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Denis Lipman left London’s East End for Washington, DC more than 20 years ago, but made an annual pilgrimage year after year to visit aging parents, a pair of cantankerous, real-life Cockneys. He endured the visits as best he could. Enter an American wife. Not content with a grin-and-bear-it attitude, she declares that since the trip to England was inevitable, then it was to be enjoyed: see things, go places! Against his will, our expat becomes a tourist in his homeland and discovers it’s not so bad after all, ...
Denis Lipman left London’s East End for Washington, DC more than 20 years ago, but made an annual pilgrimage year after year to visit aging parents, a pair of cantankerous, real-life Cockneys. He endured the visits as best he could. Enter an American wife. Not content with a grin-and-bear-it attitude, she declares that since the trip to England was inevitable, then it was to be enjoyed: see things, go places! Against his will, our expat becomes a tourist in his homeland and discovers it’s not so bad after all, certainly better than remembered! Here is a travel memoir more carbolic than bucolic. Discover a place where the sun doesn’t always shine, where going to the loo can be an adventure, and where canned beans on toast is a cornerstone of cuisine. Taste the real East End and tour with a colorful group as they rent cottages, host outrageous relatives, meet the locals and discover the English countryside.
Posted November 5, 2011
Part travelogue, part personal memoir, part seriocomedy, it's an excellent book. Through Mr. Lipman's annual visits to England and his excursions with his eccentric parents, Mr. Lipman comes up with an entertaining and interesting way to show us a great deal of the sights outside London as well as the East End. Full of humor, full of trivia, full of characters. Great read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 4, 2010
I find many travel books are very one-note, but I really loved this one--it was satisfyingly funny but, as the book goes on, I was drawn deeper into the experiences of the author and his two families: his American wife and daughter and his Brit parents and eccentric relatives. Some of the encounters with locals were truly priceless, and I loved that many of the locations visited were off the beaten track, giving me an insiders' feel for life in England that tourists rarely experience. Also, the author doesn't lecture or interpret, as many travel books do--he tells the story and lets the reader draw his or her conclusions. I was sorry when the book ended.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 18, 2010
Denis Lipman's yearly trips to England, which he describes in A Yank Back to England, follows his family's visits to well-known and obscure places around London, with a focus on the details (pubs, streets, countryside) and the comforts/discomforts of travel -- and family. In dealing with his elderly parents' quirks throughout these visits, his understanding of them grew to calm acceptance and appreciation. Watching this growth of feeling through his eyes as he, his wife, and their small daughter visited places in company with English relatives became utterly engrossing and very touching. I was sorry to come to the end of the book and his travels.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 30, 2009
I have spent my Christmas vacation relaxing and reading a delightful, splendidly written travel memoir by Washington, DC playwright and author Denis Lipman entitled A Yank Back To England: The Prodigal Tourist Returns.
I made Denis' acquaintance last year through his interesting and colourful blog, England Rents, Raves & Rants and after reading his book about his family's annual trips to England over a six year (actually nine) period, I feel as if I know not only him but them as well! His writing is fluid, to the point, and extremely witty, and his English sense of humour and Dagenham, Essex upbringing sparkle in A Yank Back To England which is charming and authentically English.
Denis Lipman, at first glance, may seem an unassuming sort of English gentleman who has become fairly Americanized, but his life has been anything but mundane. He dropped out of school at the age of 15 to become an apprentice printer and within a week realized that magic was his calling so he left to pursue a career as a magician and magic dealer. It was this endeavor that initially led him to the United States where he would later meet his wife, Frances Erlebacher, and together, they and their only child, Kate, would spend their annual vacation visiting Denis' elderly parents, the somewhat eccentric Lew and Jessie, in the Old Country.
When magic lost its luster, Denis experimented with writing scripts, songs, and even album production and after years of trying on different occupations for the right fit, he ended up relocating to Washington, DC where he became a senior writer for a major advertising agency and a playwright for the Washington Theatre Festival. In the early 1990s, Denis and Frances started their own agency, The Creative Shop.
It was Frances who decided that they should take advantage of their yearly sojourns to England when they would visit Denis' parents and relatives and really get to know the country, both as tourists, and as their second home. Denis wasn't initially all that keen on traipsing around to see the sites, but in spite of his reluctance, discovered that he really did enjoy his homeland and even fell in love with it. I certainly fell in love with the England (Hammill, close to Sandwich) he described in Year Six: A Regency Cottage on a Bridle Path as their accommodation at Madrigal Cottage is how I have always envisioned the beauty and charm of the English countryside.
This affectionate memoir actually reveals more about the characters portrayed in it than the sites that they visit. Restaurant and hotel names are not mentioned, although cities, towns and villages are, as well as some of the prominent sites one would associate with those places, which according to Denis are all within a half-day trip from London. Meals are described in such a way that you sometimes salivate and occasionally crinkle up your nose in disgust while tea and Jack Daniels flow copiously. The weather is always a force to be reckoned with and the countryside as charismatic and as challenging as one could imagine. This is a depiction of the reality of travel and it's not always brilliant but it is remarkable.
A Yank Back To England is just as much about Denis getting to know his aging parents as adults, friends and grandparents as discovering what makes England the historical, magnificent country that it is.
For my entire review visit: http://wp.me/pJq5v-9G
Posted November 22, 2009
Posted March 14, 2010
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