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Mustn't Grumble: An Accidental Return to England
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Mustn't Grumble: An Accidental Return to England

3.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  108 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Fifteen years ago, Joe Bennett left England for a holiday. Now it's time to come back. But how is the England of his memory different from the England of the motorway? Identikit High Streets, imported cheeriness ('Welcome to Sunny Grimsby!'), chicken tikka poker machine pubs—things aren't what they used to be. But the longer Joe travels, the more he wonders whether things ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Simon & Schuster UK (first published 2006)
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May 11, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like travel but hate tourism.
Joe Bennett is a Englishman who has spent most of life as an expatriate, visiting England so he can write about it (and complain about it). Ironically, given the title, he grumbles quite a bit. He grumbles about the class system. He grumbles about the social anxieties drummed up by the media. He grumbles about politics. He grumbles about the general English inability to open up to other people. Most of all, he grumbles about the way tourism has spoiled travel. On visiting the home town of Alice ...more
Robert Ford
Jan 28, 2010 Robert Ford rated it really liked it
As a Brit who has now lived outside the UK for 15 years, I often don't recognize my own country when I go home... or rather I do, because it now increasingly looks like the 51st state.

Joe is definitely well on his way to being a 'grumpy old man', and I think that he'd probably be very proud of that label. He's an Englishman who's been living in a secluded part of New Zealand for the last 20 years, and decides to return to the motherland and hitch his way around the country. After getting nowhere
Jun 11, 2009 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a warts-and-all travelogue written by an ex-pat Englishman who returned to the country of his birth after 18 years. Being an ex-pat myself, I can relate to what he has written. Though there are a few passages that made me cringe I like the honesty of it. It’s no eulogy full of touristy clichés about thatched cottages, quaint country locals, and vibrant city nightlife. The writer knows that the everyday life of most English people and the land they live in bears no resemblance to the drea ...more
Rachella Sinclair
I was expecting something similar to Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island -- only in reverse. Unfortunately, it was missing the social insight, the humour and the writing ability.

As an expat myself, I understand how the perception of your birthplace can alter when seen through the lens on your adopted country. The old and clapped out becomes oddly quaint, the mundane, charming but Bennett fails to give any deep insight into what he perceives to be the "real" Briton when he peeks behind the c
Sue Kingham
Oct 07, 2014 Sue Kingham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Joe Bennett is very funny. This book made me laugh out loud. It was also rather sad in places. Joe's encounters with the young people made England seem a hopeless, foul mouthed place. This book is very well written and the ending is genius.
Jan 28, 2016 Linda rated it liked it
It was sort of interesting, sort of amusing, and if I'd want a complete rundown on the pub scene in Britain, it would probably have filled the bill. Probably not recommended unless you're a complete Anglophile.
Jun 18, 2011 Rebecca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Same author who wrote LAND OF TWO HALVES. And I found the same things annoying. In this book, the author is following the path around the UK (I have to say the UK because he dips his toes into Wales and Scotland) that some other author wrote about a million years ago. The Dude tries to hitch-hike around, but it doesn’t work out at all and ends up borrowing a car from a friend. I don’t really remember what else happened. Just his musing about all the towns his visited. It was nice coming from a N ...more
Mary Kay
In 1926, a guy named Morton wrote IN SEARCH OF ENGLAND after he drove a motorcar around the perimeter of the island. In 2005, Joe Bennett, a native Brit living in New Zealand, decided to follow Morton's route to see how things have changed. Both of them went mainly to towns & villages, not metropolitan areas. In 2004, Sheila & I visited a lot of the same places, so this book was pretty interesting to me. Joe spent an LOT of time in pubs, & the quality of the pub pretty well determine ...more
Nov 14, 2009 Nette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came across on this book on Wendi's "to-read" list. Thanks, Wendi! I adored this book. Not many authors can pull of hilarious turns of phrase AND gorgeous prose: he's definitely in a league with Bill Bryson and even Paul Theroux. A few chapters in I ordered his other travel books, and now I'm going to try to get my hands on his collected columns.
I wonder if Musn't Grumble was a note to himself? He comes across as a grumpy old man. I can't say I liked this book, it had its moments of hilarity but they were few and far between. But I did finish it.
Mar 11, 2013 Lyn rated it really liked it
Very amusing account of Bennett's trip around England - a return to his native land. Insightful, laugh out loud at times, poignant at others. A thoroughly good read.
Oct 28, 2012 Simon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I love English travel books where the writer observes things accurately or originally.
Apr 12, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
fun and interesting trtavel book about England and modern society
Neil Munday
a dont bother to read this book .
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Julian "Joe" Bennett (born 20 April 1957) is a writer and columnist living in Lyttelton, New Zealand.

Born in England, he emigrated to New Zealand when he was twenty-nine. Bennett is a columnist for Christchurch's newspaper The Press and the author of several books.

More about Joe Bennett...

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