The English Understand Wool by Helen DeWitt - review by Connor Harrison

Connor Harrison

Cut & Run

The English Understand Wool


W W Norton 64pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

The English Understand Wool is narrated by seventeen-year-old Marguerite, trained by her mother in the ways of taste and high society. It isn’t long, however, before we discover that Maman and Daddy are not her real parents at all: they stole baby Marguerite and her $100 million inheritance from her appointed guardians. Now, on the cusp of being apprehended, the fugitives vanish, taking the fortune but not the child.

What follows this sudden abandonment is the $2.2 million sale of Marguerite’s ‘story’. The publisher and her editor insist on it being an account of trauma and betrayal, but Marguerite does not deal in public histrionics, which could only ever be ‘mauvais ton’. So instead she begins to write

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