Leah's Reviews > Single in the City

Single in the City by Michele Gorman
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's review
Sep 26, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: for-review, books-read-2010
Read on September 05, 2010

Hannah Cummings has left her friends and family in Connecticut and has moved 3000 miles away to London, England. Hannah is looking for the perfect job, the perfect friends and the perfect man, but first she must get to grips with the English language. As she struggles to get to grips with a whole new world, Hannah not only manages to get herself a job but manages to make a few friends along the way. The perfect man however continues to elude Hannah as she finds herself dating a range of men trying to her Mr Right. As Hannah begins to settle into England, will she be able to adopt the city as her own or will she end up heading back to America with nothing to show for her efforts?

Single in the City is the debut novel from Michele Gorman, who is an ex-pat herself now living in London, and I must admit when I heard about it, I thought it sounded interesting. I do like a good story of someone moving from one country to another and the differences that can sometimes occur can produce some hilarious results so I was looking forward to getting stuck into the book when I received a copy. Unfortunately for me, though, this is yet another ex-pat story that just doesn't click with me.

The book does however get off to a good start, with an interesting conversation taking place between Hannah and a man in the deli as she tries to order herself a sandwich. It made me laugh, and I've read that scene about 5 times now, but it just seems that such a promising start wasn't able to be fulfilled. It's always interesting for a writer to take a character and plonk them into a difficult situations and moving from America to England probably qualifies as a difficult situation. So what I was expecting from the novel was for Hannah to soak up everything there is to know about London and England. I wanted to see London from somebody else's eyes. I wanted Hannah to take the bull by its horns and explore the city, and we would follow her adventures step by step. Because despite being English, I've only ever been to London once and I can barely remember it so I was looking forward to learning about the capital of England.

Unfortunately, Single in the City takes the rather predictable route of Hannah and her quest for Mr Right. I did expect some romance, don't get me wrong, but I didn't expect Hannah to fall in love with four separate people over the course of the novel. Seriously. Every single time she met a new man, she thought he was perfect for her and they would be marrying within the week. It was mildly embarrassing to see her hanker after men she didn't even really know and I found it difficult to take Hannah seriously. First up was Mark, whom she slept with after meeting him in the pub on her first night in London (I mean, come on!) then we had Potential, who I didn't even know was a character until Hannah started talking about him properly, who is named Potential?! and then we had Barry who is perfect in any way and Sam, a 'bus boy from Wyoming'; "As if I've moved 3000 miles to date a bus boy from Wyoming" was Hannah's take on Sam, a bit cattily if I do say so myself considering as far as I was concerned he was the best of the lot.

I didn't like Hannah to be perfectly honest. Her stupidity (or naivety) at the British way of life was astounding. Are American's so up themselves that they never watch anything British at all? Because from what the novel tells us, that answer is no, they clearly don't know anything about Britain, because Hannah can't understand the language and she can't seem to understand anything British. I'm in no way expecting her to go on Mastermind about the topic, but a little knowledge about England would have been nice. Fact is, I'm British and I know tons about America. To be frank, why would anyone so inept about a country really move to it on a whim? You'd have to at least know something and Hannah's lack of knowledge was embarrassing. The only character that I could stand was Sam-the bus-boy-from-Wyoming. He was the only character that had any shred of dignity about him and was the only character that seemed at all real. Mark, Potential and Barry were all a bit nauseating and a lot was made of Hannah's Ozzie housemates but we rarely saw them so I can't really tell. I suppose Chloe, a friend Hannah makes, was OK, but again, I'd have liked to have seen more of her.

To compound how stupid Michele Gorman must think us Brits are, there are footnotes at the bottom of some pages telling us what dust bunnies are, who Julia Child is, what Chuck E Cheese is and what NFL means, et al. That may have been helpful about 20 years ago, but these days I'm fairly sure most Brits are au fait with dust bunnies, Julia Child and Chuck E Cheese. Even if we didn't know what Gorman was referring to, we could very easily look it up and I think the footnotes were totally unnecessary and insulted our intelligence. Her publishers would have been better to banish them to the scrap-heap because I learned absolutely nothing from 44 different footnotes. Single In The City should have been a fantastic read as I followed Hannah around London as she learned how to navigate a city she has never been to and what I got was a bit of a dull, run of the mill ex-pat story. It all seemed a bit cobbled together to be honest and the ending was a bit out of left field. So my quest continues for a good ex-pat story. I'm kind of worried that there's actually no such thing.
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Reading Progress

09/05 page 21
6.0% "The footnotes are annoying. Brits aren't stupid when it comes to American culture, we don't need it explained. It does however seem to be true the other way around: Americans appear to have no idea about Brits. Is that right?!" 1 comment
09/05 page 168
49.0% "Not particularly enjoying it. Instead of exploring her new home, Hannah is just obsessed with finding a man and for me it's just same ol', same ol'."
09/05 page 250
73.0% "Still not enjoying it. And it was April on one page, but they're going to Wimbledon in another. Date failure?"
09/05 page 342
100.0% "Not the book for me, me and expat novels really don't gel. Where's the sense of fun and exploration of a new country? Why does it always have to come down to men?!" 1 comment
03/29 marked as: read

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