#NotesFromASmallIsland by Bill Bryson - Mini review

Notes From A Small Island is a lovely little book about Britain from an excellent perspective; that is of celebrated author Bill Bryson, as an outsider who spent a considerable number of years living in Brtain.

Born in Iowa, Bryson portrays in equal measures his love and loathing for the British Isles, discussing the difference in nature of a homespun Brit to the rest of the world in their attitudes towards drinking establishments, eateries, public transport stations and 'walking' in Britain and how rather than being things to keep us as humans quenched, nourished and travelled they become activities to be complained about in their own right.

Brits will apologise when colliding with you; successfully arrange silently a multi-tier queueing system and have invented and consume an inordinate amount of baked goods, and these are all things that, while not uncriticised, Bryson communicates an endearment towards. And it's precisely these peeks and troughs that we love about or own country (though I may only be speaking for myself...).

From cities to seaside resorts; rolling hills of Scotland to the puddle ridden landscape that dares call itself 'the lake district', Bryson manages to cover on his 2 week trip many aspects of British life. I find it simultaneously uplifting and saddening, that despite the book being first published in '95, how little some of the locations described have changed.

Bryson has an informed yet witty way with words and describing the eccentricities of the locations he visits, but is especially astute discussing the architechture from place to place, and I very much enjoyed his opinionated stance on many of the wonders and eyesores that make up the void between copy and paste residential estates. In fact I found myself either smiling in agreement or in disbelief at a lot of his observations, but the key thing to remember is that I was indeed, smiling.

I'm surely in danger of no spoilers given the age of the book, but I do highly recommend this book as an insightful, humorous but loving depiction of Britain only someone who wasn't born here could have, and because of his eloquent way with words, 'Notes From A Small Island' is a joy from beginning to end.


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