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Editorial Reviews

"We have a tradition in this country of literary teddy bears - John Betjeman and Alan Bennett among them - whose cutting critiques of the absurdities and hypocrisies of the British people are carried out with such wit and good humour that they become national treasures. Bill Bryson is American but is now firmly established in the British teddy bear pantheon." (Jake Kerridge, Sunday Express)

Publisher's Summary

The hilarious and loving sequel to a hilarious and loving classic of travel writing: Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson's valentine to his adopted country of England.

In 1995, Bill Bryson got into his car and took a weeks-long farewell motoring trip about England before moving his family back to the United States. The book about that trip, Notes from a Small Island, is uproarious and endlessly endearing, one of the most acute and affectionate portrayals of England in all its glorious eccentricity ever written. Two decades later, he set out again to rediscover that country, and the result is The Road to Little Dribbling. Nothing is funnier than Bill Bryson on the road; prepare for the total joy and multiple episodes of unseemly laughter.

©2016 Bill Bryson (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Fans should expect to chuckle, snort, snigger, grunt, laugh out loud and shake with recognition...a clotted cream and homemade jam scone of a treat." (Sunday Times)

"Nathan Osgood does a fine job channeling the slightly grouchy but nevertheless charming author. Osgood is outraged, droll, tolerant, or positively gushing when the text demands it." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

No Bryson?? Alas, another disappointed fan

Bryson without Bryson's voice doesn't work for me. As others have already detailed, his unique voice is essential in conveying the tone of his work. As a long-time fan, I just clicked on "Buy" as soon at this book was released without listening to a sample or paying attention to the narrator. That's my fault for "assuming". This one is being returned for credit. If reissued with Bill Bryson narrating I'll most likely purchase anew. Sorry Bill. I really tried but it just doesn't play properly without your narration.

71 of 74 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Bryson should narrate! No question about it!

I've just started listening, and this reader is okay. But Bill is great at narrating his own work, and I was fully expecting that I'd hear his voice. I never expected for a moment to hear someone else. We need another version with a Bryson narration.

49 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anne
  • Saint Paul, MN, USA
  • 05-21-16

Classic Bill Bryson, but would be better if author narrated

This narrator has a much edgier/sarcastic tone than the author, which makes the funny bits not as funny . His voice is somewhat unpleasantly gravelly. I was able to listen, but wish the author did the narration.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Too much snark, not enough heart

Would you listen to The Road to Little Dribbling again? Why?

I had to tap out with two hours remaining. Bryson's travel narratives have always included a level of snark, but he overspiced the soup this time, I'm afraid. I get enough of the "grumpy old Boomer" act from my parents, thanks.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

A bit more of the heart and humor found in A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country. Also, the completely unnecessary and transphobic swipe at Caitlyn Jenner should never have made it through editing. Say what you will about her as a person (and I don't hold her in any esteem in that regard), but there's no call for labeling her "Bruce Jenner in drag."

What does Nathan Osgood bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Osgood's reading was excellent, and really helped elevate the material. He has a masterful command of the various regional British accents, and that was put to excellent use as the narrative moved about the island.

31 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Oh Bill, why?

I love Bill Bryson and have listened to all of his books. Most, unlike this one, are narrated by Bryson himself in his mild, sleepy tones. Maybe it's the different narrator (who does a fine job) or maybe it's the decades that have passed since his earlier tours through Britain, but I found this book to be more "grumpy old fart" than bemused traveller. He wraps up the book with a loving tribute to his adopted home, but so much of what has gone before this chapter is whiny, condescending, and smug. He loves Britain but hates its shopkeepers and hourly wage workers, its politicians, publicans and hoteliers. In fact the only Britains he seems to like are well-educated immigrants like himself. I hope he will cheer the heck up in future and write more great reads like his earlier travelogues and At Home.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book, Disappointing Narration

I love travel books and Bill Bryson is my gold standard. I buy his books as soon as I'm aware a new one has been released. For a very long time I have been purchasing them in audio format because listening to Bill Bryson read his book adds an element that professional narrators, no matter how good, just can't achieve. For that reason I have only rated this book four stars. I was very disappointed that the author was not reading this himself. I should have just purchased this in Kindle format. It would have been cheaper and then I could have imagined the author's voice reading it in my head.

But the book itself was, as usual, very good. I really love his use of language and it's is a great sequel to Notes from a Small Island. I so wish I was still able to travel because he mentions so many places I would love to visit in person.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Hellocat
  • Centurion, South Africa
  • 01-22-16

Utterly delightful

For the good of mankind, Bill Bryson needs to be permanently chained to his desk and forced to write non-stop for the rest of his life. While this might sound cruel, the benefit to mankind would far outweigh any such concerns. The only exception would be when he is travelling for his writing, and even then I think the desk should go with him just to remind him what's up.

The Road to Little Dribbling is the latest book from a man who has yet to write a bad one, and is bristling with the sort of excellence that I, and his many fans, have come to expect. Hilarious, insightful and interesting, The Road To Little Dribbling is highly recommended.

There have been some negative reviews for the book, but these can be quickly and thoroughly discounted. Yes, this is not Notes From A Small Island, and 20 years on who could expect it to be? Bryson now travels mostly in short bursts, not the long stretches of solitary sojourns of his youth. This does change the tone of the book, but once you accept that it is as delightful as anything he's written.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

When did Bryson become a cranky old man?

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I've read and thoroughly enjoyed several of his books including "A Walk in the Woods" and "In a Sunburned Country". For some reason ole Bill has turned into a nasty, short on patience old man, he just gripes constantly, especially about young folks he deals with. For god's sake do some soul searching Bill!

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

What a dissapointment!!

What disappointed you about The Road to Little Dribbling?

I love Bill Bryson and have bought all his audio books and listened to most of them many times. First of all this book isn't narrated by him, strike 1. Next he he spends half his time complaining about things and the other half talking about what he wrote in Notes from a small Island, or talking about previous works, thanking people or endorsing products. He even admits at the beginning he practically wrote this book just for the money. He said he wouldn't visit previous places from Notes from a Small Island, but he did or else talked about it endlessly.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I don't know yet.

What didn’t you like about Nathan Osgood’s performance?

He's okay, but I was expecting Bill Bryson.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

There were moments with some of his old charm but overall I found myself thrinking about other things for most of the book and I can't really remember any place he talked about, mostly because he didn't talk about the places.

Any additional comments?

I really wanted to like this book, even after reading some negative reviews. I just couldn't. So glad I got it through Audible and can return it and didn't spend a lot of money on a physical book that was far far less than I expected.

24 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Very Disappointing

What would have made The Road to Little Dribbling better?

The narrator was dreadful. Bill Bryson makes a point of the importance of language and grammar but the narrator repeatedly mispronounced words. Moreover, the narrator's stab at American regional accents was clumsy. I had the feeling that the author was 'mailing it in.' It seemed that many of the rants were over-long and forced -- and probably padded.

Would you ever listen to anything by Bill Bryson again?

Yes. I have read (not listened to) many of Bill Bryson's works and generally enjoyed them.

Would you be willing to try another one of Nathan Osgood’s performances?

No.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

There were parts that were pleasant and insightful but they were overwhelmed by the rest.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful