Notes from a Small Island

Notes from a Small Island

Paperback Black Swan

By (author) Bill Bryson

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  • Publisher: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback | 416 pages
  • Dimensions: 124mm x 196mm x 28mm | 299g
  • Publication date: 1 August 1996
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0552996009
  • ISBN 13: 9780552996006
  • Sales rank: 5,212

Product description

After nearly two decades in Britain, Bill Bryson took the decision to move back to the States for a few years, to let his kids experience life in another country, to give his wife the chance to shop until 10 p.m. seven nights a week, and, most of all, because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, and it was thus clear to him that his people needed him. But before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. His aim was to take stock of the nation's public face and private parts (as it were), and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite, a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named Hardy, place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey and Shellow Bowells, people who said 'Mustn't grumble', and Gardeners' Question Time.

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Author information

Bill Bryson is much loved for his bestselling travel books, from The Lost Continent to Down Under, but Notes from a Small Island has earned a particularly special place in the nation's heart (a national poll for World Book Day in 2003 voted it the book that best represents Britain). His acclaimed A Short History of Nearly Everything won the Aventis Prize for Science Books and the Descartes Science Communication Prize. He has now returned to live in the UK with his wife and family. www.billbryson.co.uk

Review quote

"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

Editorial reviews

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. (Kirkus Reviews)