Books For Christmas! #1 – The Anglo Files, A Field Guide to the British

November 22nd, 2010

I read Sarah Lyall’s The Anglo Files, A Field Guide to the British over a year ago. My husband got it for me for my birthday last year. It has been on my to-do list to write a glowing review of this book ever since and I am finally getting it done.

I loved this book. It is funny, scandalous and interesting plus you learn a few things about England that they just don’t teach in schools!

Things like how gay the culture is. I am sure that the previous sentence is going to offend someone so sorry in advance – but Sarah Lyall said it – not me and the way she says it is both hilarious and terrifying. It all comes out when she writes about the private boys schools in England. Her comments reminded me very much of the way that Frank Schaffer wrote about English boy’s schools in Crazy for God. Their stories seem to dwell on some of the same uh… ‘areas’.  From Lyall’s perspective, it is almost as if the oversexed atmosphere of these schools ‘penetrates’ everything in the culture from the British reserve to the poor service.  Well – that might be a leap, but let’s just say that her chapter on English Boarding schools is forever burned in my mind and that is really the only part of the book I remember!

Lyall is an American who currently is the London correspondent for the New York Times. She lives in London with her author husband, Robert McCrum. Her book is the story of how she adjusted to life in Great Britian after she married an Englishman. She covers everything from child rearing (she has two daughters) to British men and how poorly they tend to interact with women, to English aristocracy to how impossible English men are to British schools to the difficulty of communicating with English men, to sexism in the work place, to how extraordinarily impenetrable the males of the UK can be (unless they are enrolled in an English Boarding school). Did I mention her chapters on difficult English men?

Her writing is hilarious, smart, and titillating. A great gift for the Anglophile on your list and if YOU are the Anglophile on your list – I guess you will just have to gift yourself!


  • Shelley:

    I’ll have to check it out. Btw, I devoured “Crazy for God” & “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress” on vacation in Belize last month. I love your book recommendations!

  • Sue from UK:


    England is a very camp society. Some of our most popular entertainer are very gay and there is a lot of dressing up in drag both on stage and off (fancy dress parties and stag nights etc). I don’t think it can all be blamed on public schools.

  • JJ:

    I can always count on you for a good book recommendation – I’ll be on the lookout for this one. I waited for the “The Help” from my library for a loooong time and it was so good! “Mennonite” was fun too. Thank you Rechelle for taking the time put in your book reviews!

  • JJ:

    I just got my copy of this yesterday and am enjoying it. I loved how the women in Parliament got back at the one gentleman – Click! My husband is a Human Resource director and he said it sounded like a HR nightmare to him! He deals with sexual harassment complaints all the time.