great land he had me in stiches.
This is a real must read and I can't really wait to tackle his other books. Well done Mr Bryson - a book here that really makes me proud to be British!
Bryson deserves full marks for courage. He walks. He covers vast distances in weather that would dismay a seasoned fisherman. He risks his life along wind-blown cliffs, looking down for surf lost in driven fog or slashing rain. No-one wet, cold and hungry can maintain their humour long. Bryson conveys his feelings with honest vigour, but veneers his stress with vivid descriptions of the environment he traverses. He struggles to make sense of British Rail [something even the natives have abandoned hope of achieving], more than once falling back on irregular bus services. He suffers a day's dogleg travel to cover a twenty mile distance because no connecting line exists. Still, he persists and is often enough rewarded to make the effort worth the time. And his descriptions of these events rewards the reader through sharing his reactions yet not pointing an accusatory finger. It's "the system" that's at fault.
As an American from Iowa, Bryson may be relied on to take a detached view of Britain.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I thought it was about time that I got round to reading NFaSI so I got it as a holiday read. It's beautifully written with a number of 'laugh out loud' moments. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Bully1301
Ok so I know Mr Byson is a highly successful writer but for me it just didn't' happen . Got around 280 pages in and gave in . Read morePublished 8 days ago by Robert Thurlow
We all know we're a funny lot, us Brits, but Bill Bryson has the knack of really homing on the most bizarre idiosyncrasies with alarming accuracy! Read morePublished 14 days ago by Mrs Vikie A Shanks
New to Bill Bryson....very gripping read funny and so honest. Preferred his latest 'Little Dribbling' offering but would definitely recommend to any new discoverers of this... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Margi