But before I go any further let me explain how I, a then-thirtysix-year-old American, ended up contemplating motherhood in a Cotswold village with a population dwarfed by that of any single London street. The stock explanation is that we needed to get a good night's sleep.
Americashire is a travel memoir of sorts by author Jennifer Richardson, detailing her time spent with her British husband in London and eventually in the Cotswolds. Jennifer wrote a guest post for this blog last week, in which she talked about how her inspiration for this book stemmed from the blog she started writing about her experiences there, called "An American in the Cotswolds." This book managed to keep my attention throughout because of the great writing, and the occasional humorous touches sprinkled within.
When an American woman and her British husband decide to buy a two-hundred-year-old cottage in the heart of the Cotswolds, they're hoping for an escape from their London lives. Instead, their decision about whether or not to have a child plays out against a backdrop of village fêtes, rural rambles, and a cast of eccentrics clad in corduroy and tweed.
Americashire: A Field Guide to a Marriage begins with the simultaneous purchase of a Cotswold cottage and Richardson's ill-advised decision to tell her grandchild-hungry parents that she is going to try to have a baby. As she transitions from urban to rural life, she is forced to confront both her ambivalence about the idea of motherhood and the reality of living with a spouse who sees the world as a glass half-full. Part memoir, part travelogue - and including field guides to narrative-related Cotswold walks - Americashire is a candid, compelling, and humorous tale of marriage, illness, and difficult life decisions.
This book kind of reminded me of David Sedaris's books, in that they are personal, but under the umbrella of being a book about travels, rather than mostly life events. Jennifer and her husband, known here as D, are deciding whether or not they want to have children, and she is also diagnosed with MS, or pre-MS, anyway, during that time period. The doctor tells them that having children actually sometimes can help with MS, which stirs the pot a bit more and makes their decision difficult.
At first I thought this memoir might be a little stuffy, although I'm not sure why I thought this, but parts of it were very funny. Jennifer and D's first "real social event as part-time residents in the Cotswolds" was the Cotswold Hunt Grand Auction. She says this of it:
It would be, he said, "a good place to meet the right sort of people." I wanted to ask him why it was necessary for a group of generally wealthy people to raise money at auction for their hobby of chasing foxes around the countryside on horseback, but instead I simply nodded in assent.There were other moments throughout the book that had me chuckling as well, like this one:
I still treasure my own hot pink, pimp-feathered hat purchased for Royal Ascot the previous year. It may not be as versatile as a Hermes scarf but the opportunities in life to wear vision-obstructing, fuchsia-colored feathers on your head are rare and must be taken.
Overall, I enjoyed Americashire and anyone who enjoys tales of American ex-pats, or even good travel stories, would enjoy this book.
3.5 stars out of 5.
WOW (Women on Writing) has generously provided a copy of Americashire for one of my readers to win. Contest will end next Monday, June 3rd at 11:59pm EST, and winner must respond to my email within 24 hours or an alternate winner will be chosen. U.S. / Canada addresses only, please.
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