Your New Monday Deb

Emily Winslow by Jonathan Player

Hi, I’m Emily! I’m an American but I currently live in England. My novel, THE WHOLE WORLD, is set in England, but being published in America. I’m thrilled to be part of the Debutante Ball.

In 2006 I moved from New Hampshire to Cambridge (UK) with my husband and two little boys. There was a lot to adapt to, starting with language:

Here, smart means “well dressed.” To compliment someone’s intellect, call them “clever.”

To revise means to study. Improving the contents of a paper is “rewriting.”

Pants are underwear. Over them, you wear jeans or “trousers” or, for sweatpants, “track-suit bottoms.” (My favorite creative use of the word ‘pants’ is as an insult.)

My novel THE WHOLE WORLD is set here in Cambridge, narrated by two Americans and three British characters. I’ve worked hard to make each narrator’s vocabulary and sentence structure reflect their nationality, but the options are more subjective than that.

Americans here absorb British words from the conversations around them, and the Brits pick up Americanisms from the media. Every character’s word choices show something about what they resist and what they cling to, and the ways they’re willing to adapt.

Despite vocabulary quibbles, I hardly feel foreign here at all, because Cambridge is a very international city. And in many ways a transient one, as students and scholars pass through for just a few years each. I’ve been here three years now, which nearly qualifies me as a local. Writing THE WHOLE WORLD gave me an excuse to explore eccentric corners of the city and university, and ask lots of cheeky questions. In the book, I’ve tried to make Cambridge itself nearly a character.

The story starts like this: Polly and Liv, two American undergraduates studying here, fall for the same charming grad student, who suddenly disappears. In narrative turns, the two girls, a blind professor, a policeman, and the missing man himself reveal what happened to him–and what terrible things then happen between those left behind.

THE WHOLE WORLD is a mystery and launches in May from Delacorte Press (Random House). I’m excited to be sharing this exciting year here at The Debutante Ball.

21 Replies to “Your New Monday Deb”

  1. Welcome! I am a huge fan of the debs and their books! I have never been disappointed with any of the debs’ debuts! I am looking forward to getting to know all of you!

  2. Welcome to the Debs! We’re very excited to hand over the reins to such a talented crop of writers. I look forward to reading your posts this year.

    As someone who is half British and half American, both the setting and the the topic of your mystery sound very intriguing to me. (I’m also a huge mystery addict.)

  3. Good luck with the next year, Emily! My husband is English (a Queen’s College alumni), and I had my first baby in London, hence all my baby vocabulary is British(nappies, dummies). Pants to that!

  4. Tiffany and Meredith–So glad I’m not the only Deb with British connections! Tiffany, have you visited Queens College? Isn’t it *gorgeous*??

    Julie, Violet and Jen–What lovely book review blogs you all have! I’m delighted you follow this blog, I’ll be checking out your reviews.

    Everyone, thanks for making me feel welcome. I’m really pleased to be here.

  5. Welcome, Emily! I *love* novels with a strong sense of place and I know I’m going to love this one. A few British-isms have crept into my speech, partly because I’ve had UK penpals for years, and partly because I gravitate toward Brit television shows and movies. The UK version of The Office is one of my favorite shows, ever. Just last night we watched the movie Rocknrolla from Guy Ritchie (though we had to turn the subtitles on, between the accents and the lingo and the mumbling/whispering we found it impossible to follow just by the audio!)

  6. Book sounds awesome and can’t wait to read it! I’m an anglophile from way back and do adore all things England…My fun fact is that I was hired to be a photographer for Prince Charles once years ago for some events at the British embassy. My husband’s claim to fame is he made Charles chuckle 😉 .
    And don’t forget ‘knickers’. Love when someone has them in a twist!

  7. Hi Emily – welcome to the Ball. Your book sounds delicious – I am 1/4 British and adore all things Brit. Looking forward to your posts this year. And congratulations!

  8. I followed your FB suggestion and what a cool site this is! Of course I’m excited about your book, but now I’m excited about some other peoples’ books too! Hugs!

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