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My Beautiful England by Michelle Flatley - apply for free copy and post your feedback - CLOSED

(45 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 12-Sep-13 12:29:36

This week we have 50 copies of Michelle Flatley's debut novel, My Beautiful England to give away.

In a deprived town in Lancashire three women from very different backgrounds are thrown together at a local language school, united by their search for a new identity and desire to interact with others. My Beautiful England highlights the human stories behind the bigger picture of immigration in the UK and is a beautifully written and thought provoking debut. If you would like to read and review, apply for one of fifty free copies.

Bumpstarter Thu 26-Sep-13 00:23:19

Looking forward to hearing your reviews about this one!

minsmum Fri 27-Sep-13 10:05:52

This arrived in the post this morning, talk about good timing, I am on holiday tomorrow. I won't be able to post my review for a couple of weeks. Thank you

ummlilia Fri 27-Sep-13 10:50:24

ooh,just got the e-mail,thanks a lot, looking forward to this smile

TippyHaha Fri 27-Sep-13 11:59:58

Just received my copy as well, thank you. Looking forward to reading it and the ensuing discussion but, like minsmum, I'm on holiday from tomorrow so will be a couple of weeks with my review.

HorseyGirl1 Fri 27-Sep-13 12:28:06

I'm temping at the moment and the job is REALLY REALLY quiet. I so need a good book to read and I can't wait to read this one. Thanks very much for this.

tinypumpkin Fri 27-Sep-13 12:50:44

Read the first chapter last night and it was good. I am looking forward to reading the rest smile Thanks MN.

AugustRose Fri 27-Sep-13 13:47:59

Ooh thank you mine just arrived, can't wait to start on it.

FernieB Fri 27-Sep-13 18:36:43

Mine arrived this morning and as it was a lovely day I took it and my lunch into the garden for half an hour. Four hours later I'd finished it. I got completely lost in it and neglected everything else I was supposed to do. Loved all the women especially Su and Lenka who were haunted by their past. It had a good pace to it and drew me in. Hard to believe this is a first novel. It was very well written and I could clearly see all the characters. Can't wait to read more from Michelle Flatley.

FernieB Fri 27-Sep-13 18:37:54

Forgot to say - thank you for the book. It was a lovely surprise grin

johnworf Tue 01-Oct-13 09:32:16

Started mine last night and couldn't put it down (until I noticed it was midnight blush) But 7 chapters in and I'm gripped. Poor Su who has left Thailand for a better life but ends up in Burnley with a man who is hardly an improvement on her old life.

Can't wait to get stuck into it again later. smile

tinypumpkin Tue 01-Oct-13 09:55:03

I finished this quickly (another midnight reader). I really liked it, more so than I thought I would.


I did find the end part a little hard to believe though. It seemed to me that it did not fit with the remainder of the novel (e.g. Su and David) and also Lenka's husband's sudden transformation.

Overall I did really enjoy it though and it made me think, that can never be a bad thing.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 01-Oct-13 12:32:47

HAd to flick through so as not to read the spoiler. Read the first few chapters so far. Looking forward to seeing how the other characters stories fit in with Su's

violetwellies Tue 01-Oct-13 19:51:54

Pumpkin, I thought Lenka ended up with David? confused

I so loved this book and am looking forward to her next one, totally gripping. I did feel that the sex scene was a bit odd, and did not fit in with the rest of the book, but otherwise a gripping, thought provoking read.

I have been wondering about the numbers of women who have suffered trauma in their countries of origin, and who may in fact suffer further once they arrive as brides in the UK. Trapped in abusive relationships as they are dependent on the marriage for the visa, or frightened of upsetting their families.

tinypumpkin Tue 01-Oct-13 20:52:26

Sorry Violet, I was posting in a bit of a hurry. I meant the sex scene. You are right about Lenka ending up with David.

It was indeed thought provoking, I take so much freedom for granted.

AugustRose Thu 03-Oct-13 13:26:15

I loved this book and was drawn in by the characters from the first few pages. I thought warmth and friendship of the 3 women was brilliantly written, that they could come from 3 different places, cultures and ages and still become such good friends yet struggle with the English people around them was so telling of how we deal with immigration as a nation.

I too was a bit suprised by the scene with Su and David, it didn't quite fit with the rest of the story and the endings seemed a little rushed. Sammy's tale was so sad, to come to England expecting freedom but still remain trapped by family and culture.

