I confess….The Road to Little Dribbling is the first of Bill Bryson’s books that I have read, and I have mixed feelings. I am sad (and a little ashamed) it took me so long to discover his books. But I am thrilled to have so many of his books to look forward to reading. Bryson is an American ex-patriot living in the United Kingdom. Before moving back to the United States in 1995, he traveled around the UK on a farewell tour. He wrote a widely acclaimed book about his adventures titled Notes from a Small Island. He moved back to the UK in 2004. And now, 20 years after the original trek and book, he took another trip around his adopted home and chronicles the experience in The Road to Little Dribbling.
Our family has traveled to the UK on several occasions. It’s one of our favorite places to visit. I can geek out over all the museums and castles, my menfolk can attend hours and hours of soccer matches, we all can feast on the best Indian food ever, and the British can wonder (and most likely laugh at) our Southern accents and our confusion over all the coins in their monetary system.
The Road to Little Dribbling is not a guidebook and it will not help you navigate your travels around the UK. But, it serves as a wonderful companion and an ode to all the things unique to traveling around this wonderful island. Some of things are positive (the many accessible walking trails) and others are most decidedly not (the vagaries of the National Rail Service). The book also highlights how things have changed (for better and worse) in the UK during the 20 years since Bryson’s original trip.
Except for an excursion to Stonehenge, Bryson’s travels take him off the beaten path. He does not repeat any of the destinations he traveled to in the first book. You will not find him roaming the Tower of London or Westminster Abbey. However, he does describe many lovely, quaint sites and villages that you will want to visit. I found myself highlighting many places to visit on our next trip. I especially liked his description of many the walking trails scattered across the countryside.
He recounts his travels like your lovable, but cranky grandfather. He is easily irritated and set in his ways, but despite this, you love him and your time spent with him. He has no filter and says exactly what he thinks. I honestly found myself laughing out loud during almost every chapter.
So now I have read another book that has added to my ever-growing TBR. I just added Bryson’s entire backlist. And, I have already started an itinerary for our next visit to the UK. Can’t wait!
Book (ARC): The Road to Little Dribbling
Author: Bill Bryson
Date Published: January 19, 2016