Review of 'Notes from a Small Island'

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

notes_from_a_small_island.jpg This is the original novel by Bill Bryson talking about his travels around Britain prior to his moving back to the United States having lived in North Yorkshire for many years. Starting from Calais, where he first took the ferry to Britain many years prior, Bryson makes his way around England, Wales then up into Scotland, often simply going wherever the railway timetable would allow him to go though occasionally resorting to a car rental when public transport was simply not possible (such as in the Lake District). Along the way he comments quite astutely about modern British life and the idiosyncrasies of it's people which is particularly poignant to those that live here (such as myself). He has a way of accurately pinning down aspects of living in Britain that often those of us living here fail to see – both charming and downright annoying in equal measure.

Each chapter follows his experience visiting a particular area, looking for accommodation, finding something to eat and just observing the environment and people with a cynical and educated eye having lived in the country for some time already. In that he does this while trying to stick to public transport is truly astonishing given the dramatic reduction of such series in the middle of the 20th century rendering certain areas all but inaccessible by such means. It is wonderful to hear him wax nostalgic of a country he knew in previous years and lament as to what has become of it though, to be fair, his observations are now somewhat dated with this book having been written more than 20 years ago. For the most part these are mostly still quite accurate.

An entertaining, light, read from the master of the humorous travelogue, “Notes from a Small Island” is a bit dated but well worth a read for those interested in British culture or those that just want a laugh…

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2021-12-27

Genre: Travel

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 1995

ISBN: 0552996009

Other reviewed books by Bill Bryson: