Book Review: An Englishwoman in New York

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Author: Anne-Marie Casey
ISBN: 978-1-84854-831-2
RRP: $29.99

An Englishwoman in New York is the first book by Anne-Marie Casey, she has previously worked in television and films as a writer, editor and producer. This book was inspired by her time living in Manhattan and the relationship she forged with the city.

Lucy Lovett is the Englishwoman transported to New York after her husband loses his job, leaving her London lifestyle with the Housekeeper and the Nanny behind. Her new life in New York is a far cry from everything she left behind, right down to the mothers at the school gate that she had hoped to forge friendships with.

Lucy is our Englishwoman in New York which had me thinking she would be our lead character but she is one of four. Each of the four women are very different both in personality and circumstance, and not a group of friends like I would have expected.

The book follows the lives of these four women, as they reassess their lives and reinvent themselves. Julia is a television writer who is always scoping new stories and a complete workaholic who has moved out of the family home. Christy married a much older, wealthy man and has it all but how long will it last. The four is rounded out by Robyn who works in a bedding store to support her family. Very different women, with very different lives but all looking for something…

The book is narrated in the third person and it cobbles together the stories of the women in separate chapters. There wasn’t as much flow as I would have liked but it didn’t come across as stilted. I was left wondering for much of the book how these four characters were tied together, and why they were all necessary to the narrative.

Casey’s style of writing is engaging and entertaining. These women are so easy to relate to, they are everyday women struggling with changes in their circumstances and their lifestyles. Their lifestyles are a little beyond what I’m expecting to ever enjoy but they aren’t the super rich either. They are women approaching 40, which is a big deal to many women from all walks of life, and needing to look at life, to re-evaluate what’s important to them and at times the answers surprised even themselves.

an englishwoman in new york

Lucy has moved across the world, and where she has landed is definitely worlds away from the London she left. The contrast is demonstrated when Lucy has to return to London on her own and manages to catch up with an old friend to lament the sorry situation she finds herself in, with only one bathroom – not to mention no Nanny and no Housekeeper. It does give her an opportunity to spend much more time with her children, and her husbands new job gives them more time together changing their entire lives.

New York is a whole new world for Lucy, so much more than a fresh start, and this book is as much about her relationship with the city as with the other characters. It is a relationship that takes a while to develop after feeling so far out of her comfort zone to begin with. Lucy is always described as very English and very detached, able to sit back and observe in all situations which could make her quite a good storyteller.

Julia is a writer, she writes for television and has worked on a graphic crime show but is trying to write something more feminine and is never far from her notebook to record everything that could possibly make a good storyline and there’s quite a lot going on.

Casey has clearly portrayed that distinct difference between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us. The walls we erect for self-defence may be quite off-putting from the outside. Do they dislike you or do they just not know how to approach you? This is something that all women, all people, are faced with at some point. It isn’t nice to be the new person, the outsider or the one who’s different and it can be quite isolating. Sometimes all it needs is that eye opening moment where we see things from a different perspective to open us to new friendships and new experiences and that’s something we could all stand to learn.

I really enjoyed watching the awakening of all four of these women and it was refreshing to see them approach their challenges with strength and resilience, to change their lives to bring them the futures they wanted. A great debut book and I will be interested to see what comes next.

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