rb3221

After living in England for many years, the author takes a farewell tour before moving back to the U.S. It seems unusual that he often doesn't know where is going next, when the trains are running and never has an umbrella in the pouring rain. He offers many critical opinions on the hotels, the food, the lack of town planning but very few comments about the people. I found this rather odd for a travelogue. It seems to be written for a British audience or for someone who has already visited England ( as many of the towns and villages are quite obscure).
The usual Bryson humour is clearly evident but is somewhat sparse. He says Britain may have made a good communist country as they queue patiently for indefinite periods, are comfortable with dictatorships (like Margaret Thatcher) and have boring food. When booking into a local hotel totally soaked the receptionist asks if it is raining out and he answers "No, my ship sank and I had to swim the last seven miles." He marvels at the ingenuity of many Chinese inventions but can't figure out how they haven't "yet worked out that a pair of knitting needles is no way to capture food". In being totally disappointed in Pleasure Gardens he says it should be renamed " It's a Pleasure to Take Your Money". There is a great laugh-out-loud section on the differences between women and men shoppers (too long to quote here). The first rule of excessive drinking "is don't take a shine to women bigger than Hoss Cartwright". The other two rules are equally amusing.
Overall it is an enjoyable read but with no great insights and somewhat dated (1995)as a travelogue. In the end Bryson has a high opinion about England and almost wishes he could stay.

rb3221's rating:
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