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A Distant Shore [Kindle Edition]

Caryl Phillips
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

The English village is a place where people come to lick their wounds. Dorothy has walked away from a bad thirty-year marriage, an affair gone sour and a dangerous obsession. Between her visits to the doctor and the music lessons she gives to bored teenagers, she is trying to rebuild a life.

It's not immediately clear why her neighbour, Solomon, is living in the village, but his African origin suggests a complex history that is at odds with his dull routine of washing the car and making short trips to the supermarket. Though all he has in common with the English is a shared language, it soon becomes clear that Solomon hopes that his new country will provide him with a safe haven. Gradually they establish a form of comfort in each other's presence that alleviates the isolation they both feel.

Product Description


"A Distant Shore is a distillation of everything that makes Phillips's work so impressive: lucid, deceptively simple prose combined with huge ideas and complex emotions... One of those rare novels which successfully examines vast themes through the prism of small lives" Time Out "Suspenseful, atmospheric, adventurous" Independent "Phillips's clever novel about a society under increasing pressure to change won't fail to impress" Sunday Express "This is literary fiction at its very best - a gripping, character-driven novel that portrays the malaise of a whole society through the stories of two individuals" Sunday Tribune "One of the literary giants of our time" New York Times

Book Description

A superb new novel from one of 'the best and most productive writers of his generation' (New York Times). (2002-10-18)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 530 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400034507
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (30 Nov. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0049U48H8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106,821 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A clever, original book 13 Jun. 2005
I found this book hard to put down. Its method of telling the story in a jumbled order means that although the outcome is already known, interest lies in how it comes about, and this i found clever and only led to minimal confusion. It intertwines the history of two people, recounting how they ended up living next to each other, starting from the end. However, it is not a very happy book. Its full of pain and suffering, and although captivating it makes for uncomfortable reading at times.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The author has put his heart and soul into this work and his sincerity shines through every page. It is a story of two desolate individuals - a ship-wrecked, middle-aged Englishwoman and a polite and private young African man - who have arrived in the same bland English village at the same time but via different routes in life. They are both there to `lick their wounds'. It is also the story of a country, the `broken Britain' of political rhetoric, a country in transition, trying to adjust to social upheaval, an experience to which it is barely accustomed.
Dorothy has wasted much of her adult life on a loveless marriage and then followed up this failure with two ill-advised affairs, one of which has ended her career. Now, in desolation, she has isolated herself in a smart cul-de-sac in a new development in the town of her birth. Her neighbour, Solomon, is the local handyman who passes the days doing odd jobs and washing his car. Solomon is African, unusual in this particular neighbourhood, and an attribute which makes him both conspicuous and unwelcome. To Dorothy he is a polite and friendly man and a friendship based on mutual respect develops between them. But Solomon is reticent to discuss his past. Not the author, though, as Solomon's story unfolds in all its harrowing detail. This novel reminds us (indigenous Europeans) graphically that many migrants come to Europe from corrupt and lawless lands with the hope of rebuilding shattered lives. As distant relatives (by virtue of being human), the least they can expect is a smile and a greeting.
A Distant Shore is lucidly written, nicely paced and is very sympathetic towards the plight of its suffering protagonists.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful read 5 Nov. 2004
On reading 'a distant shore' by Caryl Philips any inhabitant of England will instantly recognise the country he describes. The reader might also be ashamed, angry or sad. His characters, be they from middle England or from war-torn Africa, are created with great perception and gentleness. The result is a touching and surprisingly gripping work, one where the story is revealed at a perfect pace through the voices of his disparate narrators. His use of time-slicing, so over-used nowadays, is very effective. I would recommend this book to anybody who would like to shine a spotlight on multi-cultural Britain in the 21st century or, more indulgently, anyone who re-reads passages to enjoy rhythmic, sparing prose. I believe this is an important book of it's time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a really good novel 3 Sept. 2011
By kenneth
A really excellent novel - exactingly well written, and perceptively told.
You have this story of the retired teacher and the immigrant village caretake/community driver - told, sometimes in first person and sometimes in third person, from the point of view of each character in turn.
You start with hers - the retired teacher's - but, as becomes gradually clearer, her mental grasp of the situation is beginning to show traces of stress or senility, so we're not quite sure at times what to make of her account of things. But one thing at least is clear: the caretaker ends up dead in the canal at the end of the first part of the book.
Then we shift to a horrendous account - starting in a prison cell and with an extended flashback to Africa, tribal warfare and illegal immigration through Europe to England - of 'Gabriel', who, it finally becomes clear, is the village caretaker 'Solomon' we met in the first part (who has changed his name and his life).
We then get filled in on the background to both the immigrant's and the teacher's previous experiences in England before both ended up in this village - and realize that the seemingly quiet, respectable, reserved characters they were in the first part of the novel hid a distressing, and tragic, past.
The concluding part of the book is again from the teacher's perspective and - rather in the style of one of Alan Bennett's senile 'talking heads' - we glimpse the inner logic, coherence and dignity of a person, while at the same time realizing how the rest of the world would categorize that person as merely 'odd' or 'different'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'who belongs and who's a stranger' 11 Mar. 2012
By sally tarbox TOP 500 REVIEWER
Brilliant novel that seems to start out quite tamely, but through switching to and fro in time, Phillips gradually lets us into more and more of the characters' lives. Dorothy, the retired schoolmistress, is our first narrator, and she seems a prim and proper type (although surprisingly likes going to the pub for a Guinness). Her neighbour, handyman Solomon, is polite and friendly, an African in an otherwise all-white (hostile) village. Two isolated individuals, they form a tentative friendship...
Part one, narrated by Dorothy, tells of their acquaintance to its conclusion. But then in parts 2 and 3, the lives of each, and how they got to that place in time (and got to be the people that they were) are explained.
Controlled prose (bit like the writing of Kazuo Ishiguro), will definitely read more of Phillips' work.
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