I am an Australian woman, married to a man who was born in England and now holds three passports. Given our recent decision to move to England, this book seemed like an essential read for me, as it is of paramount importance to my husband and I that our kids settle in sooner rather than later.
I loved this book from the first page and I read it in one afternoon.
There were so many places in the book that I found myself nodding my head, realising that I have had so many experiences similar to Peterson Fenn, including when I lived in England in 1999 before I met my husband.
One of the first things she mentions is the distance factor, being far away from family particularly parents not being close enough to share and participate in her life and that of her children. So thank goodness for Skype, and Facebook and other forms of communication; but as Peterson Fenn points out there is no physical contact. You can’t reach through the computer to give your parents a hug, or hug your sister’s newborn baby son.
I thought her comments on belonging were most interesting. Sometimes non-British parents find a sense of belonging through their children, or their British spouse, perhaps even through friends or work, or it is something that remains difficult to achieve.
On page 83 she covers the issue of changing perspective and the importance of fitting in: ‘On the other hand, I have found my perspective has changed because I live here and I have definitely somewhat assimilated into the British way of life. In a way, it is imperative for me because of my children who are half British and who are growing up here. I think it’s natural to want to fit in and to do so almost seamlessly’.
I really identified with her comment about accent making you stand out a lot. Having just lived in Italy, people could tell that I was not a native speaker, and now that I have moved to England, many people can tell straight away that I am not English, and some can even pinpoint what country I do originate from. However like Peterson Fenn I also cherish my accent because it is a reflection of where I originate from.
I found the section from page 94 onwards very interesting about languages other than English in the home. It made me reflect on the past six years of our lives and how English has taken a back seat to Italian. Meghan reiterates a point that I was aware of already, that children who have more than one language are at an advantage and some of the children profiled in this book have two, three or four languages.