Jen's Reviews > The English American

The English American by Alison Larkin
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's review
Oct 10, 2010

did not like it
Read from February 09 to 17, 2011

Pretty disappointed in this book. I really wanted to like it; I'm a total Anglophile so this book's premise was very appealing. It started off well, but became bogged down in over-the-top characters whose personalities overshadowed the story, or what story there was.

The book is about a young woman nicknamed Pippa who was adopted from America at birth by a British couple who thought they couldn't have kids (but wound up having a birth daughter a year later after the adoption.) Because she always felt so different from them, and wants desperately to feel like she belongs, Pippa seeks out her birth Mom and Dad in America.

Her Mom turns out to be an eccentric artist type whom Pippa initially feels she can relate to more personality-wise, while her Dad is a conservative, political type whom has never stopped loving (or obsessing over?) Pippa's birth mom. Pippa moves to America to better know her parents and figure out who she is and to finally find a place to fit in. To go much more into the story is pointless because I didn't feel there was a real strong plot line- there's a few love interests thrown in and eventually Pippa wisely realizes that the fantasy birth family she's dreamt about her whole life isn't what it's cracked up to be, but not before she puts up with way more than I think most people would have stood.

I feel like this had the potential to be a good story. I was expecting a charming, witty look at what it would be like reuniting with parents who share your genetics, but are complete strangers, as well as the clashing of cultures; instead it was a book about a bunch of overly-eccentric characters whom, for the most part, were not very likeable. Pippa was okay, and would have made a decent heroine of a "Shopaholic" type novel, but put in this setting she eventually became as irritating as the other characters. To me, a book should never have more than one or two eccentric people, yet this one had a whole cast, save her adopted family (they were just typical British eccentric.) It sometimes felt like crazy characters were thrown in just to make sure we all know how wacky her birth family really was; almost gives American's a bad name.

Maybe it's the Anglophile in me speaking, but I couldn't understand what the appeal of staying with her birth parents was when she had a pretty cool life back in London. I kept hoping she'd just go back to London and the book would turn into a witty, British romantic fiction.

Ultimately, I just didn't connect with the characters, not really caring what happened to Pippa or her American family; I found myself skimming too many pages that I contemplated not finishing it. Pretty much sums it up.

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07/02 marked as: read

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Abigail Reagan Your summary was like you read my Anglophile mind. LOL Thanks for a very astute review.

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