Meeting the English by Kate Clanchy

80%

6 Critic Reviews

The gloriously heady heat, high-running tempers and emotions are offset by the cool lightness of Clanchy's prose, shot through with a wonderfully refreshing comedic breeze.
-Guardian

Synopsis

"Exceptional . . . Clanchy has a wincingly accurate eye for social comedy, a vivid descriptive sense, and profound understanding of her characters. This is a delectable read." --Daily Mail (UK)
In response to an advertisement, Struan Robertson, orphan, genius, and just seventeen, leaves his dour native town in Scotland, and arrives at a creaky mansion in London in the freakishly hot summer of 1989. His job, he finds, is to care for playwright and one-time literary star Phillip Prys, dumbfounded and paralyzed by a massive stroke, because, though Phillip's two teenage children, two wives, and a literary agent all rattle 'round his large house, they are each too busy with their peculiar obsessions to do it themselves. As the city bakes, Struan finds himself tangled in a midsummer's dream of mistaken identity, giddying property prices, wild swimming, and overwhelming passions. For everyone, it is to be a life-changing summer.
Kate Clanchy's Meeting the English is a bright book about dark subjects--a tale about kindness and its limits, told with love. It is a coming of age story for anyone who has ever felt themselves to be an outsider; a love story for the awkward; and a comedy for anyone who has ever lived in a family. Written by an acclaimed writer of poetry, non-fiction, and short stories, this glorious debut novel is spiked with witty dialogue and jostling with gleeful, zesty characters.

 

About Kate Clanchy

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Kate Clanchy was born and grew up in Scotland but now lives in Oxford. Her poetry collections Slattern, Samarkand and Newborn have brought her many literary awards and an unusually wide audience. She is the author of the much acclaimed Antigona and Me, and was the 2009 winner of the BBC Short Story Award. She has also written extensively for Radio 4.
 
Published March 3, 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books. 320 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Meeting the English
All: 6 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on Dec 17 2014

Tragedy and farce combine in a Scottish-born poet’s notable debut novel, which follows an innocent abroad in London during one very hot, transformative summer...Fresh, funny and at times piercing, Clanchy’s novel introduces a savvy, impressive new voice.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Mary Pols on Apr 03 2015

There isn’t a dull scene in “Meeting the English.” Struan proves to be the agent of change, teaching the others about compassion and self-worth...Is the conclusion of his peculiar but magical interlude too tidy?...Yes, but none of that detracts from how well Clanchy has mined this pit and its men (and women).

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by LUCY SCHOLES on May 25 2013

The gloriously heady heat, high-running tempers and emotions are offset by the cool lightness of Clanchy's prose, shot through with a wonderfully refreshing comedic breeze.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Helen Dunmore on Apr 25 2013

Meeting the English is a richly conceived, original and very entertaining novel.

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Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Susie Boyt on Jun 13 2014

Clanchy, a distinguished poet, writes prose to relish. The passages in which Prys, post-stroke, tries to make sense of the odd new reality are confidently handled and convincing. A strong, rather gallant novel of family life and what (if anything) can be done about it.

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Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Susie Boyt on Jun 07 2013

...this is a strong and rather gallant novel of family life and what (if anything) can be done about it, and I suspect absolutely no prior knowledge of Hampstead and its ways is required.

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Reader Rating for Meeting the English
70%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 13 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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