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A Private Place [Kindle Edition]

Amanda Craig
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £10.99
Kindle Price: £7.49 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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Book Description

Knotshead is a school catering for the children of the rich, famous, liberal - and deluded. With its progressive curriculum, complacent staff and beautiful grounds, it looks like Paradise. But the clever, the odd and the bookish are relentlessly persecuted as pupils make their own rules in a bubble of privilege and prejudice. When Alice, the Headmaster's intellectual step-daughter, and the much-expelled American millionaire Winthrop T Sheen join forces against the school bully, Grub Viner, a gifted pianist and school "joker", has to choose between love and loyalty, and black comedy escalates to murder.

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A delicate love story, a touching Bildungsroman for our troubled time. -- Observer, August 1991

Genuinely gripping -- The Spectator September 1991

Ruthless honesty and jet-black wit -- Cosmopolitan September 1991

Viciously clever...will cause distress in liberal circles -- The Independent, September 1991

Book Description

Savagely funny, compelling and a cult classic, A Private Place has struck a chord with generations. It's now available with a new afterword by the author.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 866 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (26 Jan. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00713GC24
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #207,533 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Amanda Craig was born in South Africa in 1959, and brought up in Italy and Britain. After reading English at Clare College Cambridge, she became an award-winning young journalist in the 1980s. She is the author of six novels, Foreign Bodies (1990), A Private Place (1991) A Vicious Circle (1996), In a Dark Wood (2000) and Love In Idleness (2003). Her novels and short stories carry characters on from one book to the next, and her new novel, Hearts and Minds (2009) is a sequel to both A Vicious Circle and Love in Idleness. She lives in London, is a reviewer and broadcaster, and is also the children's book critic for the Times.

You can find out more on, which includes a regular blog on literary matters.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's a shame this is currently out of print because all Craig's novels interlinked, and this is the novel where the Viner family first appear. Set in a progressive co-educational boarding school it's a satire on liberal/ romantic values, as experienced by three pupils. One is the bookish Scottish step-daughter of the Headmaster, Alice. She is persecuted by Grub Viner, an aspiring pianist, and side-kick to the school bully Jono Tore. Arriving to challenge Tore is Winthrop T Sheen, a disgraced American Preppy who succeeds where Tore has failed in seducing Alice. The three of them eventually bring about the collapse of the school. There are echoes of real-life scandals here( such as the closure of Dartington)but what really grips are the descriptions of the power-struggles between pupils, to which the well-meaning staff are blind. A bitingly funny and gripping novel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Progressive Does Not Mean Happy 4 July 2011
By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A sometimes hilarious, sometimes very moving account of life in a progressive school. Intellectual Alice, the orphaned sister-in-law of the headmaster, is bullied by her often filthy-rich, rebellious classmates. When 'spoilt-brat' American millionaire's son Winthrop T. Sheen arrives at the school, he to his surprise also gets bullied, and forms an unexpected alliance with Alice. Meanwhile Denis 'Grub' Viner, a gifted pianist and the 'joker' of his year, also finds himself gradually attracted to Alice, at the same time being led by his friend Johnny Tore into bullying both her and Winthrop. Loosely based on the myths of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur and of Ariadne and Dionysus, this is compulsive reading. I particularly liked the way that Craig depicted how friendships and romances form in an enclosed environment like a boarding school, and her portrayals of needy, brilliant, Classics-loving Alice and of Grub, with his passion for music and his gradual understanding that being popular isn't as important as he's always believed. And Winthrop, the over-confident American, was a brilliant creation - both obnoxious and at times oddly sympathetic. I also liked Craig's final explanation of why Johnny Tore was such a bully. The descriptions of day-to-day life in a progressive school had me laughing out loud. And there are plenty of coups-de-theatre in the last section of the book!

