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Alentejo Blue Hardcover – 5 Jun 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (5 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385604866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385604864
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.8 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,677,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Compelling, atmospheric and elegantly written.' -- Tatler

'If you're looking for an intelligent holiday read, this has it
all.' -- Marie Claire

'Well written and often entertaining .... a perfectly pleasant
read.' -- Daily Telegraph

Book Description

An evocative tale of belonging and exile by one of Britain's best young novelists.

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Customer Reviews

2.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Corrinne Milsom-Mann on 16 Oct. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Having loved Brick Lane I was very eager to read this but it was a huge disappointment - so much so that I don't normally write reviews for Amazon but I am compelled to say "save your money!"

This book comes with a very big "So what?!" It reads like a random collection of short stories which are badly thought out, lacking in plot and with weak characters. There are character links between the stories but they are so shallow and predictable.

Like most books I read, I could not wait to finish this book- but for all the wrong reasons - it is boring and I actually became desperate to get my teeth into something decent and revive my dying brain cells.

As for the insight to the Alentejo region.... it feels like Ms Ali was struggling for an idea for her second book, and so whilst on a two week holiday to the region she came up with the not so bright idea of Alentejo Blue. My cat's water bowl has more depth and her research appears to be nothing more than hiring a villa in the region for a fortnight and walking around blindfolded with ear plugs in.

Sadly, we see this all too often... great first novel plus a two book deal / huge pressure to deliver to the same level equals total flop.

It is no great surprise to say that I won't be recommending this to anyone.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hayles on 24 Jun. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have to admit I only bought this book because I loved Brick Lane so much. I have never been to Portugal so have no idea if these interlinked stories are representative of a way of life. However, I did enjoy it. This is a very different book to Brick Lane - rather than being drawn into a very tightly knit family - here we are given a brief but intense look at many different people all linked by the village they live in (or pass through). There is no logical conclusion to the stories we hear but the lack of a contrived ending only makes each story more believable. They are not written as separate short stories but Ali has shown that her writing skill could be used in this medium. A page turner but a very different experince to Brick Lane.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By purplepadma VINE VOICE on 20 July 2007
Format: Paperback
Alentejo Blue is certainly a work of fiction which runs for just shy of 300 pages - but that isn't enough to make a novel. It's really more like a collection of short stories all set in the same rural Portuguese village. There is occasionally some wonderful use of language in the description, but this fails to make up for the fact that it just doesn't hang together. I can't help feeling that it would have been a more absorbing and satisfying read if more time and attention had been given to fewer characters, rather than skimming the surface and risking stereoptype and characature in the process. Or perhaps the range of characters and perspectives would work if there were a strong plot driving there interactions, but ultimately this is a book about a place where nothing happens. I hope Ali can pull something rather meatier out of the bag for her next offering.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By abegoa on 30 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
At the end of reading this book, and skimming some of the more tedious chapters... something I rarely do... my overall feeling was that I could have invested the time more effectively if I had simply watched something similarly pulse-slowing and disposable on daytime TV. While not barrel-scrapingly bad, the handholds with which one hopes to grasp a work of fiction with serious literary aspirations were all absent: plot, characterisation, sharpness of observation, setting, beauty of prose, originality, wit, humour, detachment, omniscience, strangeness. While there are bursts of well-told naturalism in Alentejo Blue - normal people's lives and thoughts, with the Alentejo village simply a backdrop for characters faced with stunted aspirations and the compromises of cotidian drudge - I can only concur with other reviewers who have peppered their reviews with the word 'boring'.

Verisimilitudinous is perhaps a better word. I don't think I'm alone in seeking a little escapism when reading fiction, particularly when written about an exotic country. The author seemed to have chosen characters based on their lack of resonance, and thus the only reward for the reader is to make one's own life seem almost heroic by comparison. After reading this, a cup of Ovaltine will suddenly take on an adventurous quality. One last practical point: I imagine that two of the main reasons people will buy this book is that (i) they are holidaying in the Alentejo or (ii) living in Portugal. A piece of advice: ditch now any expectation of insight or entertaiment. I know the Alentejo very well, and seeing it through the filter of this book is far from a good introduction. Buy Brick Lane instead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Feb. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Overall, a rather disappointing book, though the writing is quite good and there are particularly good passages/sections throughout. The trouble is that 'Alentejo Blue' is a fragmented novel with no real central narrative drive or plot to pull together the disparate strands. It reads like a collection of linked short stories set in the same Portuguese area.

Each chapter focusses on a different character living or staying in Alentejo. Inevitably with any book of this kind, some characters are more interesting and easy to identify with than others. I found the first two sections particularly hard going and almost stopped reading, although some of the subsequent sections were better.

I've never been to the area so can't comment on accuracy, but I wouldn't say that it was particularly strongly invoked. With a book of this kind, where location is the unifying theme, you would hope to finish reading and feel like you've visited yourself. But I can't say that I really know much more about Alentejo than before, except that it is hot and rural, which I could probably have guessed.

Every time I felt like I was getting to know a character and becoming interested in their story, their section finished and another character was introduced. I felt I had little 'investment' in the book and this meant I wasn't excited about getting home to read it. The one very tenuous linking storyline was the anticipated return of a wealthy local man, but this wasn't much exploited and the ultimate conclusion was flat, dull and disappointing. I found the returnee character extremely unbelivable as well.

I would say that Ali is a good writer in terms of style, and I would try another of her books. But this novel (if you can call it that) lacks the coherency to make it anything more than an OK read.
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