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Icons of England Kindle Edition
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I'm about half way through and ready to toss it in the bin.
I had hoped for something better, Bill!
This book consists of lots of short pieces by many different authors. Yes, some of them seem a little uninspired but most of them put a big fat smile on my face. The authors share their very person impressions about (more or less) quintessentially English locations, experiences and objects. Most pieces were full of genuine love for England. Of course, everybody has their very own Icons Of England and might not be able to relate to those presented in this book. I can and I would definitely recommend this book both to English expats and to all anglophiles.
4 out of 5 - one star off for the less impressive pieces.
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This was the Kindle Edition, and is a collection of short stories (in some cases only 2-3 pages long) of icons of the UK - whether these be dry-stone walls, village pubs or the iconic mailbox shown on the front cover. Each is by a different author (Bill only provides the introduction), so there are a variety of writing styles from the casual to the very formal.
For me (an UK ex-pat) an interesting commentary on the English countryside, and some of its more endearing (though in some cases quickly vanishing) features.
I particularly enjoyed Tony Robinson's reminisces on Mick Aston and how Mick introduced archaeology to him, all the more poignant now, after the unexpected and sad passing of Professor Aston, a few months ago.
Ignore the bad reviews - Bill has done a wonderful job of editing this book. Sure, we all wish he would release a new book every year to make us laugh out loud and learn simultaneously. However, that would be impossible and in the meantime, console yourself with reading this. You can read it out of order, a few pieces at a time. Ponder the beauty, the nostalgia for childhood, the small everyday inclusions that make the country unique.
Highly recommended, inspires you to travel and explore England and to acknowledge the treasure it is for us all.
The book is set out into approximately two page 'chapters' where each contributor(Eric Clapton, Jo Brand, Jonathon Dimbleby, Gabby Logan, Kevin Spacey etc.) describes something that endears them to England. Some I found interesting or emotive and others just bland. I like facts and history so the chapters I enjoyed the most were the informative writings about Mary Anning the 19th century fossil hunter, Hadrian's Wall and Britain being blessed with ancient trees (with "more 500-year-old trees than France and Germany combined" in Richmond Park alone!)
Although you can 'look inside' before buying on Amazon, the chapter titles don't always give much clue as to the content. Subjects include: urban childhoods; hares; cricket; family butchers; The Green Man; The Norfolk Broads and Pub signs (that comforting "rectangle, swinging free in wind or rain...where you will find the comforts of your local town or village" no matter how far from home you are.)
Bryson does contribute in his indomitably observational style to the book at the beginning, but it would have been more fun had he contributed more. No book about Britain would be complete without a mention of the weather though, in this case by Floella Benjamin who arriving from Trinidad in 1960 had never experienced the same extent of season changes and coldness! She encapsulates about the climate, what surely most of us feel about 'Blighty' in general. It's home, and we love and miss it when we're away for any length of time...even the coldness! ;-)
Incidentally all royalties from the book go to The Campaign to Protect Rural England.
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