Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Review: The Road to Little Dribbling

I have just read The Road to Little Dribbling. I love Bill Bryson. That is to say, I love his books and the character and personality that emerges from the pages. Sadly, I am not personally acquainted with this American who we seem to have adopted as a British national treasure. But I am sure that Bill and I would get along famously since we appear to be kindred spirits, united in bemoaning the State of the Nation and how things just ain't what they used to be. I wonder if this is because we are both getting a bit long in the tooth now, or are some parts of Britain and aspects of life here truly as parlous as he reports? Yes, and yes.

Mr. Bryson's latest book is laugh out loud in parts and if you want a snapshot of English quirkiness this is a good place to start. I enjoyed it but a tiny reservation is that it's just a little samey in parts - he visits somewhere, wanders around, likes or dislikes it, has a cup of tea, checks into a hotel, has dinner, goes to bed and the next day moves on to his next location. Perhaps a different editor would have taken a different approach. The parts of the book that I most enjoyed were his observational wit and his anecdotes.And, as I said at the outset, the author's character emerges in the pages and I like it. He is evidently a decent man with a great sense of humour.

Little Dribbling doesn't exist. I've checked. The title of the book is an allusion to old age, which seems to be playing on the author's mind. I will be seventy this year and Bill reminds me of the pitfalls of getting older a little too often in this most recent travelogue of more notes from a small island. But I'm happy to report that he seems to be managing very well, striding around the countryside in a determined effort to revisit old haunts and seek out new places to visit.

In a national poll some time ago, one of Mr. Bryson's earlier best-selling travel books, Notes From a Small Island, was voted as the book that best represents Britain.  Mr. Bryson was President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England for five years and his love of our countryside is evident in his writing, as is his love of the British way of life.

 In October 2014 Bill Bryson became a British citizen. We are lucky to have him. 

"Expect to chuckle, snort, snigger, grunt, laugh out loud and shake with recognition"
Sunday Times 


  1. This one sounds right up my street. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! Do you have any other recommendations for the Ardent Anglophile?

    1. Leslie, why not rry McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy. It's an hilarious tale of the writer's travels around Ireland, rediscovering his roots. Published some years ago, it was a Number 1 best seller at the time. I still re-read it occasionally.