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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2013
Cutting Edge Press never cease to amaze me with the eclectic range of books they produce and MBE is just another book that adds another string to their VERY full and incredibly wonderful bow!

I had the total pleasure of meeting the lovely author of this book @MichelleFlatley at the CEP summer party in June, and as well as having lived in my original home town for a while, she is a truly lovely lovely lady indeed! So, when this book arrived on my doormat I was all over it!

MBE is the story of three VERY different women, from three VERY different cultures who have ended up in Burnley (of all places). They all meet at a local language school and, through their pursuit of a better and more fulfilling lives, become solid friends.

MF has obviously done an incredible amount of research in to different cultures for this book and it is obvious in how confidently and fluidly it is written. The sense of sisterhood between the three women is gorgeous and by the end you really feel like you are one of their friends. I believe both of these are also achieved by MF's writing style. Sammy is just heat breaking and her story is beautiful. Lenka's life experiences made me really angry. And when it comes to Su, well I just feel let down for her. Three very different emotions that MF convincingly portrays and stirred in me as a reader.

The UK and British people like Bobby and Chelsea seem grotesque and monstrous and seem to embody everything that is wrong with the UK. I am not sure if this is intentional but that is how they came across to me. A complete antithesis of the three friends.

The book is full of joy, hope and gut wrenching sadness and is not at all what you expect when you first start reading. Yet another very unique and compelling read from a very unique publisher. Fantastic!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2013
My Beautiful England is the story of three women from different countries who are brought together when meeting at an English class in Burnley, a town in the north of England.

Su, from Thailand survives the 2004 tsunami and marries Bobby who works in a chocolate factory. His son disapproves and Su discovers that Bobby hasn't told her everything.

Sammy comes to England from Pakistan, marries Ehsan and lives with his family. She longs for freedom.

Lenka from Poland escapes her violent ex with her daughter, but lives in fear that he'll find her.

England isn't what any of these women expected it to be, but they form a bond and look out for each other.

Michelle Flatley is a natural storyteller and her words flow across the page. Despite the serious subjects covered, this novel has a warmth at its heart: the friendship between the three women. Michelle writes from several points of view, which is difficult to carry off but she does it well. Once started, this novel is difficult to put down and the ending is what would be expected from the tone throughout: incredibly moving.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Set in Burnley, Lancashire in 2005, My Beautiful England by Michelle Flatley is the story of three women. Three very different women with one thing in common. They are all immigrants, newly arrived in England. They each have their individual problems and issues but are bound together by their wish to find happiness in 'beautiful' England. They meet at the Language Centre, where they are determined to overcome their difficulties with the English language and pass the certificate to become 'English'.

Su is a 44-year-old widow from Thailand. Her beloved husband died in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, she has become a 'Thai Bride' and is now married to Bobby. Sammy is 18, fresh from Pakistan and living with the husband that her family found for her. Lenka is Polish, the victim of domestic violence and mother to Anna.

Michelle Flatley writes with confidence, it is difficult to believe that this is her debut novel, she has really got to the heart of each of these women, and allows each of her characters to develop slowly and beautifully. Despite the title, Flatley certainly does not present England, or the English as beautiful. Hard hitting and at times a little painful, the ignorance, prejudices and sometimes hate of the home-grown characters is not hidden away.

The isolation and sense of loneliness that Su, Sammy and Lenka feel at the beginning of the book is stark, and their developing friendship is beautiful to follow. These three women start out frightened yet hopeful and as time passes and they learn a little more each day about their new homeland, they discover together, grow together and at times, cry together. This story does not gloss over any issues, it contains violence and situations that are emotionally demanding, but it is honest and truthful, and most of all, it is wonderfully written.

This is a stunning debut from Michelle Flatley, and another success from Cutting Edge Press who consistently deliver new, exciting and innovative fiction.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2013
This book presented a unique and fascinating glimpse into the experiences of women immigrants.

The women seemed real and their stories believable. There are some sad moments in the book, but there is also a sense of hope that keeps the reader wanting to know how it will all end for the three women, Su, Lenka and Sammy. Once started, I couldn't put it down. This book has changed the way I view women arriving in the UK and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read a story about women and their life experiences. It's a compelling read and Michelle Flatley takes you on an emotional journey that will make you think about England and society in general.

A very interesting and unique read which truly deserves my five stars.

My Beautiful England
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 August 2013
I waited a long time for delivery of this book but it was really worth the wait. The book is an insight into the largely unseen but fascinating world of female immigrants in Burnley. The book really drew me in and I was reluctant to put it down it is both entertaining and thought provoking, it has left me wondering about the many women who must be in similar situations in the UK.
In short, a really good book, if you decide not to buy it you really will be missing out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2013
My beautifully England is a touching and disturbing accout of three immigrant women coming to England with the hope of a better life. The reality of culture, racism, sexism and unfulfilled dreams hit with hard and crushing blows.
The author has emphatically captured and enabled the reader to look through the terrace windows and gain an insight into the repressed and frustrated lives of three women.

The book is definatley a good read and despite some preconceived ideas I was soon transported into the drama of a new life, the death of a dream and the strength of the human spirit to survive. I found the narrative to be very good and thought provoking. The book deserves my five star rating and is a inspiring must read.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2013
The writer has sensitively captured the rawness of life in a Northern town for 3 female, immigrants beginning life in the UK. Not the world of 'milk & honey' they were expecting. Michelle Flatley draws on emotion, fear and love for these vulnerable women.
The backdrop is set in a deprived area of Burnley with many social issues linked to a once thriving mill-town. The story seeks to become their 'voice' . My Beautiful England encapsulates "deepest truths with the lies of fiction".
A worthy read .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2013
I really enjoyed this book - the author is new yet the book reads like the work of an established writer. The subject is thought provoking and I found myself wanting to know more. She presents as knowledgeable in her subject area and I wondered how much of it was based on her experiences which really made me think about what life in a Northern town (I live in one myself) might be like for other nationalities. It was interesting to see it described through the eyes of others as things that I see every day yet am de-sensitised to; (weather, building etc) were remarked upon. I found myself involved in the lives of the women in the book and hoping for happiness for them. The book provides a interesting look through the eyes of three very different women brought together through one common factor - it builds a picture of friendship through good and bad times. I won't spoil the book for those of you yet to read it by telling you whether this worked out for them or not.
It's good to read new talent and this definitely felt like that is what it was. I look forward to reading more from Michelle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2013
This isn't the kind of book I would normally read, but as someone who spent some time growing up in Burnley, is married to an immigrant, and has also been an immigrant, it was firmly put on my "to read" list when I heard about it. After all, how many books have been based in Burnley!

This story of the three women and their experiences coming to a town in Northern England was good to read. I could empathise with what they were going through (at least to some degree), and I thought the author did a great job of creating and describing the characters thoughts and experiences. The three women come from vastly different backgrounds and this came through well. At times, I couldn't help feel a little sad and depressed at the situations described, but then that is how life is for some people unfortunately.

Ultimately, given the fluidity of population movement in the modern world, I think this is a book that a lot of people would enjoy, and get something out of.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2013
This was an incredible book. A thought provoking account of immigrant experiences in Burnley, Lancashire. A compelling read about some uncomfortable issues. It is very well written and the individual accounts are inspiring.
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