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Alison Wonderland

Alison Wonderland [Kindle Edition]

Helen Smith
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £6.99
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Product Description

Amazon Review

Helen Smith's "Alison Wonderland" already has a strange life--what with her psychic postman--but when she becomes a private detective things get even more bizarre when she meets a man who loves a shig, "the fattest, woolliest animal on earth, the product of a union between a pig and a sheep". Being an investigator isn't all glamour and Alison often has to struggle to hold on to the difference between working in a boring job and being a detective working in a boring job. But at least it's not just the expected, run of the mill sleaze, double-crossing and corruption; there's also secret crayfish fishermen, lemon sweets and, of course, the shig. It's this mammoth animal that lies at the heart of Project Brown Dog--an investigation that Alison leads to uncover sinister animal eugenics being orchestrated in the name of commerce by a company in Weymouth.

This is the case that lends Alison Wonderland narrative drive, although Helen Smith's tentative, exploratory style sits uncomfortably within the adventure story set-up. Smith's strength comes to the fore when she's drifting, observing the incidentals of life; "the comforting smells like dog's paws when they wake up from a long sleep" and the rustling of voracious Japanese knotweed as it invades the pavements of Brixton. There's even an intricate Venn diagram sketched to ponder the sagging skin and drooping breasts on show at Tooting Bec Lido. It's this clean, seemingly effortless voice that gives Alison Wonderland an impressive edge and will make her second novel one worth watching out for. --Jane Honey


Only occasionally does a piece of fiction leap out and demand immediate cult status. Alison Wonderland is one... Smith is at the very least a minor phenomenon. The Times

Made me sigh and throw it to the floor in a fit of envious pique. Julie Burchill, Guardian

Smith is gin-and-tonic funny. Booklist

This is a story that can be devoured whole or nibbled in small bites, but is guaranteed to brighten your day. Morning Star

A fantastical Thelma and Louise meets Agatha Christie adventure story. The dialogue is smart and the deadpan humour is perfectly judged. The List

I loved it. She's a very funny writer indeed, in a pleasingly deadpan way, and her heroine's misadventures have the comicality, the freshness and the bizarre excitements of a TinTin story for grown-ups. Jeremy Lewis, Editor, The Literary Review.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 390 KB
  • Print Length: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (16 Aug 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004KA9TTE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,311 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Helen Smith is a novelist and playwright who lives in London. Her books have reached number one on Amazon's bestseller lists in the US, UK, Canada and Germany. They have been praised in The Times, The Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, Time Out and and appeared on "best of the year" lists in For Books' Sake, The Cult Den, The Independent and the Guardian. Her books have been optioned by the BBC.

Helen Smith travelled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both - from cleaning motels to working as a magician's assistant - before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel. Since then, she has read at literary events and festivals in London and New York and points in between - including, most recently, a cruise ship en route to California via the Suez Canal. Her work has been read or performed at the National Theatre, The Royal Festival Hall, the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, Amnesty International's Headquarters, The Edinburgh Festival and The University of London. She's a Literary Death Match champion and the recipient of an Arts Council of England award.

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Helen Smith is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, The Crime Writers' Association and English PEN.

"Smith is gin-and-tonic funny." Booklist

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By Suzy
Format:Kindle Edition
It's not often you come across a book that is enjoyable on so many levels. I was immediately drawn into the story of Alison and her world. I tried to read it slowly in order to simply enjoy the wonderful, quirky writing. But-a word of warning: if you are expecting a romantic detective story in the chic-lit genre, this book is not for you. If you do, however, appreciate good writing, unusual plot twists and a story with a dream-like quality, this book will delight and entertain you. The tongue-in-cheek satiric element made me laugh out loud many times. I'm not sure what genre this books fits into but anyone who reads it is in for a treat. It's encouraging to see that unusual books such as this one attracts the attention of a publisher

Helen Smith is a wonderful writer and I hope to read more of her work very soon.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comedy and more 23 Aug 2011
By AliB
Format:Kindle Edition
The genre is difficult to define - with elements of mystery, detective and a touch of farce, this is a book that's light in the sense of entertaining (as all books should be) but not so light as to be frothy and inconsequential. Helen Smith's writing is spare (which I prefer) but also full of sharp observations of character and of life. The various sub-plots keep everything rolling along nicely but my main interest was in the heroine Alison, curiously adrift in her own life, and in how her journey would unfold. I particularly liked Taron, a quirky side-kick who helps Alison to self-understanding. I was a little dissatisfied with potential romantic interest which did not seem to contribute much to anything - but perhaps that was the point. All in all a quirky and entertaining read with lots of comic moments. I'll be looking out for more books from this writer.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The surprising and the unexpected 4 Oct 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I'm not sure if I would have picked up this book if I had been at the bookstore. I wasn't too thrilled about the cover, but the blurb was intriguing, and it was described as a modern take on the Alice in Wonderland storyline, so I thought, why not give it a go?
And boy, am I glad I did! This is one of the most amazing books I have read lately. Taken by itself, there's nothing spectacular about any aspect of this book on its own - but taken together, as a big whole, you're in for an experience.

