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Americashire: a Field Guide to a Marriage Paperback – April 23, 2013

3.4 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A wonderfully charming and eclectic take on Britain's Disneyesque Cotswolds by a droll Californian." -- "A wonderfully charming and eclectic take on Britain's Disneyesque Cotswolds by a droll Californian. "Personal Endorsement"

Book Description

Jennifer Richardson and her husband bought a cottage in the Cotswolds in the hopes of finding respite from their stressful London existence—but instead, their new rural life forced Richardson to confront her husband’s depression, her own ambivalence toward motherhood, and a frightening medical diagnosis that threatened her whole world.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: She Writes Press (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1938314301
  • ISBN-13: 978-1938314308
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #538,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Americashire is the story of an American woman married to a British man, who is persuaded to move to her husband's country and finally ends up settling in a peaceful (but eccentrically British) village in the Cotswolds.

The story of their marriage, their move, the conflicts they survive and choices they make are interspersed with cheerful anecdotes about local events, interesting characters, and maps of local rambles suited to every possible circumstance (including "a walk to challenge your social preconceptions," and my personal favorite, a "walk for when you've forgotten your pants").

This is a lively and warmhearted commentary on rural British life, full of good humor and resilience. I admit to being a confirmed Anglophile myself, and the author's description of the beauty of the English countryside in springtime made me homesick (for a "home" I've visited for all of two weeks, granted). The author's descriptions and characterizations are deftly drawn, giving the reader a sense of vivid presence in the moment.

Richardson's commentary on the village's characters is witty and entertaining without being unkind, and her outsider's perspective on local events comes across charmingly as half bemused anthropologist, half new kid eager to fit in. Against that colorful background, the author relates more serious events (arguments with her husband, battles with his recurrent depression, fears for her health, and worry over life changes) with wry humor and affectionate warmth.

The writing style is cheerfully tongue-in-cheek, so it is easy to be touched profoundly one minute and laughing out loud at a clever turn of phrase the next. The reader ends up feeling like an old friend invited over for tea, biscuits, and gossip.
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Format: Paperback
As I was reading Americashire: A Field Guide to Marriage, my first thought was that the book would appeal to readers who enjoy memoirs and travelogues such as Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, particularly because of the rich descriptions of Richardson's adventures with the various festivals, foods and drinks. During the time that Gilbert was writing Eat, Pray, Love, she had many personal issues she was grappling with, and in Americashire, Richardson is also searching for answers, particularly those pertaining to her relationship with her husband and ambivalence toward motherhood. She is torn because she and her husband made a promise to her parents that they would start trying to conceive within a year, and throughout the book, the proverbial clock is ticking.

Richardson has a dry but witty writing style that really appealed to me. I enjoyed reading about the couple's many adventures to the festivals and auctions steeped in traditions that would make any outsider feel a little out of place, and her description of the memorable cast of characters in such chapters as "The Cotswold Cult" was hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud at many of her musings, particularly one chapter where her husband fretted over not having the proper attire for an afternoon hike through the countryside and what he eventually chose to wear: "an orange, sweat-wicking tank top, black running shorts, hiking boots, mud-protecting gaiters, and a backpack." I had a similar reaction to the chapter "Checkpoint Charlie with Palm Trees," where she describes a visit back to the U.S. to visit her parents in Florida:

"Like a toddler who prefers the bubble wrap to the fancy toy that came in it, expatriates find Taco Bell and Target to be two of the chief pleasures of returning to the States.
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Format: Paperback
I read--or rather devoured--Americashire on the plane from San Francisco to Dallas. When I landed at DFW, rather than feeling exhausted by the flight, it seemed as though I'd spent the entire ride with a good girlfriend. Jennifer Richardson is a skilled and concise storyteller who paints a vivid and detailed picture of rural England. While her book is likely going to be promoted as a travel book (and it should, I'm dying to find the idyllic England she found) it is also an honest and revealing memoir about her personal journey as well as her travels. Akin to Cheryl Strayed's WILD (which I finished right before this), Americashire is a candid and revealing memoir in which the author doesn't sugar-coat her flaws, and you end up loving her for being so real, so honest, and letting you have a glimpse into her life. She shares her experience as a traveler and a woman on a personal journey including her marriage and her struggle in facing her decision about whether or not to become a mother. This is brave territory and Richardson navigates it with skill, humor, and plain old good writing.

This is a simple story, unfettered by pretense and beautifully told.
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Format: Paperback
Do you ever start a book with a pre-conceived notion? The genre, the author, the website, the reviews, maybe even the book cover gives you a "feeling" of what the book is going to be like. It was like that with me and Americashire, a book I was given as a part of a WOW Blog Tour. I thought it would be silly sort of romp with an out of place American expat as the Bull in the China Shop. And it was! It was one of those great books that are so funny and memorable you are continually saying to everyone else in the room "Wait, let me read this to you."

But author Jennifer Richardson didn't stop with that. She made Americashire much more than a travel memoir. She wove some really important issues in with the wacky English traditions and unforgettable characters. And it made for a perfect balance. A book solely about medical issues and the question of "Do I want to be a parent?" would have been unrelentingly serious. Instead, merged with the wackiness of life in the English countryside the serious sections of the book were much more approachable. It was easier to look at the questions Jennifer faced and ask yourself "What would I have done?"

Anyone with an Anglophile vein, a love of travel, a difficult partner and family (aren't they all?) or questions about the big choices we all have to make when shaping our lives will enjoy Americashire. It's both a fun read and a book that makes you think. Not a combo you often see!
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