My Beautiful England Paperback – 25 Jul 2013
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'Flatley shows how the reality of life in England does not match up to what the women had imagined it would be; and examines the tensions at work as her characters try to adjust to living in a new culture. The result is a tale that's harrowing and uplifting by turns.' --Follow The Thread
About the Author
Michelle teaches English as a foreign language in a town in the North of England. At the moment she shares her home with her husband and children but will shortly be acquiring a puppy to mark the publication of her book.
Top customer reviews
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!
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.
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.
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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