Title: English as a Second Language
Author: Megan Crane
First published January 1, 2004
277 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9780446692861 (ISBN10: 0446692867)
English as a Second Language by Megan Crane follows the story of Alexandra Brennan, a young woman who is tired of her dead-end job in New York City and her smug ex-boyfriend. When he tells her she can never get into graduate school in the UK, she decides to prove him wrong.
Armed with caffeine and cigarettes, Alex sets off to face all that Great Britain and grad school have to offer, including ill-considered romantic interludes, intellectual rivals, and more books than she can read in a year. Through her trials and tribulations, Alex discovers that instead of running away from home, she may have found it.
This witty and entertaining novel is perfect for fans of Legally Blonde and anyone looking for a hilarious and heartwarming read.
About the Author
Megan Crane is an accomplished author with a USA Today bestselling status, a RITA nomination, and critical acclaim for her work. With over 100 books under her belt, she has won over readers with her romance, women’s fiction, chick lit, and young adult novels.
She also writes under the pen name Caitlin Crews, producing books for Harlequin Presents, Harlequin Dare, Harlequin Historical, and contemporary cowboy genres. Megan has a deep appreciation for all forms of romance, whether it’s through cowboys, military heroes, futuristic and historical Vikings, outlaw bikers, or fairy tale princes.
Her credentials include a Masters and Ph.D. in English Literature, and she has taught creative writing classes at places like UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. Megan is always ready to share her expertise in workshops, or to give her opinion on writing.
While she resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, a comic book artist, she can often be found in coffee shops or traveling the world. Ideally, she enjoys doing both.
In her 2016 book “Where the Wild Ladies Are,” Aoko Matsuda offers a captivating and imaginative perspective on traditional Japanese folklore. Matsuda is a critically acclaimed Japanese writer known for her unique style, blending realism with fantasy and absurdism.
The novel consists of nine short stories, each with its own protagonist. The stories all revolve around wild ladies, spirits from Japanese folklore who have spent hundreds of years observing human behavior.
These spirits are free to roam, existing outside of time, and can shape-shift to suit their needs. Despite their otherworldly nature, these spirits are relatable and familiar, dealing with issues that are universal to humankind.
They grapple with themes of grief, loneliness, and the search for belonging. Through their eyes, Matsuda explores societal norms and expectations, particularly those placed on women in Japanese culture.
Matsuda’s writing is vivid and evocative, allowing readers to easily immerse themselves in each story’s setting. She is skilled at creating a magical, dreamlike atmosphere that contrasts with the more grounded aspects of the story.
One of the strengths of “Where the Wild Ladies Are” lies in its characters, particularly the wild ladies themselves. Matsuda creates complex, nuanced portraits of each spirit, offering insight into their motives and desires.
The human characters in the stories are equally well-developed, their interactions with the wild ladies adding to their depth and complexity. However, the book can feel disjointed at times, with some stories standing out more than others.
Additionally, readers who are not familiar with Japanese folklore may find some of the references and allusions to be confusing or lacking context. Despite these minor flaws, “Where the Wild Ladies Are” is a unique and captivating book that offers a fresh perspective on traditional Japanese folklore.
It is an excellent choice for readers interested in magical realism, folklore, or feminist literature. Overall, I would rate this book a solid 4 out of 5.
The writing is beautiful, the characters are intriguing, and the themes are both timely and timeless. However, the disjointed feel of the collection and occasional lack of context leave room for improvement.
Still, “Where the Wild Ladies Are” is a must-read for anyone interested in exploring the intersection of myth and modernity.