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English Animals

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  662 ratings  ·  92 reviews
When Mirka gets a job in a country house in rural England, she has no idea of the struggle she faces to make sense of a very English couple, and a way of life that is entirely alien to her. Richard and Sophie are chaotic, drunken, frequently outrageous but also warm, generous and kind to Mirka, despite their argumentative and turbulent marriage. Mirka is swiftly commandeer ...more
Paperback, 359 pages
Published September 7th 2017 by Abacus (first published January 12th 2017)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  662 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Kaye’s impressive debut novel is a fresh take on themes of art, sex, violence and belonging. It has particular resonance in the wake of Brexit, showing the apparent lack of a cohesive English identity in spite of sometimes knee-jerk nationalism.

The novel takes place within roughly a year and is narrated by Mirka Komárova, a 19-year-old Slovakian who left home suddenly after an argument with her parents and arrives in the English countryside to work for thirty-somethings Richard and S
Roman Clodia
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved everything about this book from the start: the cool and uncluttered writing; the complex characterisation; the subtlety and nuance throughout. Kaye has a fine eye for social observation, and she seems to attribute this skill to Mirka, her key character, who creates hipster taxidermist scenes that function like a kind of anthropology of modern urban life.

It's a hard task to make characters simultaneously violent and kind, cruel and funny, yet Kaye pulls this off with Richard. His wife So
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: uk, 2019
Slow burning character building type book
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was in the middle of the biggest reading slump I've ever had when I started reading this book and not even that managed to ruin it.

I just loved it so much I can't even mkay???
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
4.5 Stars.

This was really, really good. Not for the faint of heart as taxidermy is main part of the book. The scenes are very descriptive and detailed so I would stay away if you are squeamish about that sort of thing. I actually found it super interesting and I learned an awful lot.
The only reason I didn't give this a full 5 stars is that I felt like the plot got away from itself at times. It felt a little too drawn out. Other than that though it was fantastic. I was surprised at how much it
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
Laura Kaye’s debut has an old-fashioned air to it that belies the startling relevance of its plot. With its claustrophobic Englishness, its interest in the traditional cruelty of the countryside and the privilege of the upper classes, it’s a Virago classic in modern clothing. But it has a piercing modernity to it too, confronting homophobia, casual racism and isolation.

We meet 19 year old Mirka, a Slovakian migrant, as she arrives at Fairmount Hall, home to Sophie and Richard. They are hard-up
Margaret Madden
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
This is an absolutely stunning literary debut that hooked me from page one, as Mirka approaches her new life in England. Landing in the midst of a strange environment, with an eccentric English couple she finds herself surrounded by tension, temptation and Taxidermy. The prose is both delicate and insightful as the author has chosen a protagonist who does not speak English as her first language. Sophie and Richard manage to make Mirka feel welcome yet an outsider; helpful but surplus to requirem ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
3.5 stars.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this book and was convinced I was going to give it a four or five star rating. I liked the character development of our main character, Mirka, and I appreciated how the author was able to make the subject of taxidermy interesting (as I know little about the topic). Unfortunately the last half was a bit boring, somewhat predictable and was further dragged down by too much domestic detail.
However I'd still recommend English Animals for those looking for
Noelia Alonso

This was a nice read. Very easy to get through. It explores some interesting themes but at the same time I found some aspects of the story difficult to believe.
I picked this book up solely based on the raving reviews it got from some of my favorite booktubers –primarily my beloved Jen Campbell. As you can imagine my expectations were quite high and I am a little sad to say that the book fell a little bit short of them. That is not to say that the book is not enjoyable or well-written, but rather that I needed something more, something more… impactful.
This is a character driven story through and through. The plot is quite a simple and predictive one, allow
Coleen (The Book Ramblings)
Laura Kaye’s novel, English Animals, is an impressive debut. A domestic drama set in the English countryside that gives a fresh perspective on art, belonging, temptation and sex, physical and emotional violence, and cultural differences. Mirka is a Slovakian woman who believes she has accepted a job as an au pair for Sophie and Richard, but upon arriving learns that she will be Richard’s taxidermy assistant while also helping Sophie run their many business ventures as their estate is used as a B ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
English Animals by Laura Kaye is a slow paced and descriptive novel set in a country estate in England. We follow a nineteen year old Slovakian girl Mirka, who starts working for a couple with a stormy relationship, Richard and Sophie. She helps with running the house and assists Richard in his various money making schemes, most importantly taxidermy.

The relationships between these three characters are the focus of the story, and they feel compeletely believable as does everything in the novel.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

I loved this domestic drama set in the English countryside.

Mirka is from Slovakia but moved to London under difficult circumstances and has since decided to start a new life in a big house in the Countryside helping husband and wife Richard and Sophie run their various business ventures including taxidermy, weddings, B&B accomodation and shooting parties.

