The English American
Simon & Schuster, Mar 2008, $24.00
Twenty-eight years old Pippa Dunn is English to her bone marrow; she believes DNA would affirm that it is in her gene pool to make a proper cup of tea. So why does she feel like an outsider in the West London home of her adoptive parents, who she loves. She cherishes her sister too, but they are night and day.
However, Pippa discovers that her biological parents do not have Earl Grey running through her arteries; instead her mom is an artsy Georgia peach and her father is a politically astute DC business man. Pippa needs to meet Billie and Walt, whom she fascinates as people who will understand her unlike her adoptive prim and proper English family. When she meets them and gets to know them a bit, Pippa is disappointed as the reality fails to live up to her fantasy.
THE ENGLISH AMERICAN is a terrific insightful “biographical fictionalized account of the author’s one-woman show. The story line is superb when it focuses on Pippa’s inner thoughts on identity and belonging as the nature vs. nurture argument is debated inside her head. When the plot turns to a second chance romance between Pippa and Nick, that failed seven years ago because she was not ready; it loses some of its discernment because it diverts from the prime theme and besides his hyperbolic drama queen performance seems inane. Still Pippa makes for an insightful character who provides a strong focus between the DNA and the loving home.