I met two lovely Polish ladies when I was pregnant with my third baby and they were having their first. I have always admired their determination to make good lives for themselves and daughters even when faced with racism and prejudice. Both are very hard workers and speak better English than many of the 'I don't see why I should have to work' young girls who live in my local town.

There may be a few Burnely locals who are not entirely happy with Michelle's depiction of their town, even if it is written from experience!

sweetkat31 Fri 04-Oct-13 14:27:20

I have thouroughly enjoyed reading this book, the book is very well written and the characters are likeable. Also the differences in cultures are very well researched. The storyline is gripping and I couldn't put it down. Thankyou for sending me the book to read and I can't wait for the next one!

penguinpaperback Sat 05-Oct-13 00:13:32

I enjoyed this book too. And I read it in two installments. Like others here it was a thought provoking book. I live in a sleepy part of the UK and have never been to Burnley but because of this I don't (think) I had many preconceptions. I now feel I have learnt a little from this book, thank you Michelle, how daunting and lonely it must feel, just doing everyday things, buying a mango from the market. I don't usually read books set in the here and now. I'd just finished a Georgette Heyer before starting this. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. Thank you Michelle, I hope this is just the first of many novels to come and thank you mumsnet.

johnworf Sat 05-Oct-13 14:20:05

Have a few chapters to go but enjoying this book immensely. smile

MereMortal Sat 05-Oct-13 16:14:49

I loved this book and will certainly be looking out for further books by Michelle Flatley. I found that story flowed easily along covering the past and the present of the three women. I was immersed in their lives right from the first page.

I was a little disappointed with the ending. Like others I found the sex scene slightly jarring. I feel that things were maybe tied up too neatly in the end. But, as it's fiction I suppose you can let some of the characters have a happy ever after.

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 05-Oct-13 20:51:28

I found it very moving. I had a bad feeling about Sammy early on

I thought the characters were very real with good & bad in them. It would have been do easy for characters like Suriya fir example to be made out to be evil stepmother type cliches. The insight into her thoughts showed she did care, it's just her whole belief set is totally different.

Agree with the sex scene, very odd. And Su didn't act like a 40 odd year old

I felt the ending was a bit rushed.

johnworf Sun 06-Oct-13 20:28:35

Finally finished it. I had a little tear in my eye at the end sad

I also had a feeling about Sammy that it wouldn't end well for her. I was glad that Su and Lenka had better outcomes.

Really enjoyed reading this book though. smile

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book - it was a quick and easy read, while also being interesting, thought-provoking and moving. I look forward to more from Michelle Flatley.

mindingalongtime Mon 07-Oct-13 14:27:29

I liked the book, but didn't really like the style of writing. No sentence was more than about 6 words maximum, so I found it a bit staccato, maybe that was intentional as that is how English comes across when spoken by Thai, Philipina people ( generalising of course).

Thank you for the book

I'm about half way in to this book, I am loving it, have purposely not read any of the threads above mine - will come back for a read once I've finished the book smile

SunshinePanda Tue 08-Oct-13 22:25:41

Just started my copy thank you - will post when finished.

MaddAddam Fri 11-Oct-13 15:36:00

I'm halfway through. I really liked the idea behind it - having worked in language schools and lived in the NW I was interested. So far I'm not finding it totally gripping, I felt a bit depressed by the tsunami stuff. Now I'm in the bit where the Thai wife isn't very happy, and the other women are unhappy too - I suppose it will get less depressing eventually.

soneliz Fri 11-Oct-13 20:07:50

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was genuinely sad when I finished it. From the beginning I was totally hooked by the storyline and loved how the author intertwined the characters in so many ways. It was cleverly written, very thought provoking and a fantastic debut for the author . I actually miss reading about the lives of the 3 women and look forward to reading more from Michelle Flatley.

misspopsicle Sat 12-Oct-13 12:44:20

Initially, I wasn't sure if I'd like this book or not but I really did. I found it really interesting to see England through Su's eyes - I had a good look round and I suppose the UK can look grey and dreary compared to Thailand. I loved that the 3 women were able to overcome a language barrier to communicate and become so close. It didn't completely grip me although but it was a nice read.

