I know from reading reviews that people have either loved of loathed this book there don’t seem to be many reviews where people simply aren’t bothered. I am in the love category. Xiaolu Guo wrote this novel after herself first coming to England. She found that her language was inconsistent and that she would make people laugh, sometimes at here rather than against her, and decided that this would make a great story. She was right. From the opening line ‘sorry for my english’ to the final page I was completely hooked.
The story is of Zhuang, or ‘Z’ as she likes to be called, who arrives in London to spend a year learning English and you also get the feeling that she is here to be free from the constraints of her parents and to find more of herself. The book chronicles her times mainly in England but also as she takes a trip around Europe. It also chronicles the man she meets who remains nameless throughout the novel and the affair that they embark on, one which isn’t very healthy, she becomes very dependent on someone who is quite cold.
I loved this book for the lead character of ‘Z’, I also loved how it looked at the linguistics of English and both poked fun at us and at tourists who come in from other parts of the world. I also found I laughed out loud at several different intervals like when Z confuses a vibrator with an electric toothbrush, when she first finds out that her lover is actually a bisexual, whilst also being wholeheartedly disturbed by the incident when she is one her travels in Europe and the reaction from her lover when she comes back.
Z is a great heroine as she isn’t perfect, I always like someone to have a flaw it makes them more real, she needs love in a new strange place that hasn’t turned out to be quite what you would expect and sadly finds the wrong man, she also doesn’t seem interested in friends which I found unusual. Does she find a happy ending? Read the book, it comes highly recommended from me. Xiaolu Guo is a name that I think we should definately be looking out for in the future, I have just been spending a while on Amazon mulling over buying her new Hardback ’20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth’ I dont like hardbacks, but it is very, very tempting.