Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jane: Book review

OK, I'll admit it. I'm an Anglophile. I don't love ALL things British, but I love being in England--the weather (sometimes), the light, the sense of history and a literary past, the architecture, the flora and fauna. Sometimes the British people too.

But those British people can be puzzling. I remember being rather put out by the British women I met when I first taught at TASIS England. They were really smart people--smart, confident, organized, professional. But when a man entered the room, they would suddenly get giggly and the pitch of their voices would raise an octave. Suddenly, their apparent IQs would decline! It made me nuts! I remember discussing it with another American woman. We couldn't figure it out.

Well, Sarah Lyall's book The Anglo Files: a Field Guide to the British, doesn't address that problem, but it addresses many other aspects of the British psyche--British men and sex, British politics, British child-raising, British teeth. And the author is a journalist, so she doesn't just rely on stereotypes, one thing I disliked about Bill Bryson's book, Notes from a Small Island. Lyall shares anecdotes from people she's interviewed and historical and literary quotes, too. But she's also got a great sense of humor, and tells the book as one with an unusual perspective on British people: she's an American married to a Brit, and living in London with her children, who say things like "this blouse is unsuitable with these trousers."

Enjoy this book--I laughed aloud many times.

1 comment:

Ken said...

I started liking this book and then I thought that the author was almost a bit too aggressive and not sympathetic to the Brits. Here's what I wrote:

The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British
by Sarah Lyall

This not-so-reverential look at Britain, exposes its eccentricities and foibles in a harsh light. From the idiosyncratic game of cricket to the anachronistic and frequently bizarre House of Lords, the author examines what makes the English English, and it isn't all cream teas and cottage gardens. But if you like England, you'll want to read this. KV