THE ENGLISH AMERICAN by Alison Larkin

THE ENGLISH AMERICAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Chick lit with issues from debut novelist Larkin, whose rejection-phobic heroine goes in search of her birth parents.

Just a few pages of exposition firmly establish that 28-year-old narrator Pippa Dunn is a misfit in her adopted family: messy where they are neat, bohemian where they are conventional. London-based Pippa has known for years that her birth parents are American, but one day on impulse—she does most things on impulse—she phones an adoption agency in New York, starting the process that eventually leads to contact. Her birth mother, Billie, is an irrepressible, formerly alcoholic art dealer living in New York State. “You look like your father in a Laura Ashley skirt!” Billie whoops; when Pippa later meets Walt, a married businessman, she learns that she also inherited his taste for hit songs from popular musicals. Billie invites Pippa to move to the United States and help with her business. For a while, Pippa relishes her connectedness, but then disenchantment sets in: Billie seems increasingly needy, unreliable and manipulative; powerful, charismatic Walt turns out to be shady and fails to deliver on his promise to tell his other children about her. Meanwhile, e-mails fly between Pippa and Nick, a banker based in India with whom she had an intense flirtation seven years ago. He’s also adopted; they reconnected after Pippa asked his advice about contacting a birth parent, and now they’re discussing his painting (an avocation she encourages him to pursue) and working up to a romantic rendezvous in New York. But her destiny is kindly Jack, who helps her launch a career as a comic and singer. A burst of predictable developments help Pippa face up to Billie; realize that her adopted parents are much more loving than she gave them credit for; and accept Jack as the man of her dreams.

A loquacious, uneven drama partly based on the author’s personal experiences, but lacking fictional credibility.

Pub Date: March 4th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4165-5159-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2007