NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND by Bill Bryson

NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND

KIRKUS REVIEW

After two decades as a resident of England, Bryson (Made in America, 1995, etc.) bids a very fond farewell to that sceptered isle, to that promontory of clotted cream. Before returning to his native America, Bryson launched himself on a seven-week peregrination through the hills and dells, the High Streets and hedgerows of England, Wales, and Scotland. As always, he found most of the towns and the hummocks very much to his liking, indeed. And who wouldn't smile broadly wandering through the environs of Horton in Ribblesdale or Giggleswick or journeying to Milton Keynes (which is, be assured, a place, not an economist)? The main trick to successful hiking, the author knows, is to take a bus or train or rent a car frequently between the beds and breakfasts--the latter being full English and full cholesterol. Of course, not all he encountered was wonderful. "Bradford's role in life," he notes, "is to make every place else look better in comparison, and it does this very well." "Blackpool's Illuminations," he says, "are nothing if not splendid, and they are not splendid." British Rail and the ubiquitous Marks & Spencer are not favorites, either. Bryson also has an eye, unsurpassed by that of Prince Charles himself, for nasty architecture, especially shopping centers. Despite those dark, satanic malls, England delights him. He asks, "can there anywhere on earth be, in such a modest span, a landscape more packed with centuries of busy, productive attainment?" The spelling is American, the writing is English (fat folk are seen to "Hoover up" their comestibles), and the wit is genuine. A diverting travel journal, for Anglophiles especially. A short glossary (translating such terms as "knickers" and "George Formby") is provided. A map of the journey (not included) would have been nice, luv. But all in all, a tasty crumpet.
Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-688-14725-9
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1996




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