Usually, I stay away from biographies; I just find them boring.
However, I was given this book as a gift so I thought I might as well give it a go. Bill Bryson, being a funny guy, meant that his book is funny too so here are my thoughts on it.
From the very beginning it’s humorous. Bill Bryson talks about coming to the country and has to sleep on a bench in the cold. I was laughing out loud (on the tube…) imagining him with his (clean) pants on his head to keep warm because he had nowhere else to sleep.
I’m not good at history so this book is also great as a history recap (not as boring as it sounds!) He makes history interesting by adding quirky thoughts or events into the mix.
I also absolutely love the way he describes British culture, the colloquial language and mannerisms of each place that he visits, such as Dover, Kent. Pages 26 and 27 mention Woolworths *sigh* and the hilarity that is the British culture to love warm beverages, or more specifically TEA.
Bill Bryson also writes about London and the city culture. This was particularly interesting because I work in the city so it was refreshing to imagine a world that was different yet the same place… if that makes sense? He has some ‘laugh out loud’ ideas about how to make London perfect… such as the weather. Obviously absurd but nevertheless very entertaining. I also enjoyed his funny take on London parking and driving a car – you must pick up the book to understand the jokes fully though.
It was also an interesting read because I noticed that he also plays with time quite freely. There are many periods in the plot that are working simultaneously throughout the novel and what I mean by that is that he can be looking back on the past and with hindsight offers his current opinions. For example, he tells the reader how he married his wife and then gives us side notes about their life together now. So, he freely jumps from one time slot in his life to another.
Throughout the book the reader discovers about his life plus what the towns of Britain are like from his eyes. We travel with the writer whilst he offers us many comic episodes based on his experiences and where he exclaims entertaining opinions.
I very much enjoyed it – have you read Notes from a Small Island yet?