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Notes from a Small Island
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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."

After nearly two decades spent on British soil, Bill Bryson-bestsellingauthor of The Mother Tongue and Made in America-decided to returnto the United States. ("I had recently read," Bryson writes, "that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me.") But before departing, he set out ona grand farewell tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.

Veering from the ludicrous to the endearing and back again, Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent jaunt around the unparalleled floating nation that has produced zebra crossings, Shakespeare, Twiggie Winkie's Farm, and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey. The result is an uproarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain, from the satiric pen of an unapologetic Anglophile.

"Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realized what it was that I loved about Britain-which is to say, all of it."

After nearly two decades spent on British soil, Bill Bryson-bestselling author of, i>The Mother Tongue and Made in America-decided to return to the United States. ("I had recently read," Bryson writes, "that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me.") But before departing, he set out on a grand farewell tour of the green and kindly island thathad so long been his home.

Veering from the ludicrous to the endearing and back again, Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent jaunt around the unparalleled floating nation that has produced zebra crossings, Shakespeare, Twiggie Winkie's Farm, and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey. The result is an uproarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain, from the satiric pen of an unapologetic Anglophile.

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Bryson, who hails from Iowa, has spent the last 20 years living in England and writing about the often nettlesome relationship between his two countries, especially regarding their shared language (Made in America, LJ 2/1/95). His latest work is "a kind of valedictory tour around the green and kindly island" before he moved with his family back to the United States. With Paul Theroux's Kingdom by the Sea in hand, Bryson braves the inhospitably soggy fall weather to trudge from Dover, London, coastal villages, Wales, Scotland, and back home to Yorkshire on a helter-skelter seven-week journey that only a reader well versed in the geography of the region will follow, since there are no maps to aid the (American) reader. In fact, Bryson is writing here more for his British fans, who no doubt roar with mirth as he gently pokes fun at their excessive forbearance and fondness for Cagney and Lacey repeats. He is hilarious when transcribing a conversation with unsuspecting locals, especially in Glaswegian pubs, but merely dumb when he indulges in a curious (is it British?) bathroom humor. His portrait is certainly heartfelt, and one wonders, as he chokes up describing a stately, vanishing old England, if he will truly find happiness watching the 67 television channels in his native land. For all travel collections.-Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"

Before his return to the U.S. after a 20-year residence in England, journalist Bryson (Made in America) embarked on a farewell tour of his adopted homeland. His trenchant, witty and detailed observations of life in a variety of towns and villages will delight Anglophiles. Traveling only on public transportation and hiking whenever possible, Bryson wandered along the coast through Bournemouth and neighboring villages that reinforced his image of Britons as a people who rarely complain and are delighted by such small pleasures as a good tea. In Liverpool, the author's favorite English city, he visited the Merseyside Maritime Museum to experience its past as a great port. Interweaving descriptions of landscapes and everyday encounters with shopkeepers, pub customers and fellow travelers, Bryson shares what he loves best about the idiosyncrasies of everyday English life in this immensely entertaining travel memoir. Author tour. (May)

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