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Publisher's Summary

Sarah Lyall, a reporter for the New York Times, moved to London in the mid-1990s and soon became known for her amusing and incisive dispatches on her adopted country. As she came to terms with its eccentric inhabitants (the English husband who never turned on the lights, the legislators who behaved like drunken frat boys, the hedgehog lovers, the people who extracted their own teeth), she found that she had a ringside seat at a singular transitional era in British life. The roller-coaster decade of Tony Blair's New Labor government was an increasingly materialistic time when old-world symbols of aristocratic privilege and stiff-upper-lip sensibility collided with modern consumerism, overwrought emotion, and a new (but still unsuccessful) effort to make the trains run on time. Appearing a half-century after Nancy Mitford's classic Noblesse Oblige, Lyall's book is a brilliantly witty account of 21st-century Britain that will be recognized as a contemporary classic.
©2008 Sarah Lyall; (P)2008 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By MT on 03-13-09

An American in the U.K.

As a English person living in the U.S. I was intrigued by the experiences of a writer who was doing the reverse. The author made many keen observations that were insightful and witty. It is always a shock to see ourselves as others see us! However, this recording is blighted by the narrator. Her attempts at English accents would make Dick Van Dyke in "Mary Poppins" sound positively Shakespearean. Also the production was littered with egregious mispronunciations which greatly diminished the enjoyment of the book. This is a situation that could so easily have been rectified.

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16 of 16 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By brendanstallard on 07-08-12

A cold hearted, curates egg

I'm an Irisher, lived in England most of my life, now resident in Atlanta. This type of foreigner abroad will always have an interest for me. The grandaddy of them all is Bill Bryson's, "Notes from a Small Country." A witty, wide-eyed and underneath the sharp-eyed observation, a loving portrait of the UK.

This is sharp, in places justifiable, but is too filled with bitterness to be very enjoyable. I am a cricketer, so the laughably asinine reflections on a day at Lords and cricket in general were funny, but for the wrong reasons. The observer attempts to compare cricket with baseball. Comparisons are odious, Ms Lyall, and in this case, witlessly so.

There was a deal of accurate criticism, deserved. Food, service, bathroom facilities and the cost of everything in the UK is horrible. Underlying the portrait was a sense of irritation. That irritation won't work anywhere in the world, will it?

I can imagine quite a few folks, having read this, would have told Ms Lyall to,"bog off back to America, ya miserable Yank!"

While the narrator had a lovely voice, really lovely, there are some unforgivable mispronunciations. Quite a few errors on simple words which should really have been picked up by the producer. (They are supposed to listen, right?)

Living in Atlanta, I find a regular hoot of differences, cultural and practical, which are a constant entertainment. Ms Lyall could take note and try and be a bit more leavened with kindness. Britain is a mad place, like everywhere else.

An irritable American writing about it with savage misunderstanding ain't going to fix it anytime soon. A cold hearted curates egg of a book, not my favourite.


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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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