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By: M.J. Boyle

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Pages: 96 Ratings: 5.0
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By 2022 an increasing number of Britons were asking themselves “what has gone wrong?”

Great Britain – a nation with an imperial history, a nation of profound innovators, a nation steeped in tradition and pride. The more complex the picture, the more difficult it is to see clearly exactly what the problems are. Solutions are rarely blindingly obvious and yet the seeds of the problems may well be staring us in the eye. Either in the conference room, at the dinner table, or in the mirror.

Here we accompany a typical British family from 1955 to 2022. Their dialogues reveal historical parallels and interesting insights into perceived “Britishness” over this period. Their lives and their beliefs, their travels and experiences, their attitudes, and expectations, expose them for what they are: an average family of the time. For they, and others like them, were weaving the thread into the British flag. The respective comments take us down the path leading to the social and political situation of 2022.

The mirror held before us shows that what Abraham Lincoln once said remains true today: “you’ve got to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”

Every single person has the possibility to change what they see in their own mirror, and in society’s mirror. All that is necessary is to acknowledge that needs must.

M.J Boyle was born in the mid 1950s in the North, grew up in the South of England but has spent her adult life in Europe. Her strong ties to her home country and her sincere affection for Britain influenced her career in teaching English as a foreign language.

 

As a university lecturer and Business English teacher she remains an avid observer not only of British society but also of the political landscape in Great Britain.

 

She lives with her family in the South of Germany.

Customer Reviews
5.0
3 reviews
3 reviews
  • Oliver Sievering

    “Mirror, mirror on the wall" illuminates - illustrated by many internal family conversations - the social transformation of Great Britain from the 1950s until today from the author's perspective, an English woman living in Europe. The retrospective is, at heart, critical. It holds up a mirror to British society. Many British families will probably find themselves in these dialogues. The author`s aim is for the book to be perceived as a mirror of society over time, to stimulate critical thinking and discourse. This she powerfully achieves through a profound understanding of the nuances of British culture and the selected style of presenting her insights. On the one hand, one would like to think that the transformation of the dialogues described in the book could have taken place in this, or a similar way in other countries, because every country has changed in the past decades, in the views, in religious and social values. On the other hand, one recognizes many unmistakable British peculiarities of royal, religious, and socio-political nature as well as the conservative attitudes, which show that these dialogues could only have taken place in Great Britain. Great Britain was proud of its Empire, but this has been crumbling more and more since the end of World War II. The break-up of their world power gnaws at the self-confidence of many Britons, but they try to cling to old glory. This, in turn, has an effect on their perception of their national pride. The book relentlessly exposes the various contradictions.
    The United Kingdom joined the EEC in 1973 under the Conservative government of Edward Heath. Never really warming to its role in the EU, there was always a portion of skepticism. The many regulations and perceived paternalism from Brussels frustrated many countries, especially the proud English citizenry. So, it is not surprising that the United Kingdom is to date the only member to have left the EU. The referendum was very narrowly in favor of Brexit and showed the deep divisions in British society. Through the Brexit process, Great Britain was led by the divisive Prime Minister Boris Johnson. England has had many strengths as well as controversial figures as prime ministers. Many of them did not unify but rather contributed to the division of the country, which was also reflected within family units. "Mirror, mirror on the wall” depicts the inner quarrel of British families and citizens over the years.






  • Clemens Kochinke, Washington, DC

    Like a double helix, Mirror Mirror on the Wall winds twisted turns through the evolution of Britain's society and meanders along its development of norms through seven recent decades. Family dialogues introduce contentious topics of stratification and privilege in Britain. They trigger somber analyses, with additional dialogues supporting arguments in a refreshing and suspenseful writing style. Boyle untangles the effects of the liberation from the economic constraints suffered during and after World War II on a class-driven populace that, at long last, recovers its respected, even influential, and dominating place in the world. In parallel strands of development, class structures crumble ever so slowly, often at the expense of persons and matters foreign, while women strive against the odds to enter realms and freedoms outside of the hearth and home domain persistently assigned to them. Often as unaware victims, determined guardians of the crusty class construct confront such progression while grudgingly acknowledging the downsides of British rule over large swaths of the globe. Racism and xenophobia sprout, as does misogyny in these decades, culminating in strands of the helix dissolving and families disintegrating as innate notions of the societal pyramid fail them. Boyle embraces the maturing of the nation in its affiliation with Europe from which it ultimately grows estranged. As Britain turns inward, new oddities in politics and economics strike the author as self-inflicted wounds, and in later decades Boyle reveals in dialogues and scrutiny sentiments touching on personal emotions - arguably incompatible with the national norm characterized by the stiff upper lip. The resulting thread from a fact-driven opening to a fraying finish invites the reader to compassionately discover the soul of the nation as well as its effects on its constituent components: men, women, and family.


  • Robert Pomes, Munich

    Born and educated in England with its specific history, culture, and language, Boyle followed her heart and moved to Europe. Nonetheless, affiliation to her homeland ensured strong ties with her family, friends, and the native country remained.
    From an objective vantage point, Boyle proves herself capable of sharp analysis of British society from the mid-1950s to 2022. The dialogues within the family portrayed allow a personal, indeed intimate, insight into British society over time.
    Mirror, Mirror on the Wall ruthlessly uncovers peculiarities and attitudes existent to varying degrees in British society during this period.
    British readers are offered a compelling mirror giving an opportunity for deep reflection and discussion. European readers encounter revealing insights into a country that has become increasingly estranged over the last decade.

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