Bill Bryson‘s: Notes from a Small Island are about an American’s love of Britain.
After having lived and worked (!) in Britain for twenty years and immediately before going back to the US, Bryson embarks on a last trip around the enchanted island.
His aim is to search for the true origin of his deep affection. What he finds is a country which most British people themselves have already written off. However, those of us who believe that despite all its potential insufficiencies this Britain, an enchanted and blessed island, must still be alive somewhere, will read Bryson’s travel account with tremendous relief. “This Britain is still there”, is the message of the book though it is not the Britain of imperial glamour ruling three quarters of the Earth! Bryson does not spare us its unpleasant traits such as the slums in the big cities, decaying seaside resorts, shortages of staple goods on Saturday afternoons and inexplicable railway fares. However, on the other side, it is the Britain of so many pleasant things that make life worth living: cricket matches on Sunday afternoons, village parties in summer, country lanes that “will dance you down to Devon”(Greeba Bridget-Jones in English Lanes), to mention only a few examples of why this is still an enchanted island.
If most British people really look upon the development of their country in the 20th century as a “chronic failure” as Bryson puts it, then his finds reveal that they are wrong and that their attitude is probably due to a depressive mood resulting from the loss of an empire which they even “dismantled in a generally benign and enlightened way”.
In considering all the traits of this country whether ugly or pleasant, Bryson proves that his love is genuine. It is a love for better or worse!
Therefore, for all of you who like it there too, who “like it more than they can tell”, reading the Notes from a Small Island is a must and all the others “mustn’t grumble!”