Book Reviews

Icons of England

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List Price: £7.99


Paperback: 368 Pages.

Published: 01 April 2010 by Black Swan

ISBN: 0552776351

EAN: 9780552776356

This celebration of the English countryside does not only focus on the rolling green landscapes and magnificent monuments that set England apart from the rest of the world. Many of the contributors bring their own special touch, presenting a refreshingly eclectic variety of personal icons, from pub signs to seaside piers, from cattle grids to canal boats, and from village cricket to nimbies.


2.0 Stars2.0 Stars  by Anne

Disjointed and not as good as it could be

This book (which is edited by Bill Bryson and not written by him although this is not often made clear when the book is advertised) is a collection of short (average two pages) essays by "well known" people about things which they consider to be particularly English. Each essay is about what the writer feels about the subject.

The first issue with this book is that, at no time, does it really define what typically English things are or what they might have in common, there is no analysis of the subject and each writer makes their own assessment. This leads to a strange collection of "icons" most of which have some link to the countryside as the book was produced on behalf of a rural charity. Another problem is that each of the essays is very alike - they all run along these lines ... first say what your icon is, then describe a memory relating to it in childhood and then say that it is threatened in some way and we ought to keep/preserve it or bring it back. The pieces of writing become very repetative after a while and I would not advise reading large chunks of this book at any one time. With the lack of analysis and explanation and the emphasis on what the writer feels about the subject the book is also quite shallow.

This book is probably designed to dip into from time to time but not to read in sustained bursts and certainly does not provide any meaningful information about the items being described. Apart from its sale raising money for charity I am at a loss to see what the point of reading this book would be.

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