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The English American | [Alison Larkin]

The English American

When Pippa Dunn, adopted as an infant and raised terribly British, discovers that her birth parents are from the American South, she finds that "culture clash" has layers of meaning she'd never imagined. Meet The English American, a fabulously funny, deeply poignant debut novel that sprang from Alison Larkin's autobiographical one-woman show of the same name.
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Publisher's Summary

When Pippa Dunn, adopted as an infant and raised terribly British, discovers that her birth parents are from the American South, she finds that "culture clash" has layers of meaning she'd never imagined. Meet The English American, a fabulously funny, deeply poignant debut novel that sprang from Alison Larkin's autobiographical one-woman show of the same name.

The very English Pippa knows how to make a proper cup of tea, has attended a posh English boarding school, and discusses the crossword rather than exchange any cross words with her proper English family. Yet Pippa - creative, disheveled, and impulsive to the core - has always felt different from her perfectly poised, smartly coiffed sister and steady, practical parents, whose pastimes include Scottish dancing, gardening, and watching cricket.

When Pippa learns, at age 28, that her birth parents are from the American South, she feels that lifelong questions have been answered. She meets her birth mother, an untidy, artistic, free-spirited redhead, and her birth father, a charismatic (and politically involved) businessman, and she moves to America to be near them. At the same time, she relies on the guidance of a young man with whom she feels a mysterious connection - a man who discovered his own estranged father and who, like her birth parents, seems to understand her in a way that no one ever has before. Pippa feels she has found herself and everything she thought she wanted.

But has she? Caught between two opposing cultures, two sets of parents, and two completely different men, Pippa is plunged into hilarious, heart-wrenching chaos. Her birth father turns out to be involved in neoconservative activities she hates, and the mesmerizing mother who once abandoned her now refuses to let her go. And the man of her fantasies may be just that.

Larkin's compulsively readable first novel unearths universal truths about love, identity, and family with wit, warmth, and heart.

©2008 Alison Larkin; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Author and narrator Alison Larkin lights up the earphones with her portrayal of Pippa Dunn, an English young woman who discovers that her birth parents are Americans. Pippa decides to go to America to meet them and ends up finding herself—and true love. Larkin's heartfelt narration conveys Pippa's mixed up feelings of confusion and guilt—as well as the story's humor. Larkin moves delightfully between the various British and American accents. With gentle humor, she pokes fun at both American and British cultures while making it clear she loves them both. This audio experience is like watching a great romantic comedy. Have the tissues ready at the end—the romance is that good! Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award." (AudioFile)

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What Members Say

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3.6 (1009 )
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4.1 (358 )
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  •  
    Michael Bronxville, NY, USA 07-05-09
    Michael Bronxville, NY, USA 07-05-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding"

    This audio book is moving, funny, thought provoking, immensely entertaining and brilliantly narrated.

    Alison Larkin is as gifted a narrator as she is an author. A visit to her website shows why. A classically trained Broadway actress before she became a novelist, Larkin also made a name for herself doing cartoons and voice-overs in Los Angeles, She also narrated audio books for Disney. Her American accents are impeccable and the performance superb.

    It's a wonderful book. Deep but funny and accessible, covering an important subject with compassion, wisdom and humor. We end up loving Pippa Dunn even more than we did at the beginning, and learning more about ourselves in the process. It's been a long time since I heard an audio book that made me laugh and cry at the same time. And I don't even have any personal connection to the subject matter!

    Alison Larkin and her novel are uniquely entertaining. Will appeal to people who like to listen to a terrific story. You have to know what happens next.

    This is my first review. I had to write it because this book really deserves to be acknowledged for what it is. Something different. Something special. Something you won't forget in a hurry.

    This one is a keeper, not just because of the writing, but also because of its perofrmance. A tour de force by an outstandingly gifted narrator.

    i see she's narrating the Arthur Ransom series. I'd like to hear more books narrated by Alison - American, British, it doesn't matter what. This author/narrator is the real deal. More please!

    24 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diana 04-01-08
    Diana 04-01-08 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    137
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    18
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    "I loved this book!"

    Funny, serious, sweet and silly. This book didn't have a disappointing or dull moment. I loved all the characters and could really identify with Pippa's need to know her birth parents. A book on this subject could have been too pathetic or painful, but Alison delivers it perfectly --she delves into difficult situations but with a sense of humor and a sunny disposition.

    There are so many unique characters in this book, and the author somehow manages to give each character a voice in her amazing narration. Highly recommended.

    25 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia R. 04-16-08
    Cynthia R. 04-16-08 Listener Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The English American Rocks!"