My first impression when I started reading this book is that this is serious chick-lit (and no, that is not an oxymoron! And that's why the cover didn't sit well with me - this book could do with a lighter, quirkier, chick-lit cover!) Chick-lit can be light, funny, but serious as well and provoke questions inside your brain - exactly what Ms. Smith accomplishes with Alison Wonderland. The book is described as literature - it is, but at the same time, it's not dry, stuff-it-down-your-throat British literature. Let's just say it's a cross between the lightness of Jane Austen, the humour of Janet Evanovich reminiscent of the Stephanie Plum novels but with a dry, totally British twist that makes you chuckle loudly instead of bursting into laughter, all amid a world of suspended fantasy.

Let's see if we can elaborate on that description. The book and its plot is light - no saving the Third World or big reflections of the kind here. And the humour - British wit at its best. Anyone who loves British humour will dig this story (and there's talks of Alison Wonderland being made into a TV series - I say 'bring it on'! I can totally see this as a typically Brit TV show in the style of Being Human).

As to the suspended fantasy...
Read more ›
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blindsided by Laughter 3 Dec 2010
By BigAl
Format:Kindle Edition
Private detective Alison Temple works for an all women detective agency. Most of her cases require getting the goods on philandering husbands. Neither fun nor exciting, but maybe a way for a little revenge by proxy against her ex. Then there's the big case she works for most of this book. But really, none of that matters. This isn't a detective story. It's something else. And I'm not sure what that is. It's a little suspense. It's a mid-life coming-of-age story as Alison moves between two distinct life phases. Last, maybe most importantly, it's funny. Not exactly comedy. Not really satire or parody. Yet it has some of each.

Smith's strongest writing talents are in characterization, bringing her quirky characters to life, and description, painting an easily visualized picture of each scene. Her subtle, yet wicked wit sneaks up and blindsides you with laughter. Fall down the rabbit hole and see for yourself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like it... 9 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sadly I just kept waiting for the book to get going. I loved the premise, and the sample I downloaded but I felt the book never really got going and that I was irritated by the characters, none of whom appeared to develop.

Maybe it's me, but it didn't work for me at all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre but amusing 9 Oct 2013
By rachy12
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I’ve got a few chapters to go but from what I’ve read (however confusing it has been at times) has been well written, engaging and pretty funny. Chapters jumps from one obscure character to the other so you have to be prepared to be introduced to someone new all of a sudden and be launched in to every detail of their private lives and persona however unnecessary and unsettling! Some of the events made me think of Tom Sharpe’s novels (a few times I laughed out loud) and to be honest the characters apart from Alison herself and her boss, are about as believable. I am still at a loss as to how Alison could be so taken with her friend who she admits, makes up everything that comes out of her mouth as she lives in a drug-fuelled make believe world of her own. The trying to rescue lost babies story line was a bit much as well.
I chose this novel because it sounded intriguing and I like a bit of the unreal/magical mixed in with a good mystery. The cover picture reflected this too.
I would recommend this to readers who want a well written, short, slightly off the wall detective story with a few wacky characters thrown in to the mix.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
A little odd, but interesting. Quirky!
Published 1 month ago by Bella-talk
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read. Good story.
Great read. Good story.
Published 2 months ago by Lesley Winfield
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing
Expected more from other reviews I'd read but felt book was a bit of a let down, especially the ending, which just dwindled out.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst book I've read in the past year
I truly wanted to like it. The first 1/4 was okay but like others said- pointless. Unfortunately I can't not finish a book, so I wish I had never started.
Published 6 months ago by Julie
2.0 out of 5 stars Deeply disappionted
Bought it on a whim because of the name. Wasted good reading time on it. just cannot be enthusiastic about it.
Published 7 months ago by P R Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable book
This is an easy read. A great book for bedtime - if you can put it down. I will look for other books by this author.
Published 7 months ago by P
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun and enjoyable
The overall style of the book is very easy to read and is something that doesn't require effort to read and enjoy. Read more
Published 8 months ago by drangelmedicinewoman
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Surreal Novel
I have to admit that going into this book I expected more of a lighthearted chick-lit sort of story. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Christine W.
4.0 out of 5 stars Crazy Fun
A genuinely funny laugh out loud read. A bizarre and occasionally dark tale that is incredibly well written - characters that are nuts but still oddly believable. Read more
Published 11 months ago by V. Doherty
4.0 out of 5 stars a nice surprise
Always judge a book by the cover I say, well not always. I tend to judge a book by the title actually - hopefully that's something the author has control of. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Stuart Harrison
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