Review: Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson

Rating: 5 out of 5

Mr Bryson seems to capture the perfect image from Great Britain (he does not speak of Ireland) in this book. The scenes were recognisable twenty years after the book’s original release though with changes — both in possible travel conditions as well as in the places to visit and what to see there.

The tangents which add on to the journey — both historical in the longer-term as well as cultural and personal for the author — all add to the value of the travelogue, and in all of this there is a very good understanding of the British mentality as well as of institutional peculiarities (such as the no-longer-extant British Rail though all of its successors share the same qualities as well the pub).

In the middle of all this is the excellent commentary on the cities he passes through, some of which are familiar to the likely reader either from personal travels, Coast, or some other such work. This means, that for many a place it is not necessarily an introduction but rather a re-introduction through Mr Bryson’s eyes — also allowing the years since his visits and the writing of this book to be more effectual.

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