Almost English

Almost English
Almost English

'Late Shakespeare meets Modern Family, and it's irresistible' The Times

In a tiny flat in West London, sixteen-year-old Marina lives with her emotionally delicate mother, Laura, and three ancient Hungarian relatives.

Imprisoned by her family’s crushing expectations and their fierce unEnglish pride, by their strange traditions and stranger foods, she knows she must
escape. But the place she runs to makes her feel even more of an outsider.

At Combe Abbey, a traditional English public school for which her family have sacrificed everything, Marina realises she has made a terrible mistake. She is the awkward half-foreign girl who doesn’t know how to fit in, flirt or even be. And as a semi-Hungarian Londoner, who is she? In the meantime, her mother Laura, an alien in this strange universe, has her own painful secrets to deal with, especially the return of the last man she’d expect back in her life. She isn’t noticing that, at Combe Abbey, things are starting to go terribly wrong.

 

A hugely gifted writer
— Sunday Times
A little masterpiece...wonderful
— Guardian
Mastery of narrative...pure joy
— Financial Times
Exotic, magnificent and just a little bit sinister, it is the Hungarian characters who take over this beautifully written novel . . . Mendelson’s novels inhabit similar territory to those of Maggie O’Farrell, with the same capacity for extreme noticing, the same profound emotional intelligence shaping the characters and driving the narrative. But Mendelson’s world is sharper, her sense of the world a little more cynical. Almost English has been longlisted for this year’s Booker; it deserves to win for the quality of the writing alone . . . Almost English is a delight. Beautifully written, warm, funny and knowing, it manages to seize an entire slice of Europe for itself, a vast empire full of new and interesting questions about how close, and how far apart, all these postwar worlds have made us. Above all, it is written with love. And good food
— Observer
‘The multi award-winning Charlotte Mendelson is famous for whipping up the hottest, messiest, family dramas a writer of literary fiction can . . . Her angst will ring toe-curlingly true for anyone who has tried to forget the years 15 to 18. It’s an itchy, humiliating, lusty, desperate time and Mendelson depicts it with such immediacy that you will swear you can smell Clearasil . . . a delicious jumble of tragi-comedy that should ensure an easy jump from the Booker longlist to the short. This is late Shakespeare meets Modern Family and it’s irresistible
— The Times
Charlotte Mendelson is much admired by the cognoscenti and ALMOST ENGLISH ought to be a bestseller. The account of a girl from a family of Hungarian aunts, dealing with love and old lechers at a ghastly boarding school in the 1980s, is sheer bliss — pure rueful comedy with endless resourcefulness . . . I adore her novels and wish there were many more of them . . . The [Booker] shortlist should comprise McCann, Tóibín, Mendelson, Crace, House and Catton. House’s novel is the one you ought to read, and Mendelson’s the one that everyone will read and love
— Philip Hensher, Spectator