Regular price: $27.99

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Grab your umbrella and join best-selling author Bill Bryson for a grand tour through the heartland of the United Kingdom. As he wanders through tiny villages and bustling cities, his irreverent travelogue will keep you laughing out loud and eager to explore what lies just around the next corner. Before he returns to the United States after nearly two decades on British soil, Bryson decides to take a farewell jaunt through his adopted homeland. But his plans to neatly traverse the island by foot, bus, and train are soon thwarted. On weekends, odd train and bus schedules leave him stranded in isolated communities with damp, moldering inns. And as a destination beckons above the rooftops, a maze of city streets leads him further away. Amidst the difficulties, Bryson encounters quirky age-old customs, charming architecture, and salt-of-the-earth inhabitants. His uproarious social commentary and Ron McLarty’s warm and witty performance will leave you feeling as if you have actually been travelling across the enchanting island.

©1995 Bill Bryson (P)1999 Recorded Books, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    42
  • 4 Stars
    37
  • 3 Stars
    22
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    35
  • 4 Stars
    34
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    11

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    38
  • 4 Stars
    33
  • 3 Stars
    21
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    5
Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Disastrous, condescending, ignorant and offensive

Bill Bryson wrote a lovely book. Then some inbred yank moron was given the task of reading it and decided to unleash every moronic parochial ignorant condescending notion he could muster up on the reading.

THIS SHOULD BE WITHDRAWN for the travesty that it is.

The smearing delivery is a disgrace to the book

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sharon
  • Irving, TX, United States
  • 03-19-12

Appallingly badly read

Although I already own the Abridged version of this book, I bought this Unabridged version because I enjoy Bill Bryson's books so much. What a huge disappointment. The book was completely spoilt by a reader who was incapable of pronouncing British place names. Salisbury, Newquay, Weston-super-mare...... I am not sure I am capable of listening all the way to the end. In addition there are parts of the book that have a crackly quality.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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

Bad narration, dated stories

I enjoy Bill Bryson and have his books in text. But I like to listen to audio books as I knit so I bought this. Not worth it. The essays have become dated, not the fault of Bryson or the narrator but something to be aware of. The narrator was bad enough that I actually looked him up online to see if he was a native American English speaker or trying to fake an American accent. I was amazed to find he was from Rhode Island and a famous character actor. I won't be buying any other books narrated by him.

As those who read Bryson's books know, he can be peevish at times, Maybe it was my irritation at the narration, but the peevishness came across not as amusing, but more jerk-ish (I was going to use another word for jerk, but I don't know who is reading this review. Use your imagination).

I cannot recommend this audio book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

Caution: Not Narrated by Bill Bryson

Would you try another book from Bill Bryson and/or Ron McLarty?

The thing I love most about Bill Bryson's audio books is his narration style. Without his narration, it's just another book. His intonation and whit are unmatchable. If I had noticed that this book wasn't narrated by him, I wouldn't have bought it, plain and simple.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 08-10-17

...colored by the route you take into it.

"One thing I have learned over the years is that your impressions of a place are necessarily, and often unshakably, colored by the route you take into it."
- Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island

It is really hard not to like Bill Bryson's travel books. Actually, it is hard not to like his dictionaries, travelogues, or explorations of: the Universe, the home, Shakespeare, etc. He is, essentially, our Falstaff. He stumbles from bus to train, from pub to pub, from city to city exploring Britain one last time before he and his family leaves. Bryson's insights and digressions are always amusing. I believe this book sits in time (and in form almost) next to one of his other great travel books A Walk in the Woods. They share a similar Brysonesque tone and lightness. Again, I would bring back my Falstaff comparisons. Bryson uses humor, self-mockery, and a slight sneer to convey information and truth. One of the "truths" that Bryson pushed heavily in this constructed memoir (there has to be a better term for writing about an event that is designed to be written about). He is pissed that the Brits don't take better care of their heritage. They spend little money on their parks, seem to let their beautiful architecture get torn down, and seem apathetic to hedge rows. Bryson would argue that the Brits are almost blind to their own beauty. They are too close. Sometimes it takes a stranger (and a fool) to whisper the truths you KNOW are true, but are just to close to see.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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

dated, but fun

If you could sum up Notes From a Small Island in three words, what would they be?

dated (1995)

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

sure -- Bryson is good fun.

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

It's ok. He gives a sort of dorky, American perspective to it.

Any additional comments?

I had actually hoped for a more modern perspective on Britain, so I was somewhat disappointed. But it was good fun, aside from that problem.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

If you have lived in Britain, even better!

This book cracked me up and had me nodding my head throughout. Like Bryson, I love the UK, but acknowledge that there are many unexplainable quirks. He makes reading about them and recalling so much fun.

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

very bad audio quality

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

there is a bad ticking sound starting in chapter 7 of 15 in part 1. I can't get through the rest of the book. I have tried downloading it a second time and it is still there. I am loving the story.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Again the audio quality.

Any additional comments?

I think you need to reimburse me, or fix the problem.

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

Unless you are from the UK... then boring!

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

The book was just completely uninteresting. If you were from England and had some recognition of the places he visited, then I could see it being good.

What was most disappointing about Bill Bryson’s story?

It was just boring. I didn't finish it.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Ron McLarty?

The narrator was fine, it was the story itself.

1 of 7 people found this review helpful