A loving and hilarious—if occasionally spiky—valentine to Bill Bryson’s adopted country, Great Britain. Prepare for total joy and multiple episodes of unseemly laughter.
Twenty years ago, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to discover and celebrate that green and pleasant land. The result was Notes from a Small Island, a true classic and one of the bestselling travel books ever written. Now he has traveled about Britain again, by bus and train and rental car and on foot, to see what has changed—and what hasn’t.
Following (but not too closely) a route he dubs the Bryson Line, from Bognor Regis in the south to Cape Wrath in the north, by way of places few travelers ever get to at all, Bryson rediscovers the wondrously beautiful, magnificently eccentric, endearingly singular country that he both celebrates and, when called for, twits. With his matchless instinct for the funniest and quirkiest and his unerring eye for the idiotic, the bewildering, the appealing, and the ridiculous, he offers acute and perceptive insights into all that is best and worst about Britain today.
Nothing is more entertaining than Bill Bryson on the road—and on a tear. The Road to Little Dribbling reaffirms his stature as a master of the travel narrative—and a really, really funny guy.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Bill Bryson practically invented a new genre of travel writing with his bestseller Notes From a Small Island. Twenty years later, his observations on a much-changed Britain are even funnier. The Road to Little Dribbling explores topics like the bizarre questions posed at citizenship exams (e.g. who introduced shampoo into the UK?) and the national obsession with coffee shops (where have all the other shops gone?). Still, Bryson’s huge affection for all things British—eccentric monarchs and a classic ploughman's lunch included—really made us smile. This is feel-good Britannia with an appropriately irreverent edge.
Bryson returns to his adopted country of Britain to revisit some of his favorite sites in this followup to his bestselling Notes from a Small Island, published in 1996. He discovers that some of these places, like Dorset, a coastal city Bryson describes as "rolling perfection," remain relatively unchanged, while others have changed for better or worse. He reports that Manchester, a city he took to task in his earlier effort, has improved, though many of his compliments are backhanded. As usual, he scatters an entertaining mix of wacky anecdotes and factoids (e.g., during an eight-week period in 2009, four people in Britain were fatally trampled by cows) throughout, but his enduring mix of wonder and irascibility is what carries readers through his travels. His wry observations and self-deprecating humor keep him from coming off as a bitter cynic, and his lyrical way with words keeps the pages turning.
Perhaps not as funny as NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, but just as informative. Bryson is hard to beat.
Bill can still inject humor into the simplest aspects of living and is at his best when commenting on the Brits. But when (and why) did he start with the snarky political references to American political conservatives he clearly dislikes. He's now become the Michael Moore of authors and that's no compliment Billy-boy.
The Odd Couple
Bill Bryson seems like a charming, slightly odd character, and his Great Britain is similarly quirky. Bryson travels from end to end, south to north, not so close really to his “Bryson” line, but close enough to tell his story. And the story is familiar. Destinations for obscure reasons, charming stories, goofy interactions with unsuspecting locals, wanderings around towns and his beloved countryside especially, pubs for a drink, unfussy food. In between he cogitators on all that’s wrong with Britain and the world, and how simple it would be for things to be different and better. His arguments are folksy and easy to agree with. But also, one feels, a bit to pat. But it’s a fun book to read nonetheless.