MaddAddam Sat 12-Oct-13 13:32:44

I've finished it now, I enjoyed the second half more, the Burnley bits rather than the Thailand setting. But it was a bit depressing. I would have liked it if the men who killed Rob got arrested for it. It feels a bit as though too many abusive men got away with their violence - Kamil and the 3 who killed Rob. And the women just had to put up with it - even if they'd moved away, like Lenka, they still had the scars. And the men just got to feel a bit remorseful.

minsmum Sun 13-Oct-13 20:03:18

I just got home about an hour ago from my holiday and thought I would post my review.

First the appearance of the book, I had a lot of paperbacks with me, and I loved the cover and thought the quality of the paper it was printed on appeared to be vastly superior to the others that I had with me.
When I started this book I was worried that it wasn't my type of book. I absolutely loved it, It was well written and easy to read , very hard to put down.

The second part of the book based in Burnley was my favourite part. The relationship between the three women seemed very believable. I don't think we necessarily realise how isolated some women can be and the deaths of Robb and Sammy were sad but seemed somehow inevitable.

I assumed the sex scene between David and Su was important as I thought Su's child was David's not Bobby's.
I really enjoyed this book and would be happy to read more of her work

I finished this book last night - I loved it. Right from the start I was drawn right in. I've been to Patong and stayed in one of the beachside hotels, I was in Malaysia when the Tsunami hit and this book so many memories back of that time. I was eager to find out how Su, Lenka and Sammy would adapt to life in England. I was hooked, and wasn't expecting Sammy's storyline to end the way it did.
A great read, I'll be passing my copy on to friends to enjoy too.

ummlilia Tue 15-Oct-13 11:28:30

I really enjoyed this book. I'm a Lancastrian myself and although not from Burnley I have visited and had a very vivid mental picture of the setting. I also am married to a non EU immigrant and have had dealings with both the immigration system and the bi- cultural marriage aspect of the story (SU)(albeit from the british side.) There was a lot of truth to this book.
My only reservation about it was as a Muslim I'm constantly seeing negative stuff about muslims in the press and I did for a fleeting moment feel 'oh no, not another story of terrible muslim men' ..however I stuck with it and I know these things do go on in some families(as do the domestic violence issues faced by Lenka). In the end I found it to be much more nuanced than that and ultimately I was happy to have read it.

kristinage Tue 15-Oct-13 12:11:48

Fantastic!!! Really enjoyed the reading. The story is close to these days life, some parts, about Robs murder, felt like news on TV. Interesting how three different backgrounds, despite all differences in culture, religion have so much in common. England to the women meant - FREEDOM. Unbelievably strong friendship. I will pass this book for all my friends especially, foreign ones.

helenajane Tue 15-Oct-13 12:57:12

Enjoyed this book, the characters seemed real & the subject had obviously been well thought out. I read it over several evenings but looked forward to it, i will look out for more from this author.

TippyHaha Tue 15-Oct-13 13:02:11

I too really enjoyed this book and am glad to have read it as it's not really the kind of book I would ordinarily have chosen.

I really admired Su and Lenka for their positivity and determination to improve their lives and make the most of their situations even though the reality of living in England was falling short of their expectations. Perhaps the bad hand life had dealt them so far meant they took a more realistic view that it was up to them to take control of their futures and not become passive bystanders in their own lives. I think this was particularly true of Su who was determined to make a place for herself in an environment so different to what she had previously known.

Sammy, though, was altogether more passive and looked to others (first Ehsan, then Rob, then Ehsan again) to lead her through life. At first I wondered if this was due to her younger age and relative lack of life experience but after a while it became clear that it was because this was what was expected of her within her culture and family. Her lack of freedom and the right to have a say in her own life (even down to her clothes) was very sad and I was glad to see her beginning to address some of these things with Ehsan. However, I have to say that I think it was an almost unbelievable leap for her to begin a relationsip with Rob, given her 'meekness' in other areas of her life. Whilst obviously this was a necessary plot to highlight to Sammy the shortfalls of her marriage and circumstances, I thought hers was the most unsatisfactory storyline. This is particularly true of Sammy's 'ending' which in some respects I think was a bit of a convenient closure. Although in the section at the end of the book about why she wrote it, Flatley stated that the 2003 murder of Shafilea Ahmed had influenced her, I think I would have preferred a less dramatic storyline for Sammy - one where we could have seen her life five years down the line.

Sorry if that last bit sounds too critical; it's really just my opinion which may be vastly different to others. As I said earlier, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was very confidently written and, like a previous poster, I was surprised to read this is her first novel. It was extremely well-researched and I thought very authentic. It seemed to me that Flatley captured some of the native characteristics of the three different women very well and gave each their own distinctive voice. The book also showed how language and cultural differences could be overcome by the more universal traits of empathy, kindness and friendliness. I'll definitely keep an eye out for any future books by her.

