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Meeting the English
by Kate Clanchy
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It's the long hot summer of 1989 and revolution is in the air...The 'English' of this novel are a particular kind of family. Their ailing patriarch is Phillip Prys, the once-famous writer unexpectedly eclipsed first by voguish Salman Rushdie, and second by a massive stroke. His third wife, Shirin, pads through their house in Hampstead, resolute in the face of Myfanwy, first spouse, who returns with all the subtlety of a stormy weather front to manage Phillip's care. Their children, Jake and Celia, have each retreated towards drugs and food, their already strained relationship with their father unable to bear this latest rupture. And to cap it all, it's the hottest summer anyone can remember. Enter Struan. Built like a heron, fresh from Scotland, he is thrust - quite literally - into the bosom of the family as Phillip's 17-year-old nurse. He's had experience of death, but not of London. It's a foreign country, with foreign food and foreign customs. But it also has a kind of magic. As he comes under the influence of each Prys, his life begins to change in ways he could never have imagined. And so, in the meantime, do theirs...
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