This book is a real achievement. It takes one notion, 'style', and justifies its wide importance and gives a full, detailed and timely appraisal of this (well explained) notion's applications, misapplications and relevance to wide areas of linguistics. Coupland achieves this with a style that is authoritative, opinionated and approachable. Opinions are clearly marked as such, making for an interesting and transparent account. The way he juxtaposes his conceptualisation of Style with previous accounts and alternative approaches / explanations to the study of language performance is a breath of fresh air - I am surprised how many times I was delighted by the inclusion of various areas of linguistic theory and research that, in my opinion, should indeed be considered when discussing language variation, discourse and performance. `Style', or `styling', is not, therefore, treated as a sub-category of variationism and alike; instead, its wide reaching relevance is explained and evaluated (and re-formulated in places) in a valuable resource.
This book manages to cover wide areas of (socio)linguistics in an approachable and relevant way. It is also littered with words of wisdom for new researchers that have been gleaned from years of experience of studying language performance, variation and discourse - and so is a very important book. My research area isn't really 'Style', or so I thought... now I think that Coupland's account of Style makes it relevant for my, and indeed most, areas of applied linguistics. I knew a lot before about this area before reading this book, but it has given me further insights and made connections between fields and notions that I would have otherwise missed. It also introduces many ideas in an informed and concise way which should put it at the top of many MA reading lists. Again, it's a highly recommended read.