rating: 3 of 5 stars
I first tried to read this one a few years ago, before I lived in England. It quickly became clear to me that it was written as a love letter to Britain for British people to read; not at all for Americans. But now, having lived here a year, I get all the jokes, I sympathize with the ways Bryson pokes fun at them as an American at heart. Basically, Bryson travels around Great Britain complaining about all the things that are going wrong with it and how old buildings are being replaced with new ones and so forth, and yet all of this complaining is in fact pandering to his (equally crotchety) audience. This being Bryson, of course there are moments of laugh-out-loud funniness, but I grew tired of the book at times. In every town he visits (including mine; he lived not 25 miles from here before he moved back to America) he sees a few lovely things and then moans and complains about some building ruining the skyline or something. Which can be a bit tiresome. But none of that changes the fact that it really is a love letter.
I'd have trouble recommending this book to anyone who hasn't lived here a while, unless they are true Anglophiles.
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(note: I read this a while ago now and just didn't review it till now)