October 13, 2010

Single in the City by Michele Gorman: Review

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I'm way too much of a planner to do what Single in the City's Hannah does. I could never see myself heading off to London on a whim for even a vacation let alone live there.

After losing her job, Hannah gets drunk and buys a plane ticket to London. When she sobers up instead of re-thinking this rather impetuous decision, she heads off anyway, even though she has no job, no apartment, and no friends to help her in London. And no work visa either. Sensible girl.

When she does arrive, she heads to a local pub and promptly sleeps with the first handsome guy she sees. Good decisions all around! The job search is a disaster so she asks her new 'friend' if he knows of anyone hiring. Conveniently, he has his own company and a job for her! What luck! She has the sense not to ask him for an apartment. Instead, she moves in with a bunch of easy going Australians who show her how to have a good time.

As she tries to settle in as a new Londoner, Hannah starts navigating the dating world with all its unfamiliar English rules and etiquette. Maybe romance is closer to home.

Single in the City is for the most part an entertaining read. I loved the clash of culture and felt for Hannah as she feels out to sea even ordering a sandwich. However, I found it hard to believe that anyone as capable as Hannah could so often behave stupidly. She makes really bad decisions while drunk. Why did she let her friend talk her into going to London? And why would she get drunk in a strange bar in a strange city and then sleep with a strange guy? He could have been a serial killer. Then she asks this guy for a job. Can she not see a problem there? Does she not realize how that looks?

Speaking of sex, I got the impression that Hannah slept with the guys she did not because she wanted to but because culturally she'd been trained that she should be sleeping with these guys by now. Like there's a giant sex calendar she needed to follow. When the sex scenes do happen, they aren't sexy just gross.

What other people think factor a lot in her decision making. I was frustrated with her for that. It might have been forgivable had Hannah learned not to let someone else push her into a spur of the moment decision by the end of the book but all I felt she was saying was, "Look at me, I'm a real Londoner now." I surely hope there is a sequel because the book ends without any closure.

Like I said, Hannah is quite capable. She's intelligent, fearless and upbeat. All these traits help her to conquer England. She also picks great friends. Chloe is a sophisticated Brit with level headed advice from everything from men to fashion. The Aussies were my favorites. They just want to have a good time and are there when she needs a shoulder to cry on. The only one I didn't care for was the pushy best friend from back in the States.

Despite some of my frustrations, I did enjoy Single in the City. It has some very funny scenes and the dialogue is witty. There is a scene on a country estate that could have been lifted right out of Brideshead Revisited. That was one of the funniest moments.

This is kind of a mixed review, I know, but I would still recommend it to anyone who wants some light, funny reading, as long as you can put up with Hannah's shenanigans.

Thanks to Michele Gorman for sending me the review copy.


You can follow Michele on Twitter (@expatdiaries) or contact her through www.michelegorman.co.uk. Single in the City is available through most bookshops and online, including Amazon (UK, US, Canada, Germany, France, Japan)

5 comments :

  1. Hmm, I'm not sure about this one, about whether to read it, I mean. A few of my reasons you've discussed, the character's choices for example, that I have an idea of from reading about it. And after having read a similar sort of book (person goes to London, culture clash) and finding it bad I'm reluctant. But away from that it's been a book constantly in my mind so maybe that's a reason to read it...

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  2. I chose not to read this book because I was afraid the main character would frustrate me beyond belief! I'm glad you enjoyed it despite that, but I think it would be too much for me.

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  3. Charlie- Most of the other reviews I've read have been positive. It might be a quirk of mine that those parts bothered me.

    Swapna- Sometimes you just know that it's not for you, I agree.

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  4. i tend to get annoyed by characters who behave in reckless ways--i'm annoyingly pragmatic--but it sounds like this one had some fun moments. maybe it would be a good beach or pool read!

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  5. Interesting review. I think I too would enjoy the cultural differences and find them funny but perhaps Hannah's antics would make me batty!

    I agree with nat that it might be a great beach or pool read.

    Thanks for the review!

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