Meeting the English

3.43 based on 288 ratings & 47 reviews on Goodreads.com
Picador

Publication date: 09.05.2013
ISBN: 9781447237341
Number of pages: 0

Synopsis

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2014 DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE

Literary Giant seeks young man to push bathchair. Own room in Hampstead, all found, exciting cultural milieu. Modest wage. Ideal 'gap year' opportunity. Apply Prys Box 4224XXC.

'It's only England,' said Mr Fox, 'just a few hours on the train. You can always come home.'

'Ah've never been though,' said Struan, 'never been South.'

'Then you should,' said Mr Fox, 'you really should.'

So it is that Struan Robertson, orphan, genius, and just seventeen, leaves his dour native town of Cuik, and arrives in London in the freakish fine summer of 1989. His job, he finds, is to care for Phillip, dumbfounded and paralysed by a massive stroke, because, though two teenage children, two wives, and a literary agent all rattle round Phillip's 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.

This is a bright book about dark subjects: a tale about kindness and its limits, told with love. Spiked with witty dialogue, and jostling with gleeful, zesty characters, it is a glorious debut novel from an acclaimed writer of poetry, non-fiction, and short stories.

In the media

Meeting the English is powered by an addictively forward-marching narrative . . . Clanchy displays a verbal inventiveness that unlocks the alarming, delectable newness of the world Struan encounters.
Times Literary Supplement
Kate Clanchy's sharp and charming first novel Meeting the English is . . . an accomplished and lively work, good-natured - kindness is particularly prized - but also underwritten by a keen understanding of the way we live . . . Clanchy, who is a distinguished poet, writes prose to relish . . . this is a strong and rather gallant novel of family life and what (if anything) can be done about it.
Financial Times
Every so often, an author bursts onto the scene with a freshness and originality that make the reader give a metaphorical three cheers. Kate Clanchy, who has won awards for her poetry, is one such; her debut novel is funny and insightful and her empathetic, law-abiding hero is full of blinding common sense, a less wet version of Adrian Mole . . . Clanchy either knows a lot about seeing the funny side of a depressing domestic situation or she has an acute eye. Either way, you'll want to hear more from her.
Country Life