An Englishwoman in New York by Anne-Marie Casey
|An Englishwoman in New York by Anne-Marie Casey|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Trish Simpson-Davis|
|Summary: Both escapist and down-to-earth, pithy and wise, but most of all this feel-good read about a group of women at the school gate is a worthy successor to Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada. Ah, New York, New York!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: October 2013|
|Publisher: John Murray|
|External links: Author's website|
I just love that feeling. I’m in the hands of an writer who knows the business of writing inside out, and I can relax and enjoy a surprise ride with plenty of laughs along the way. No, I’m not related to veteran scriptwriter and producer Anne-Marie Casey: in a literary world awash with good reads, this is the highest-calibre popular novel I’ve read in a while.
What’s to enjoy? Well, it’s good fun to find a worthy successor to Sex and the City, so if you’re a devotee of Carrie & co, you’ll enjoy this story, too, about four women who meet at the school gate. Lucy is the Englishwoman who has downsized to New York from an affluent London lifestyle after Richard’s career plummets to earth. Julia is a successful screenwriter desperate to find her next storyline, and Christy has married a rich septuagenarian as her lifestyle choice. Together they epitomise mummycool to Robyn, who props up her family finances to allow her husband to continue with his unfocussed writing career.
The novel’s originality intrigued me. Conventional truisms in women’s fiction are turned on their heads ... take Christy, who isn’t the heartless rich bitch we expect from media portrayals. Oh no, she is (mostly) loyal, loving, and straight up, and hers is a marriage of like-minded realists. Then there’s the surprising twist to Lucy’s story. Faced with economic necessity, Lucy and Richard find their simpler, more united American life ups the happiness levels of the whole family. In the end though, Lucy doesn’t find a happy ending from this endeavour, as you might expect in a more conventional romance, but ventures into the writing world herself in a neat little tie-up to the end of the book. Julia is an unforgettable character, announced to the reader as … about six foot tall, always wears a hat, and talks to herself. Her opening line is, How long is it since we butchered a pregnant woman with a meat cleaver?, which is pretty memorable, I think you’ll agree.
The canny observation that runs through this book gives a gloriously acidic edge to its humour. My personal favourite is Robyn’s reflection that: Christy might sleep in Egyptian cotton sheets with a 1,600 thread count, but she still had to feel Vaughan’s grey nose hairs rubbing against her thigh. And the scar from his heart surgery ran down his stomach like a red arrow pointing to the fact that he might die on the job …
I felt very comfortable reading this story, even though there’s a multiple viewpoints approach. This can be a disaster, especially in first novels, but I suppose this is the huge advantage of a day job as a a screenwriter, and the characterisation never falters. I’m equally sure the story would work brilliantly as an audiobook or film.
I'd so like to thank the publishers for the opportunity to read this edition.
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You can read more book reviews or buy An Englishwoman in New York by Anne-Marie Casey at Amazon.com.
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