The story is beautifully written and draws out these wonderfully rich and highly flawed charac
I’ve chosen to give up on reading this due to the writing style rather than the plot. I understand that the matter-of-fact and rather simplistic prose is supposed to reflect the fact that English is protagonist Mirka’s second language, but it felt stilted and awkward to me. I read the first chapter before deciding not to progress.
Saturday's Child
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I choose a novel to read for a very random reason and in this case it was for the cover. This approach can be a bit of hit and miss but this time it was a hit. For me, Mirka, Sophie and Richard were characters that seemed so very real and believable, and I engaged with the style of writing and the plot.
Renita D'Silva
A beautifully written coming of age story
Gumble's Yard
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Otto nodded slowly. “And why do you think people like these scenes so much”….
“I think they like the detail. Everyone likes stories about themselves that they can recognise”
“Yeah and I guess animals behaving like humans has always been a thing …”
“Maybe we can see the animals are like us, or we are like animals”

Mirka is a Slovakian 19 year old, who fled her home country after the reaction of her parents when her lesbian affair with her English teacher was discovered. After some initial
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to see this made into a zany comedy drama, filled with well-known British film stars
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-dont-own
Laura Kaye's novel is set in countryside England and begins in a small house where Mirka, a Slovakian young woman who joins the family of two: Richard and Sophie Parker as what she thought at first as a helper around the house. She slowly realises the uniqueness of the couple's lives in this idyllic countryside where she had to work alongside dead animals as a taxidermist for Richard.

This book started off with Mirka finding Richard and Sophie really odd - they were messy and dirty, t
I could hardly bear to be dragged away from this book! From the very first page, I was hooked.

The main character, Mirka, comes to work as a general dogsbody for an english couple who are struggling to keep their country manor afloat. Mirka soon finds herself absorbed into her her new position in some very unexpected ways. She observes without judgement, the goings on in the big house and despite her longing for connection she remains the outside, central to the action yet curiously d
Marina Sofia
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fearsome and fierce, but not savage depiction of cultural differences. It's the carelessness which grates more than anything. Reminded me a little bit of Tom and Daisy in The Great Gatsby: 'careless people, who smash up things and creatures' - only in this case they hunt and stuff them. Such fun!
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read, lgbtq
This is a solid coming of age-story and a biting commentary on contemporary British society with a wlw romance thrown in.

(Longer review to follow)
Charlotte Jones
I have heard many great things about this novel so I thought I'd pick it up from the library and give it a go.

On the whole I really enjoyed this book but I think that my expectations going into it were so high that there were a few things that I was disappointed by throughout. The writing style does evolve through the course of the novel to correspond with Mirka's language skills, but I felt that it was very stilted and jarring to be honest. 

At points the taxidermy scenes
I follow a handful of book critics in the UK and heard them raving about this book’s “charm” and ease of prose. I was intrigued because it is about a young Slovakian woman who relocates to the English countryside to work for an English couple who run an estate that they open for wedding and hunting seasons, even though they can’t really afford it. The critics raved about how much they enjoyed seeing an outsiders perspective into a distinctly English couple surrounded by distinctly English tradit ...more
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library, lgbtqia

I was just browsing through a bookshop, looking for a book I could buy to compensate for my shitty day... This cover caught my eye, so I opened it and - what did I just read? Mirka, a Slovak taxidermist? A lesbian Slovak taxidermist as the main hero? Of an English book? It was decided; I had to read this!
The plot is quite straightforward and the language is deliberately simple (since it is a first-person narration from Mirka's point of view). What could work for a native did not w
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A light and breezey read. Gently touching on themes such as being an outsider to a culture, the fundamental divide between the population in post-brexit Britain, and class divides. This is all wrapped up in a romance plot which is the main focus of the novel, happily, as this is by far the strongest element.
The prose overall is a little basic, but the characters are believable (and believably irritating) and their interactions are well observed and presented. The entire taxidermy aspect is
Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
This book was a lot of fun to read. Mirka, a nineteen-year-old, gay, Slovak girl comes to England and finds an assistant job in the country, working for a married couple at their home. The couple's life is chaotic. They get drunk and fight. But Mirka's presence in the home has a positive effect on the dynamic. The wife, Sophie, operates her childhood home as a B&B and a location for marriages, while her spouse, Richard, tries his hand at taxidermy and running pheasant shooting trips, both en ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be both enthralling and different; written beautifully this was a really enjoyable read.
3.5. Really enjoyed the main character Mirka and some parts of the story, it was a nice and sweet book but I didn't like the ending particularly and a part of if wasn't fully believable.
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Laura is a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths and did a further year of study under the mentorship of M.J. Hyland at Manchester University. In 2014 she completed her first novel, 'English Animals' which will be published by Little, Brown in 2017.

Apart from writing, Laura has spent the last 10 years working on music and arts documentaries for the BBC - including Flam