Bill Bryson was born in Desmoines, Iowa, in the U.S. When he was twenty, he set off on a hitch-hiking tour of Europe. On his way home he stopped at Dover, England. Here he met congenial friends who offered him a job in a hospital. While there he met, and married a pretty English nurse – and never came home again. He had fallen in love with England and spent the rest of life as a journalist, and writing books in which he tells of his love for his adopted country.
These books have become best-selling travel books, not only because Bryson is a deft historian and his curiosity is infectious but because he has a very amusing way of writing. Some of the best-known are The Lost Continent, Neither Here Nor There, and Notes from a Small Island. In the last one, he went on a trip around England to celebrate the lovely green land he had chosen to live in. In this new book, his publisher asked him to make another trip and see what if anything had changed.
Bryson charts a line from the bottom of England, a town called Bognor Regis, to the top, a spot called Cape Wrath, just over seven hundred miles. He calls it Bryson Line and includes an excellent map showing his ports of call. By rented car, bus and train he describes his trip, not neglecting Dover, where he landed many years ago. He is a gregarious visitor and the book is full of amusing things that happen to him. But at the base is a real love for the beauty of the countryside, full of trails for walking and dotted with pubs for relaxing. It makes for delightful reading.
Reviewed by Anne McDougall