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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

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (984 )
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3.7 (339 )
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4.1 (333 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Dawn Flagstaff, AZ, USA 02-21-09
    Dawn Flagstaff, AZ, USA 02-21-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    46
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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
  •  
    E Chapel Hill, New Caledonia 04-20-08
    E Chapel Hill, New Caledonia 04-20-08 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    8
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    "really enjoyed this one"

    Alison Larkin's performance is wonderful on this. She has a lovely voice, and is such a pleasure to listen to. This is one of those books that I think might be best in audio. The characters are engaging, interesting - a bit exaggerated, but because it's a first person work - we're seeing all of this from Pippa's view - it was ok and really very funny. In particular, the character of her (real) mother is funny and maddening, and also destructive but I see a lot of reality in there too.

    The story is good too - we often try to understand ourselves by looking at our family and our environment. Pippa is neither perfect nor omniscient, and she tries to understand herself better by seeking out her birth parents, but she learns that there aren't any easy answers, and that we are a product of nature and nurture.

    As a first novel, I found this excellent, and I hope Alison Larkin will continue Pippa's story.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    elly bresz pittsburgh pa 10-29-13
    elly bresz pittsburgh pa 10-29-13 Member Since 2011

    I love all things British especially books written by British writers.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "very enjoyable"
    Would you listen to The English American again? Why?

    No, I enjoyed it very much but it's not the type of story that I re-read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I wanted to keep listening to find out how it turned out. Character development is excellent.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Didn't laugh or cry, but LOVED the ending and it made me sigh with joy.


    Any additional comments?

    very enjoyable read. it provides an interesting perspective into someone who has been adopted and the whole "nature vs nuture" concept.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine 04-24-13
    Catherine 04-24-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    48
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    "Funny and light"

    I got a kick out of this funny book. While some of the characters were a tad stereotypical, the situation was unusual in the juxtaposition of British vs. American culture. The issue of adoption and wanting to know where you came from was thoughtfully handled.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HIII 04-21-13
    HIII 04-21-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    150
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    "Happy ending"

    This is the story of a young adult who is adopted. She is dealing with needing to meet her birth parents through getting to know them. They are not traditional parent child relationships but starting with adult child getting to know her natural parents. Pippa, the daughter, is almost 30 but some of the emotions she expresses sound similar to teenage drama. Pippa is a singer and it was interesting to hear the variety of music from rock to religious. At one point I thought the book was more light opera than audio book! The English American is a coming of age book with a heroin who just seems to old to fit the part.,

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mon San Francisco, Ca 06-03-12
    Mon San Francisco, Ca 06-03-12 Member Since 2010

    12 step program please. I am addicted to Audible! I love trashy sexy books, award winning novels and everything between. Bring it!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    188
    ratings
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    112
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    38
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    Story
    "Slow, really slow, then really Great!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The English American to be better than the print version?

    Yes because Alison Larkin's voice is so wonderful. I have to admit that at the beginning of the book I was annoyed by what felt were too many competing main characters. But as the story unfolded and I began Pippa's journey I was able to ease into the characters and their unique voices.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I loved Pippa. She is charming, funny and sweet. She embarks on a very personal journey to discover her bio parents and gets an education in reality vs. expectation. I have friends who were adopted and I even traveled with a close friend when she met her bio mom for the first time. It was a nerve wracking experience that covered every emotional base. She and her bio mom formed an amazingly close bond. This book made me think of how strong my friend was to go in search of her bio parents and to uncover her own history not knowing what she would find on the other side. Pippa's story starts off slow and I didn't really know where it was going and I even thought of giving up but then Pippa started to grow and change. She confronted many insecurities and had to find her way in a new city with a new family. It became a very interesting story. Pippa has a wonderful family in England and **spoiler**** I think in meeting her bio parents she was able to appreciate the family she had. Her bio parents are narcissistic, selfish and all around awful. I just didn't care for them and so wanted Pippa to grow a spine and tell her bio mom in particular to f*&^-off.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Oh i'm all about the hook up, so I loved it when Pippa and the guy (he will remain unnamed) hook up! There aren't many details, just enough to let you know "IT" happened. You have to use your imagination for the rest.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Not sure, but I think this would make a fun film...a rehash of Bridget Jones Diary except with Pippa living in the US and learning American culture. This is actually one of the funnier elements to this story.


    Any additional comments?

    if it starts off slow for you too, give it a chance. It does pick up. I found myself smiling on my walk today listening to it. It is a fun sweet sentimental listen. Total chic lit with some light romance. Worth the credit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    beth LEAGUE CITY, TX, United States 04-04-12
    beth LEAGUE CITY, TX, United States 04-04-12 Member Since 2009

    I am easily amused!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Nice Surprise!"

    This book was a delightful suprise. The author narrates the book and does a wonderful job. A cute story that had unique characters that took place in both England and America. I laughed a lot and couldn't wait to hear what happened next.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Swartz tucson, az 04-01-12
    L. Swartz tucson, az 04-01-12 Member Since 2005

    bikesue

    HELPFUL VOTES
    43
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    "A Totally Delightful Book!!"

    I loved the story and I loved the narration. I could not stop listening!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Spearman 06-10-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    1
    1
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    "De-Lightful"

    Not only is the narration absolutely delightful, the character development is more than expected for a chic lit book. I highly recommend this easy-to-listen to audiobook.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Pittsburgh, PA USA 11-28-10
    Jean Pittsburgh, PA USA 11-28-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    217
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    35
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    "just okay"

    The narration was not well performed, although Alison Larkin's singing voice is lovely. I understand this is fiction based on her real life, but the story is very predictable in places. I'm imaging that this story is considered to be in the Chick Lit genre. It did hold my attention enough to finish the whole book in one sitting, but I won't be getting any more of Larkin's books, if there are others.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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