Friday, April 8, 2016

The Road to Little Dribbling; More Notes from a Small Island

by Bill Bryson
384 pgs

Bill Bryson, the author responsible for getting me into trouble with my wife for making me laugh repeatedly while she labored to bring our first child into the world, has a singular and infectious love for his adoptive country of England.

Twenty-one years ago he wrote Notes from a Small Island, his first travelogue as an American transplant living in Britain. Now, after a brief stint back in the States, and then having returned again to live in England and become a British citizen, Bryson took it upon himself to become reacquainted with the country he fell in love with so many years ago.

Bryson follows a 700-mile route he dubs "The Bryson Line," the furthest distance one can travel across Great Britain. He travels by car, bus, train, and most often, by foot. He visits parts of the country he's never been to before and he revisits places he hasn't been to in decades.

At times he comes across as a curmudgeonly old man who has no tolerance for the changes that have happened, and the direction the world seems to be taking. But at the same time, the same sense of humor that got me into hot water with my wife so many years ago is still there, and makes his frequent gripe sessions entertaining and even endearing.

It's a testament to just how great a writer Bryson is, that at the same time he's bemoaning a certain aspect of British life, that it's evident that he's still totally in love with it. He is in awe with how much Great Britain has to offer. Its history, beauty, and contributions to the whole world are impressive by any standard and reading the book made me want to return there myself sometime soon.

 ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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