Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Anthropology of an American Girl - Hilary Thayer Hamann

This is a lovely, deep and involving first novel, telling of Evie Auerbach, a young woman living on the East Coast of America in the late 1970’s and the 1980’s, detailing her high school and college days as she learns about life and love. Narrated in the first person by Evie, we are allowed into her innermost thoughts and feelings about her friends, family, fellow schoolmates, and partners, as she shares her philosophies on her varied experiences in life, and we gain insights into what her world and the American society around her is like. Relationships key to Evie’s life, are explored through the significant and traumatic events that shape her life and the lives of those close to her, and we discover how the different personalities and beliefs of those around her impact on Evie’s own evolving perceptions of the world. Evie is an artistic, creative soul, and her account here of these years in her life is an intimate, thorough portrait of a sensitive young woman and her opinions, and a compelling read.

The writer Hilary Thayer Hamann has based some of the novel on her own experiences, taken from her diary, and has combined these with fictional writing to produce a really authentic, contemplative read, rich in incisive observations and detail. Any young woman or indeed a mature woman looking back on younger days would read this and be reminded of memories of times at school or college, of experiences with love and friendship, the pains and challenges involved in growing up, and hope for the future: read and ponder what events Evie’s life evokes in you; it certainly got me thinking about school and university, friends and romance, and in so doing it brought back an array of memories for me. It’s an epic, ambitious and intelligent novel, and definitely one to sit back and immerse yourself in and enjoy the quality of the language; I think it is beautifully written, with sentences and passages which made me stop and ponder the words and the meaning.

Thank you very much to Emily at Constable and Robinson Ltd for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel.

There is a website with further information about the author and her novel here. 


  1. Interesting title. I always enjoy your reviews.

  2. Thank you Dana for you lovely comment x


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