Modern Masters, Non-fiction

Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson – 9/10

I would love to review just the first half
of this book, which would get a
thumping endorsement and 10/10 wholeheartedly. The problem is that the second
half of the book is just more of the same, and it’s not interesting enough to
sustain 300 pages of Britishness.

Bryson captures Britishness perfectly. The
whimsy of Welsh coastal resorts (one of which I had actually visited, and the
train line which I myself had admired) in recommending bus services with
preposterous timetables; the grim humour of Scottish shopkeepers; and the
unrelenting patience and willingness to accept pretty much anything of the
English. My favourite moment is the description of the supply of driving

I echo the warning on the blurb – do not
read in public unless you don’t mind snorting/choking on your pizza for
one/guffawing on the Tube. Being emphatically not from the USA, I didn’t know
those who were could write this spectacularly about a foreign country.


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