Book Review

Bill Bryson et All: Icons of England

I’ve been in Canada for 3 weeks and I’ve already finished all the books I took with me. I’m on a crusade to find a library that would accept a foreigner (my God!) as it’s member and allow me access to books, my drug of choice (or does coffee come first? Too difficult to answer that…), well, anyway, while on search for more books I borrowed this one from my English roommate. I’ve read a lot of Bill Bryson’s books. It’s always clever and funny, he manages to highlight the quirks and absurdities of countries and people without ever being condescending. This one is not by him, though, it’s a collection of short essays about the English countryside, by just about anyone from Michael Palin (hihi) to Eric Clapton.

It is safe to say it’s quintessentially British, in it’s prays for moors and country churches, but it’s charming, easy to read, and it offers a walk through the English countryside without having to get out of bed. And there’s even an essay on cold water swimming, which is a hobby of mine (turning slowly into a religion, I’m afraid) so it’s always great to see it in a serious book, written by serious people (well, some of them are). Or, alternatively, to see I’m not the only girl crazy enough to enjoy jumping into 4°C water. I’ll have to write about that someday, maybe I’ll manage to make new disciples!


1) Beginning: Years ago, when I first came to Britain and everything was new to me, I went with an English friend to Brighton for the day, and there I saw my first seaside pier. The idea of constructing a runway to nowhere was one that would never have occurred to me.

2) The country is not so much another place as another state of mind. There is a trick to it though. You have to leave the call of the blackberry behind. You need to stop when you feel like stopping, look when you feel like looking and talk when you feel like talking.

Recommended to: : Anyone with a British obsession (i.e Austenites and others), anyone in need of fresh air (with a slight chance of clouds and rain, to be honest!)


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