I hope Craig brings back Grub and Alice in one of her future novels (they are mentioned in several of her other books, but don't feature much) - I want to find out more about what happened to them after they left the school!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, gripping, witty and terrifying 11 Aug. 2009
By Sophie Masson VINE VOICE
This is an extraordinarily well-written, gripping novel, meticulously observed, mordantly witty, savagely angry and yet compassionate, all at one and the same time! It is a briliant dissection of school life and its big and little cruelties as well as its small pleasures. But it's also a compelling drama of love, hatred, the getting of wisdom and the closing-off of some minds. Amanda Craig is in my opinion one of the most brilliant novelists writing in Britain today, and all her books should be in print!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Craig's clever and disturbing second novel, out of print too long, is a welcome reissue on Kindle, offering as it does a glimpse into the rituals and rivalries of a closed world - that of Knotshead, a 'progressive' public school. Even those without first-hand experience of such an institution may recognize, in this account of the splendours and miseries of adolescence, aspects of their own growing-up... For here, sharply delineated, are some all-too familiar types: the likable but easily influenced Grub, who colludes in the bullying of others - notably the intellectually precocious Alice - because it is a safer option than being one of the bullied. Presiding over this reign of terror is the dangerously unstable Jono, neglected son of a famous rock-star, who takes out his resentment on those least able to defend themselves. The casual racism, anti-semitism and misogyny which characterizes these persecutions of fellow pupils deemed to be 'Rejects' is authentically chilling; although there are flashes of humour, when those being picked upon find themselves in a position to exact revenge. For Alice, increasingly isolated by her perceived 'swottishness', the chance to get her own back comes, not through intellectual effort, but because she is singled out for the amorous attentions of another 'Reject', the rich and good-looking American, Winthrop. What follows is a funny and occasionally very dark coming-of-age story, which is also an indictment, one cannot help but feel, of a certain type of laissez-faire liberal education.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scathing satire 24 Feb. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Trendy, West Country public school Knotshead is a place where the rich and the famous send their children to be educated. Struggling under the management of an ineffectual headmaster the establishment lurches between crises and scandals.

When Alice (swotty sister-in-law of the headmaster)and Winthrop (much expelled son of an American billionaire) form an unlikely alliance against the school bully (rock star's son Johnny Tore), the ultimate result is tragedy. But along the way there's plenty of dark humour and a rich cast of characters. Perhaps a few too many characters where the staff are concerned as it was sometimes hard to keep track.

At its heart this book is a scathing satire on progressive education - guaranteed to have Guardian readers spluttering indignantly into their fair trade coffee. Nonetheless it has a high entertainment value and keeps you turning the pages, vividly capturing the conflicting forces and random cruelties of school life.

The Kindle edition has a few too many errors for my liking which is disappointing in a book from a relatively big name author.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars It was an Ok read nothing spectacular and all a ...
It was an Ok read nothing spectacular and all a bit too predictable. Lots of stereotypes and not the most interesting of reads.
Published 2 months ago by blueted
5.0 out of 5 stars more realistic than you might imagine
This is a very interesting read. I have alighted on it whilst vaguely researching the history of so called 'progressive' private schools, particularly the progressive plight and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by discerning shopper
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Not for me...
Published 10 months ago by Bramble living
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book
A Private Place is a brilliantly written, clever and, at times, funny book which had me gripped from the start. Read more
Published 16 months ago by JCdeRN
4.0 out of 5 stars A page-turner
Essentially a satire on the liberal boarding schools, I suspect, one in particular, of recent history, the book was well written and engaging such that I finished it in two... Read more
Published on 2 Aug. 2013 by Eckythump
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite an education.
Knotshead is a truly ghastly progressive private school, somewhat different from my secondary mod. in a northern industrial town, and I found it fascinating, upsetting and... Read more
Published on 21 May 2013 by P. Ashley
4.0 out of 5 stars Savage but entertaining
A savage portrayal of a fictional public school in which the normal lines of authority are abrogated. Read more
Published on 20 Oct. 2012 by James Brydon
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant evocation of the tyranny and trauma of school
It's hard to believe this novel was written 20 years ago. It remains fresh and relevant today as it was then. Read more
Published on 3 Oct. 2012 by Woodhead
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and intelligent
Like all the best coming-of-age novels A Private Place asks some profound questions about society as a whole. What are rules for? Read more
Published on 17 April 2012 by Patricia Ferguson
4.0 out of 5 stars Striking satirical novel about perils of boarding school
Craig's second novel has become a cult classic (and as rare as hen's teeth on the second-hand market). Read more
Published on 8 Aug. 2011 by John Little
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