What happens when you take one 26-year-old American, add to one 2,000-year-old city, add a big dose of culture clash and stir?
Hannah Cumming and the population of London are about to find out.
How is Hannah to know that there’s a special technique to crossing the street or riding a bus, or that words like tomato will elicit snide elocution lessons from the locals? Hannah lands alone in London only to find that she is totally ill equipped to live there. Not that a complete lack of forethought has ever stopped her before. She charges headlong into London life, perplexing its residents with continual faux pas and cultural misunderstandings in her pursuit of a new life, new love and sense of herself. (From Goodreads.com)
I really liked the sound of Michele Gorman’s debut novel, Single In The City, as soon as I heard about it. Telling the story of American Hannah and her move to London, it seemed to offer an original slant to the chick lit genre, it’s one I’ve not come across before anyway.
I’m pleased to say that I was right. Single In The City gives fresh breath to the usual chick lit story. Yeah, some of the characters and situations are a bit clichéd…Hannah is ditsy, works in PR and is unlucky in love, falls for the playboy villain, has a crazy mother and ends up with the guy you know she will from the beginning…but the journey there is hilarious. Honestly, I’ve never laughed so hard as I did at some of the scenes in this book…one in particular will be difficult to forget, having me gagging and crying with laughter in equal measures (If my Nan’s Sausage casserole wasn’t already bad enough, this scene certainly ensures I wouldn’t be able to look at it without wanting to spew or go into a fit of giggles)
I loved Gorman’s (an expat herself) observations of London and surprising as this may seem to anyone outside the UK I totally got them! I live about as far North as you can get in England without crossing the border to Scotland, and for me going to London is like going to a foreign country. I was nodding in agreement at Hannah’s experiences of how busy and scary London is, how people just stare quite aggressively at you and how overwhelming it can feel. I also really liked Hannah as a character. Despite the novel picking out the differences between the Uk and US culturally, the fact that our insecurities are the same, particularly where dating and men and relationships are concerned, really stood out for me. I think a lot of females will be able to relate with Hannah!
The only fault I would pick with the book is that littered throughout there are footnotes explaining some of the American terms or cultural references used. To be honest I found this totally unnecessary…I, as I expect most people under a certain age, have grown up on US sitcoms, movies and books (my five year old sounds more American than English at times thanks to Dora and Diego and laughs when I tell her it’s Jag-yoo-ar not Jagwaar!) and I just didn’t need the explanations. I did find them quite annoying to be honest and eventually just skipped them completely. I’m not sure if they were meant to be tongue in cheek…they just didn’t really work for me.
Footnotes aside, Single In The City is a fun and highly entertaining read offering something a little different amongst similar books. I doubt many will be able to keep a straight face when reading some of Hannah’s experiences. There’s a great cast of characters to back up our loveable heroine including some Aussie flatmates I want to move in with myself…right now! I kind of predicted the ending or so I thought but at right at the last paragraph was thrown a surprising line…which could be taken two ways. It leaves you with a ‘so did she or didn’t she’ feeling…left for you decide and either way I’m satisfied. This is the perfect comfort book…easy to read, fast paced and fun from start to finish. After reading this fantastic debut, I’m excited to see what Michele Gorman offers up next.