In this delightful “travelogue”, Bill Bryson retraces a trip he took across his beloved England two decades ago. As he travels through villages and up and down roads with names most readers have never heard of, to visit some places that he is surprised to find no longer exist, he recounts his experiences with a sense of humor that will put a smile on every reader’s face. He reveals very personal tidbits about his private life with his family, and the reader will often chuckle as he relates his escapades. His self-deprecating approach to his own and others’ shortcomings help to make this story enchanting as he retraces not only his own steps but also a good deal of the history of Great Britain. When he compares the once quiet English way of life to the noisy American approach, the contrast is really comical.
As he expresses his disappointment with the various towns and shopkeepers altered by time and technology which have reduced their charm and courtesy, he also imparts little tidbits of perhaps unnecessary, but witty information like turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and unused lighthouses abound around England. He remarks about the abundance of antiquated societies that waste money studying things that no one has ever heard of or might care to hear of. He tells the reader about roads that seem to lead to nowhere and hotels that have either disappeared or are now on the decline. He laments the fact that in the interest of cost cutting much of the attraction of some of the places he once knew had disappeared, and the atmosphere of civility once so prevalent in Great Britain had also declined.
The reader will laugh as he exposes the lack of attention given to the customer and the obvious ignorance of some of the service people with whom he was forced to deal. His tongue in cheek conversations with himself are hilarious and are also a bit off color. Perhaps his proclivity for the use of the “f” word will surprise the reader, but it is used good-naturedly. In summation, he believes that the effort to save money has resulted in an abundance of Republicans and a country like Switzerland. He would prefer that England be more like Sweden, more liberal instead. Still, he loves the landscape of England and the tour he takes the reader on as he investigates places with unpronounceable names will charm the reader.
This audio is unique in its special way as it begins with a song about traveling the Bryson Line, and the reader, indeed, will travel along with him as he has a gift for bringing the reader directly into the places he visits as he introduces them to many little known points of interest, some of which he professes should remain unknown. In addition, in the audio, there are interludes of instrumental music as he changes locations in his travels which may please some listeners and displease others.
This book is best read in small doses either in print form or as an audiobook, savoring a chapter a night so that the day will end with a smile! Nathan Osgood does a wonderful job narrating this book with feeling, sardonic expression and wit and when the book ends with the Bryson Line tune, the reader may feel disappointed and feel they have just lost a good friend that had been keeping them company!