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Notes From A Small Island: Journey Through Britain

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Bill Bryson

5 Hours 39 Minutes

Penguin Books LTD

April 2010

Audio Book Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

In 1995, before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire to move back to the States for a few years with his family, Bill 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 the nation's public face and private parts (as it were), and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite; a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named Hardy; place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey and Shellow Bowells; people who said 'Mustn't grumble', and 'Ooh lovely' at the sight of a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits; and Gardeners' Question Time. Notes from a Small Island was a huge number-one bestseller when it was first published, and has become the nation's most loved book about Britain, going on to sell over two million copies.

© Bill Bryson 1995 (P) Penguin Audio 2010

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  • hyperbole lover

    Bill Bryson is funny and interesting. I know that some people hate his voice, I happen to enjoy it. It adds to his quirky sense of humor. Classic Bill Bryson.

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  • Jim F.

    Bill Bryson is always entertaining and informative. His narratives have allowed me to visualize places I have never been, and revisit places I have been to with a different perspective.

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  • CJ

    I am new to the Bill Bryson bandwagon - I know, where have I been?... As a dual citizen who has spent a lot of time in both England and America, I thought I'd find a lot to love in this book. It had a promising start, I liked Mr. Bryson's humour (at first)... Then reality kicked in. I don't know whether Bryson was trying to convince himself he was doing the right thing in moving away from England and back to the States, but for all his "don't get me wrong - I love England" pronouncements, he didn't seem to find much to love (or even like) about any of the places or people he encountered. After a while the jokes rang hollow, and I found myself wondering "To what book were all those 5-star ratings referring?!" I don't ever write reviews, but I really was SO disappointed with Bryson's tone, attitude, and narrative that I had to add my two cents. Another country heard from, shall we say...

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  • Anonymous

    I laughed out loud at times! Bill Bryson has a way with bringing you on the trip with him as he moves around the public transport system of Britian. Very enjoyable. As always Bill Bryson never fails to entertain.

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  • Anonymous

    I really like Bill Bryson books and although I really like his travel books, I didn't find as detail as I have his other travel books. His sense of humor helps me understand what it would really be like to visit some of the places he mentions. I'll continue to read his books as I will never travel as much as he does, but will get a sense of the place through his eyes and humor which seem to be along the same waves as mine.

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  • Anonymous

    A wonderfully funny book and hearing the author read it was even better than reading it myself. Don't be fooled by the music that swells up at odd times; the book isn't over (and the music will go away). A great summertime book for the long drive to the lake or beach.

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  • Taos B&B lady

    Perhaps it helps to be English or to have lived in England for a longish time to really appreciate Bryson's wry observations, droll commentary and no punches pulled opinions. For those of us who fit that criterion, the book is an absolute gem as Bryson gives eloquent voice to our thoughts and feelings about the Highlands, the Fens and Dales, Dover, Brit rail and Calais shopping. Hw writes like the Anglophile he is and can point out warts and scars that only a lover would know.

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  • Melissa Menz

    When I first started listening, I was immediately reminded of David Sedaris. Their styles are very similar and quite enjoyable. This is a laugh-out-loud kind of book and kept me smiling all the way through.

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  • Anonymous

    Bill Byrson is as witty as ever. And this also could double as a 'real person' travelogue -- found myself wanting to map my own UK trip using the book as a travel guide.

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  • Anonymous

    however I did not love this book. As I have never been to Britain, it could certainly just be that I couldn't relate. His typical dry humor was present, I just couldn't keep my mind on it. Anyway, I just don't think this was his best work. Not bad but worth a listen.

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