My rating: 3 stars
In English Animals by Laura Kaye, a young Slovak woman depicts the way of life of an English couple in the countryside, while also delving into how they influenced her growing process. Through Mirka’s personal story, the book touches on cultural differences, xenophobia and homophobia. At first, the combination of these topics and a distinguishable set of characters makes for an interesting read. However, more or less midway through the book I started getting bored of following their daily life. It didn’t help that some of the characters’ reactions aren’t fully believable.
Nineteen-year-old Mirka is originally from Slovakia. She was hired to work in a country house in rural England. Her employers were Sophie and Richard. She thought she would be taking care of their children, but they had none. Instead, she was going to help Richard in his “latest grand money-making scheme”, taxidermy. When Mirka arrived at Fairmont Hall, Richard wasn’t at home, so she had dinner alone with Sophie. She was shocked by the way they did things. The kitchen was a mess, and they let the dogs lick the plates which they had just used. Their first meal together is used to showcase their differences in everyday behaviour. I personally found it strange that both Sophie and Mirka associated drinking alcohol with getting drunk. One doesn’t have to lead to the other.
When Richard arrived drunk from the pub escorted by a police officer, he mistreated Sophie. Mirka was concerned but didn’t do anything out of fear. It was with great surprise that the day after Mirka realised that Richard could also be kind. They were at the barn where he did his taxidermy work when she started crying because of the dead bird that he was working on. She only then understood the true meaning of death. Richard held her in his arms until the tears stopped and was sympathetic. Continue reading