Author: Michele Gorman
Publication date: June 4th 2010
Age group: Adult
Cover rating: 4/5
Content rating: 3.5/5
Description via Goodreads:
Take one twenty six year old American, add to one two thousand year old city, add a big dose of culture clash and stir.
To think Hannah ever believed that Americans differed from Brits mainly in pronunciation, sophistication and dentistry. That’s been the understatement of a lifetime.
She lands upon England’s gentle shores with no job, no friends and no idea how she’s supposed to build the life she’s dreaming of.
Armed with little more than her enthusiasm, she charges headlong into London, baffling the locals in her pursuit of a new life, new love and sense of herself.
Single in the City is the debut novel of author Michele Gorman. I was first drawn to this book by its cute cover, and its description definitely made it sound like the fun, light reads I love to devour. Needless to say, I was happy when I saw this sitting on the library shelf and was intrigued enough to check it out.
I'm going to get the negatives out of the way first, as I really can't ignore them. The footnotes! I have never come across anything more annoying in a book than the footnotes this novel. Scattered throughout this book are footnotes explaining American terms and pop culture references. They are so annoying! I may not be American but I certainly do not live under a rock, and I assume neither do most Europeans. I do not need footnotes explaining mundane things like ''dust bunnies'' (really, who couldn't figure that one out?), ''Oodles of Noodles'' or, obviously, ''Dr Seuss.'' Why the author felt the need to use these footnotes is beyond me. Most people have plenty of exposure to American culture (be it from books, movies, TV, music, magazines, friends, news, the internet) and most of the references were things or people which are famous all over the world. I read books with characters from far more exotic places than the US and get on just fine without footnotes. All these did was interrupt my reading every few pages and make me feel like I was being talked down to. Apparently the author has taken the footnotes out for the US edition but she could have done it for the European edition as well!
Okay, that aside, I actually did quite enjoy this book. It follows the life of a young woman, Hannah, who has decided on a whim to move to England- without having a place to stay or a way to earn money. A bit of a whacky premise but the sort of crazy thing you expect from books of this sort so I didn't mind that at all. Hannah has a lot of trouble fitting into England and messes up quite a bit in the first few weeks. It was amusing to watch her stumble her way through each day, confused by everyone and everything. She does start to slot in quite nicely though, once she starts meeting people (I was certainly impressed by how outgoing and upfront she was!) and making connections.
She gets herself a job and a place to live and starts to thrive in the city. The rest of the book follows her antics with men and friends, clients and parents. I did enjoy reading about all this and I was certainly interested enough to keep reading and see where everything was going to go. Hannah struck me as slightly narrowminded and naive at times and was unreasonable about perfectly reasonable cultural differences but I guess there is no law saying you have to like the protagonist! She was well written and believable, even if she was annoying at times. Sometimes I felt sorry for her and sometimes I wanted to shake her and tell her stop being so silly!
The writing itself is great and I was very impressed. It flows incredibly well and the voices of all the characters were strong and individual. This author certainly has talent and I am interested to see what else she has to offer. This was quite an unpolished novel but could have been made SO much more enjoyable with just a few adjustments (i.e take out the footnotes and stop treating the reader like they're clueless!). There is going to be a sequel to Single in the City and I know for certain I will be checking it out.
Would I recommend this novel? Yes- but go for the US version without the footnotes unless for some bizarre reason you've never even heard of America and really need to be told who Dr. Seuss is.