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Publisher's Summary

After nearly two decades in Britain, Bill Bryson took the decision to move back to the States for a while but before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain. 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 and Shellow Bowells, people who said 'Mustn't grumble', and Gardeners' Question Time.

©2004 Bill Bryson (P)2004 Random House Audiobooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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pleasantville

A languid, amiable account of BB's travels to the UK, which at times had me chortling, but I enjoyed most of his other books more.

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Bryson does it again!

Bryson turns one man's travels through England to a masterclass in intelligent commentary, exquisitely crafted story, and humorous tales. Would definitely recommend to all.

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Disappointing !

I was a fan of Bill Bryson until this book, which I was really looking forward to listening to.
We all have bad days and he, at least, admits to having several whilst journeying through Britain. Unfortunately he comes over as being or trying to be funny and cynical at the same time and does not pull it off 99% of the time, making the listener yawn and hope that the weather and story will improve, but sadly for him at least, neither seem to and the reader/listener is left wishing the agony would stop! Its basically very boring.
I was so glad that he decided later in his life to return to his native country because having personally lived in both countries myself, I truly believe that the "chip" he carried around on his shoulder whilst trying to write this book would have lightened as soon as he was amongst his own again in Iowa and I mean this kindly having also lived in Iowa!
I really enjoyed other books that he has written and will try to lighten up regarding this one but to date have not changed my initial reaction.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • DR
  • 09-17-16

Wonderful!

Really fantastic, this is a must listen! ... only small gripe is the bizarre music which appeared a 2 or 3 times and almost obscured the speech. Fortunately it only lasts a minute or so each time so doesn't cause a problem overall, but was an odd production choice which I can't fathom!

Don't let that put you off though, I'm really writing it for the production company to see ... I still recommend without hesitation!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Letty
  • 09-11-15

Love this book

This is such a good book which I read years ago. It's funny, quirky and gently mocks the British way of doing things.
I like Bill Brysons narration of his own books very much.

The book was great apart from very odd music suddenly drowning out much of the narration when Bill Bryson reached John O Groats. It was most peculiar and unnecessary....I didn't know where the music was coming from initially and then it swelled louder and louder until I wondered whether to turn off the book! Luckily it only lasted a few minutes but I do wonder what it was for and how it was supposed to enhance the recording.
Apart from that I thought it a good recording and would recommend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • 02-10-13

Love The Narration

I have listen to Bill Bryson books narrated by BIll himself, and by William Roberts (The Lost Continent). Having originally listened to the Roberts narration, I thought I liked it, however, I then moved on to this book narrated by Bill himself. The difference is amazing. Roberts is a more polished audiobook reader, but he also makes the book sound somehow detached from what is going on. Bill, although more gentle in tone, is simply delightful when he comes across a particularly fond memory, and it feels as though you can hear him smile as he reads it back to himself, forgetting he is even being recorded.



This quirk in the reading is so endearing that I now cannot go back and listen to William Roberts who obviously cannot relate to the material in the same way. These books are after all a personal tale of adventure and experiences.



I do not think there is anything wrong with the Roberts narration, but I can only recommend you listen to all the books narrated by him BEFORE listening to one narrated by Bill Bryson himself. Only you have heard the difference, you cannot go back. I only wish Bill had narrated all of his books on Audible.



This book itself is great, and I chuckle to myself in public often at the observations about British life going on around me. Recommended.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • yana
  • 02-06-18

Wonderful storytelling

I love the warmth of Bill Bryson's prose and the simple way he tells stories. He also has a great reading voice

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  • churchill21
  • 07-07-17

Brilliant!

since buying this book I have listened to it time and time again. I love his outlook on England and his opinions whether good or bad.
His voice is gental and makes you feel like you really get to know him.
would recommend to anyone who wants a laugh and hear about England.

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  • "newfavourite"
  • 05-31-17

Hell yeah Bill Bryson

Bryson is always a joy to listen to and love his views on Great Britain

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  • Sam
  • 10-10-15

Bill Bryson is fantastic

A candid piece about Bills travels around Britain. Excellent to hear so far from home

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  • J
  • 09-15-15

Loved it - a great trip!

Bill doesn't pull any punches and tells it as it is - or as it was in the 90s when he made this trip. This is a great sideways look and gentle dig at the foibles of Britain and the British. Plenty of gentle laughs and good writing so that whether you agree or disagree with Bill's judgements you will enjoy accompanying him on this Great British journey.

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  • Helen Hoffmann
  • 03-20-15

superbly funny

I came back to this book after many years and it doesn't fail to delight.

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  • Mrs.
  • 04-10-13

I think I love Bill

Fab as always, I think I've gone through everything that Bill's narrated and just adore it. Sad that there are lots he hasn't! Please Bill do some more x

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  • Diana
  • 10-07-14

Short and charming

Would you consider the audio edition of Notes from a Small Island to be better than the print version?

About the same -- though Bill Bryson's reading is quite lovely.

Would you be willing to try another book from Bill Bryson? Why or why not?

Yes, as he is prone to take notice of all sorts of interesting details.

What does Bill Bryson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The almost-deadpan delivery -- which is oddly enjoyable.