Hachette Book Group (AU)
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English Animals Kindle Edition
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[A] confident novel that engages with love, belonging, prejudice and, above all, quintessential Englishness, Daily Mail
[A] wry and knowing debut, Stylist
It's a long time since I've enjoyed any debut novel as much as English Animals. Its command of tone, narrative and character is so assured, and both its wit and perceptiveness about a certain kind of English life make it a joy to read. I am sure it will win several prizes.
I loved the taxidermy ideas and details, and how beautifully they chimed with the human animal scenes presented. The dreadful marriage, the horrific father and above all Mirka herself with her courageous honesty and kindness make this something very special, Amanda Craig
A beautiful and bold debut, M.J. Hyland, author of the Man Booker-shortlisted Carry Me Down
Better than a burst of February sunshine, this is a pitch-perfect story . . . A bubble of pleasurable reading, Sainsbury's Magazine
Kaye offers an engrossing look at the English countryside, complex in friendship, love, violence and with a touch of mystery. Chronicling a Slovakian immigrant's story in the UK, English Animals is an important novel in an uncertain time. Don't be fooled by the spare, quiet prose; Kaye and her characters will do cartwheels over your expectations, Sara Novic, author of Girl At War
Kaye's satire usually hits the mark, coming at the expense of rural gastropubs with names like The Snooty Fox,
as well as the world of hipster taxidermy (Mirka starts assembling Dazed and Confused-friendly scenes called things like 'Freelance squirrels' and 'Rats at an office party') . . . Kaye is at her best when she sticks with her scalpel. It's good to see British writers still know how to use it
[A] quirky debut novel -- Clare Clark, The Guardian --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
From the Publisher
- ASIN : B01HBL2T40
- Publisher : Little, Brown Book Group (12 January 2017)
- Language : English
- File size : 871 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 263 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 535,261 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from other countries
My reason for writing this now is that when I did an author search for any other books she might have written I was presented with a long list of soft porn titles. I could not believe this was the same author, but it was only when I looked at the frontispiece of English Animals & compared it with the bio of the porn author that I realised that this is(almost certainly) a different person.
I do realise this is bound to happen on occasion ( there are 2 Robert Harris’s for example, the superb, famous one & the other one)
As far as I can see this the the only book my preferred Laura Kaye has written. If she writes another, as I hope she does, she might be wise to add an initial or other slight alteration to her name, though I realise this might not be commercially viable.
From the plaudits on this book’s cover (“A joy to read”; “An important novel in an uncertain time”; ”Shades of ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ ” - I didn't find this anything like ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ and Mirka Komarova is sadly no Flora Poste) I must admit that I was expecting quite a lot from this novel and was in fact rather disappointed. Although Mirka is not an unsympathetic character, almost all of the other protagonists are both unsympathetic and unlikeable and the descriptions of taxidermy, of the pheasant shoots and of the distasteful fancy dress party given for Richard’s fortieth birthday, made this an unsatisfying read (I do realize that the characters the guests chose to dress up as were intended to be in bad taste: Hitler, pregnant nuns, Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter, Christopher Reeve as Superman in a wheelchair, a used tampon etc - but this did not make it any more palatable). Admittedly, as noted by another reviewer writing here, there were some interesting themes in this book such as: immigrant life, sexuality, bigotry, social class et al, but I don’t feel these themes were adequately explored and I felt that the author needed to put more flesh on the bones of not just her characters but also the situations she put them in. Not one for me I’m afraid, but there are plenty of 5 star reviews so I’m obviously in the minority here.
Over the years, I have employed several au pairs from Eastern Europe and admired how this author managed to capture the straightforward way of talking that they all seemed to have in common. There is no nuance or innuendo which makes her easy to support and side with.
Mirka (the narrator) has her own secrets and we quickly find out her motives through the first person narrative. The direct story telling makes the book very easy to read and there is nothing complicated about the characters - they are all well drawn and full of life.
There is a lot of dark in the plot, with casual violence and marital strife alongside the prejudice that is experienced by Mirka which seems to show English life as much as anything else could. This is not a "chocolate box" view of the countryside which makes it so much more believable.
Taxidermy seems like an odd theme to be so central to the plot (and it is at the centre of everything) but it is used for much imagery that can be drawn from this, or you can just enjoy it for it's morbid humour if you prefer.
Mirka's sexuality is also a major part of the plot that is dealt with in a very empathetic and sensitive way. Throughout the story her character grows and changes to fit in with her surroundings which is intriguing to watch.
As with real life there are no easy answers and lots of plot strands run in and out of the main story, often not being developed and some just fizzing away. The pace gets faster towards the end with the ending itself being quite abrupt - it stayed in my head for some time letting me ponder the reasons behind it.
But I enjoyed it!
I like books that step away from the ordinary and this book certainly did that, the storyline was intresting and well written, it wasn't boring and kept me guessing about how it would end, and for that I liked it more, I felt both sad but relieved for the main character, the best ending isn't always the easiest.