    I found this audiobook to be a thoroughly enjoyable listen for so many reasons. As someone who lives and works adoption every day, it was so refreshing to hear a story that is truly from the adoptee's perspective, with all of the genuine pain, irony and confusion that comes with the adoptee's search for self. At the same time, there was no wallowing in the "adoptee as victim" morass. The characters have depth and are portrayed with compassion and humor. Alison Larkin's well-crafted narrative and wonderful voice brought the players to life. I couldn't get out of my car, waiting for the next turn in Pippa's interesting, and yet ordinary, life. This novel has everything - humor, pathos, intelligence and a believable happy ending. I found myself longing for a properly brewed cup of tea and a biscuit when I finished! And I've never been to England!

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Spring, TX, USA 06-17-10
    Nancy Spring, TX, USA 06-17-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "Sweet semi-autobiographical story"

    I think one of the things that really made this audiobook special was that the author narrated it herself. Being an semi-autobiographical story, hearing her emotions and speech pattern really made the story grab me.
    Additionally I found it a very intriging and enjoyable story. Poignant, yet comical this is really a lovely story about a young woman trying to find and understand herself.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cariola Chambersburg, PA USA 02-10-12
    Cariola Chambersburg, PA USA 02-10-12 Member Since 2006

    malfi

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Better than I Expected"

    I've had this book in my audio library for at least five years. I'm not sure why I put off listening to it for so long . . . maybe because it sounded a bit chick lit-ish, or maybe because of the rather squeaky chick lit-ish voice of the reader, the author-reader, Alison Larkin. So was it chick lit? Yes--and no. Pippa Dunn is a 28-year old single woman looking for love and looking for herself. It's her inability ot commit that leads Pippa, an adoptee, in search of her birth parents: she has abandoned a series of good relationships when she fears that her partner will reject her.

    Pippa has know since she was 10 that she was adopted but knows nothing about her birth parents. The novel takes us through her journey: the complicated communications with the adoption agency, which is bound by law to withhold information; the arrival of a letter from her birth mother, written as she was being given up for adoption; the negotiations of an attorney who finally puts her in touch with her birth mother--an American! Eventually, Pippa moves to America to learn more about herself and her parents--and she gets more than she ever expected. In the course of her journey, she begins to question her own identity but ultimately finds herself.

    This isn't the type of book I would normally read, but I did enjoy it. It's nice to take a break from more serious books every now and then

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    08-17-08
    08-17-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful"

    I recommended this book to my book club. It is wonderfully read by the author, who is as talented as the character she writes about. I suspect a great deal of the author is in the main character. Pippa Dunn is a dynamic narrator to her own story of being adopted by an English family only to discover her birth parents are Americans. This is a book for all Anglophiles. Alison Larkin does amazing things with her voice during this reading. She is able to do a male Scot, a male New Jersey, a female Carolinian, a Washingtonian AND a variety of English dialects that are charming. I loved this book.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie Grey McCawley Sydney Australia 01-09-11
    Leslie Grey McCawley Sydney Australia 01-09-11 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unbearable"

    This author/narrator has a manic, relentlessly self-pleased and chirpy little manner and voice; if you can tolerate that you may enjoy the story. I couldn't, and didn't.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristiina Friman 10-23-09 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Funny and touching"

    I really loved this book. It blends an emotionally touching story about adoption and finding yourself with witty comparisons of British and American culture. I have lived in both countries and although the cultural characteristics were sometimes exaggerated there is still truth in them. And yes at times the book is a bit silly but that's part of its charm.

    I also really love it when an audio book is narrated by the author. In this book the narration was excellent and really added to the experience.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Marietta, GA, United States 12-22-09
    Barbara Marietta, GA, United States 12-22-09 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Will appeal to less-demanding listeners"

    This is a well-written story that goes nowhere. The writer/reader draws from her own life but crassly insults Americans with dozens of lines like "In England it's considered rude to interrupt someone before they have finished speaking...". She also makes no distinction between the many regions and classes of Americans, and the vast distinction between state and regional laws (particularly regarding adoption). Her birth family is filled with cliches dragged out of "Hotel New Hampshire" and worse, and her red-baiting father must have grown up in the 1930s and 40s, not the late 1970s, which he is supposed to have. Larkin does a pretty good job with accents (I'm a New Yorker living in Georgia, so I do know) and her narration is exceptionally good for author-read, but the material is too wacky and her characters too enamored of Ayn Rand.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dawn Flagstaff, AZ, USA 02-21-09
    Dawn Flagstaff, AZ, USA 02-21-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
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    "slow at first, but well worth the wait"

    I restarted this book several times. I could not get connected with the character in the first chapter, nor could I understand where she was going, and why some details were important to the story. However, once I got into the book, I couldn't stop listening to it. Larkin's reading is the icing on the cake. Her accents are superb, her colloquialisms are real, and she brings her own words to life in only the way an author can.

    Heartbreaking, sincere, and painful at times, Pippa's journey becomes very real to the audience. It is incredibly humorous with both English dry wit, and American in-your-face fun, while telling a story that, at its foundations, is an important tale.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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