Twenty years after travel writer Bill Bryson published his hugely successful and endearing book Notes from a Small Island, comes more of the same. More interesting anecdotes, amusing stories, mini tirades about how stupid people can be, and way more absurd and trivial things than you ever wanted to know about parts of Great Britain. Some people find his books laugh out loud hilarious while others just don’t seem to have their funny bone tickled at all–they actually find this trivia king’s keen descriptions and facts rather boring. I am definitely in the chuckle camp, annoying fellow housemates and train companions with sudden snorty outbursts and guffaws. In fact, because I know my merriment is frowned upon, it makes me want to laugh more, like in church when stifled sniggers threaten to explode.
Bryson clearly loves the British countryside and the British people whenever they don’t exasperate him. He is a rather rambling guide, this time roughly focussing on what he calls the “Bryson Line.” A straight line drawn on land from the north to the south of this island nation (from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath). It is this line and its ‘thereabouts’ that determine his route in this book, although how Cornwall fits in I’m not quite sure. I also failed to discover where Little Dribbling is unless it referred to what he did with the first sips of the many pints he consumes along the way. I probably missed it and will likely be called a ‘ f***wit’ by Bryson himself for my stupidity (there are a variety of words he likes to use when he’s annoyed and that is one of them).
I do love travelling with Bryson. It is of course more pleasurable to read about a place that is familiar to you, so the parts of the book where I had not been, were not quite so engaging, except for being useful for making notes for my UK bucket list. Bryson, who once was American, has now signed on for good to this country that he loves, becoming a citizen as well as a resident. True grit has now become true Brit.