My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

ARC Review: The Road to Little Dribbling

Synopsis (from GoodReads):

Over twenty years ago, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his home. The hilarious book he wrote about that journey, Notes from a Small Island, became one of the most loved books of recent decades, and was voted in a BBC poll as the book that best represents Britain. Now, for his first travel book in fifteen years, Bryson sets out again, on a long-awaited, brand-new journey around the UK.


I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  This has not influenced my opinion of the book in any way.

Bill Bryson is one of my son's favorite authors.  We have a dog-eared copy of A Walk in The Woods sitting on our bookcase as testament to this fact.  So when I was approved to review an advanced copy of his new book, The Road to Little Dribbling, I could not have been more pleased.  It's been a while since I've read a Bill Bryson book and I was, at first, a bit taken aback by his style.  If you have read any books by Douglas Adams then you will understand the humor in this book.  It is a very particular, especially British, style.  As a devoted Anglophile I love this sort of writing.  

But, at the beginning of the book, his commentary dips into cranky old-man complaining.  He complains about fast-food workers, clerks, basically anyone in the service industry.  Yes, we all get that people were a lot nicer 20 years ago.  In the first chapter, he prattles on and on about this.  I was ready do stop reading.  But I am glad I continued on as this book becomes a wonderful love letter to Britain.

After that whiny first chapter, I was weary of what Bill Bryson could possibly have to say throughout an entire book.  But then the book shifts gear and begins to shine as he talks about the diverse beauty and wonder of the countryside of England.  Bill Bryson is known for his walks, and he has an abundance of experiences in the book as he rambles about England, visiting places he has been to over his forty years living on and off in Britain.

What I love about his writing is that he will not only describe the immense natural beauty of an area, but will also be full of wonderful, obscure facts that bring a far-flung place to life.  Reading this book makes me want to travel, walk, and have a pint at a local pub.  This must be one of the best advertisements for British tourism in a long time.

This is not a sickly-sweet travelogue.  The author has plenty to say about the decline of several, once thriving, seaside resorts.  I would think that some in those cities will not be buying Mr. Bryson a pint any time soon.  But much of his criticism is directed at government programs that are wildly misguided, not at the residents of the cities he is lamenting.
The author was born in the Midwest, and you can see he still has a fondness for The United States of America.  But he gives a very convincing case for why England is a charming place to live.  I spent five months in England as a student, living in counsel housing, freezing over the winter months. And I loved every minute of it!  At every turn, there was a piece of history for me to marvel at.  The author shows us how true this is as he stumbles on historical sites that chronicle the beginnings of the industrial age, and nuclear power.

Overall, I thought this book was a delightful ode to Britain.  It is funny and full of luscious descriptions that will motivate you to grab your passport and indulge in a trip to England.  Who knows, maybe we will stumble upon Mr. Bryson on a scenic walk in the Cotswolds.  If so, the drinks will be on me.

Source:  ARC from NetGalley

Release Date:  January 19th, 2016

Format:  E-book

Recommendation:  A fun travelogue that will make you want to pack your bags and explore Britain.

Will I read more from this author?  Yes!

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1 comment :

  1. What a brilliant review Ardis! Bill Bryson is one of my favourite authors, if not, people. I think I have read A Walk in the Woods about 5-10 times (not exaggerating here) and Notes from a Small Island was absolutely great as well (I can now proudly say that I know what a counterpane is). Needless to say, it was a HUGE dissapointment when my ARC request was denied, but just wait until it's the 19th of January! Vavoom!

    The cranky old man complaining is kind of his thing, but he always compensates for it with plenty of praise for the country he's writing about. So I'm really glad to hear you saw that as well and didn't give up due to the whiny bits ;). I think he's overreacting half of the time anyways for the sake of being funny.
    Did you ever hear him speak btw? Because he's originally from New England, but lived in the UK for so long + spent a lot of time in Australia, he has the most intriguing accent!

    Tell your son he has great taste ^^.


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