MPHPL Reviews ... "The Road to Little Dribbling" by Bill Bryson

MPHPL Reviews ... "The Road to Little Dribbling" by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is an American writer who has spent most of his adult life in Britain.  The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of An American in Britain is a companion to Notes from a Small Island, published twenty years earlier, and describes Bryson’s most recent travels around the country.  However, Bryson makes the decision to cover new ground in The Road to Little Dribbling, rather than revisit places he described in Notes from a Small Island.  As a result, readers can enjoy this new title independently of the earlier work.

One of the reasons that Bryson decided to embark on a new series of travels around Britain is that he is about to become a British citizen.  This circumstance also provides a framework for the journey.  As Bryson is studying for the British Citizenship test, he discovers that the two furthest removed points on the island that can be connected by a straight line not crossing the sea are Bognor Regis and Cape Wrath.  In honor of this discovery, he decides to begin his travels at Bognor Regis, a seaside town on the south coast of Britain that has seen better times, and to end his trip at Cape Wrath, a remote spot on the northern coast of Scotland.

In the end, though, he does not follow what he dubs “the Bryson Line,” but visits a wide variety of places on both coasts and everywhere in between, while heading roughly south to north.  His stops include prehistoric sites, museums, stately homes, the countryside and forests, and pretty but heavily-trafficked seaside towns.  He visits famous landmarks like Stonehenge, and lesser-known sites like a cabin in Hyde Park where President Roosevelt often stayed during World War II.  These places are not necessarily described in detail, but often in brief “snapshots” that reflect the author’s interest in the site and his experience there.  His perspective is serious at points, for example when he explores a city that has fallen on hard times, but is often laugh-out-loud funny.

The Road to Little Dribbling’s descriptions allow the reader to travel virtually around England, Wales and Scotland.  It might also provide readers with ideas for off-the-beaten-path places to visit, or lead them to decide to avoid well-known places that may not be worth the time.   Anglophiles will really enjoy the interesting stories from British history connected to the sites that Bryson visits, and his discussion of life in contemporary Britain. 

Click here to reserve The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of An American in Britain.

Click here to read more about Bill Bryson with Gale Biography in Context.  (Just enter your library card number at home!)

Review by Kimberly Cashman
Reference Services Supervisor
Mishawaka Library

 

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