Herecomesthehotstepper Fri 18-Oct-13 21:55:45

Started reading this morning and have just finished.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I liked the way the sentences were written as if they were being spoken by someone who spoke little English.
It was very thought provoking and nice to see certain characters portrayed in a different light (Suriya not just A mean old lady)
I too felt the ending was a bit rushed and I didn't even consider that the su's baby was David's until I read a post upthread.
Overall a well written story that drew me in. I would like to read more from Michelle Flatley.

honeyjar Sat 19-Oct-13 20:37:46

Thank you for sending me this book. I loved every page, and lost myself in the three main characters. My heart stopped when Suriya, tried to get the phone from Sammy. I cried when they went to Rob's house. I held my breath when there was loud knocking in the middle of the night at Lenka's house. And had a lump in my throat when Chelsea came back from her holiday. Michelle Flatley, what a wonderful book, I did not want it to end......mumsnet thank you for sending me a fantastic read

Belo Mon 21-Oct-13 12:13:49

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book and I immediatly passed it onto my mum who used to work in an ESOL centre. She read it in a day! She found it believable and touching. She thoroughly recommends it. I will be reading it next.

bimblebee Tue 22-Oct-13 17:06:46

I read the book over the course of a week and a half: it was very easy reading and flowed well. I also preferred the parts set in Burnley and thought they were realistically written.
The characterisations were good, particularly Su's voice. However, I really hated the bit where she had sex with David - it really didn't fit with her character at all. And after that scene it seemed as if I was just waiting for the announcement of her pregnancy, it was so predictable.
Also, I noticed early in the novel that some of the punctuation, particularly commas, seemed to be in the wrong place. Things like that tend to jar with me.
On the whole, I enjoyed the sense of relationship between the three women. It was very well done and better than the 'plot' itself. Like some of the other reviewers have mentioned, I think the last chapters appeared somewhat rushed (also, Lenka ending up with David made me cringe a little!)
Overall, I would agree that it's a good first novel and look out for further work from Michelle Flatley.

HorseyGirl1 Fri 25-Oct-13 10:37:51

I felt so sorry for Sammy and had it a feeling things wouldn't end well for her. Her story really did feel horribly true to life, maybe not so much her romance but the other aspects. Su, I liked but agree with the sex scene, not because it was awful, just didn't seem to fit with the rest of it, I expected her to end up with David and sad it didn't work out like that for her but happy she had a child. Lenka, I just liked. Enjoyable book and read it like one of the others in two goes - think that's a good recommendation!

TeaAddict235 Thu 07-Nov-13 16:00:10

I really enjoyed reading this book. It is an easy read and a gently approached topic of integration for those who are unfamiliar with it. I would have liked to learn more about Lenka in comparison to Su and the other characters. I would also have liked to have had maybe an African or latin american character, as there were two asian characters, and the ones at the centre all were asian.

The author kept the sentences quite short and superficial for me, but I understand that this may occur for people with english as a new language, but even later in the book the language did not really develop.
I think that if english is not your first language, or you do not have that much time to spare and do not want something too taxing, then this book is perfect. It is also good if you have haranging little ones who need your attention all of the time, as the chapters are quite short, and you can pick it up and start again at any point.

Thank you Michelle Flately.

relaxedgirl Sat 09-Nov-13 18:03:33

I really enjoyed reading this book. Thank you for sending it to me. I found the 3 main characters all very interesting and I was glad that Lenka's story in particular turned out so well. I did feel that the first 2/3's of the book was really good but that then the author decided that she needed to tidy things up and finish it all off which she did neatly and tidly. I personally would have preferred a few more loose ends with more left up to the reader. I thought the characterisation was the strong point of the book we understood the motivations behind the characters actions particularly in cases such as Suriya.

Justgemm Thu 28-Nov-13 22:12:52

I was really excited to receive a copy of ths book, but my excitement seeped away as I read the story. Having volunteered in an ESOL group I was hoping for a real-life style story. Unfortunately the Eastenders-style story lines were too dramatic to be believable.

littlewifey Fri 14-Feb-14 13:38:35

Really enjoyed this Mumsnet, thanks. Think it is really thought provoking and challenges preconceived ideas about immigration.

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