Notes from a Small Island
Publication Date: May 4, 1998
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"Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realized what it was that I loved about Britain--which is to say, all of it. Every last bit of it, good and bad--old churches, country lanes, people saying 'Mustn't grumble' and 'I'm terribly sorry but,' people apologizing to me when I conk them with a careless elbow, milk in bottles, beans on toast, haymaking in June, seaside piers, Ordinance Survey maps, tea and crumpets, summer showers and foggy winter evenings--every bit of it."
After nearly two decades in Britain, Bill Bryson, the acclaimed author of such bestsellers as The Mother Tongue and Made in America, decided it was time to move back to the United States for a while. This was partly to let his wife and kids experience life in Bryson's homeland--and partly because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another. It was thus clear to him that his people needed him.
But before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. His aim was to take stock of modern-day Britain, and to analyze what he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite, zebra crossings, and place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey, and Shellow Bowells.
With characteristic wit and irreverence, Bill Bryson presents the ludicrous and the endearing in equal measure. The result is a hilarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain.
When The Lost Continent was published in 1989, Bill Bryson’s savagely funny account of his journey back to his roots in small-town U.S.A. took the reading public by a storm of guffaws. It was followed by Neither Here Nor There, in which Bryson applied his unique brand of wry humour to the foibles of Continental Europe and the Europeans.
“Bill Bryson is a funny writer…doubled over belly shakes and seltzer through the nose funny.”
— Globe and Mail
“The year’s best travel book…funny and witty and truthful.”
— Toronto Sun
“The funniest book I read this year – winded by its humor, tears on the cheeks.”
— Ottawa Citizen
“Bryson is first and foremost a storyteller – and a supremely comic and original one at that.”
— Winnipeg Free Press
“A kind of Dave Barry-meets-Paul Theroux in a British commuter train.”
— Sunday Express