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Asunder [Kindle Edition]

Chloe Aridjis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

Marie’s job as a museum guard at the National Gallery in London offers her the life she always wanted, one of invisibility and quiet contemplation. But amid the hushed corridors surge currents of history and violence, paintings whose power belie their own fragility. There also lingers the legacy of her great-grandfather Ted, the warder who slipped and fell moments before reaching the suffragette Mary Richardson as she took a blade to one of the gallery’s masterpieces on the eve of the First World War.

After nine years there, Marie begins to feel the tug of restlessness. A decisive change comes in the form of a winter trip to Paris, where, with the arrival of an uninvited guest and an unexpected encounter, her carefully contained world is torn apart.

Product Description


"I loved Chloe Aridjis's Book of Clouds so it was exciting to read her new novel, Asunder, which, in a story about art, guardianship, damage and philosophy, revealed again the deftness and depth of narrative understanding of this subtle and courageous writer." (Ali Smith New Statesman)

"Exhilarating… The novel wonderfully disobeys all conventional rules of realism and plotting, of show-don't-tell. Powerful and artful, Asunder works like a poem, pulling us into a labyrinthine sequence of connected images. By the end, it seems like an abstract painting, apparently defying narrative time. This all makes for rapturous and enraptured reading." (Michele Roberts Independent)

"Strange, extravagant, darkly absorbing… This is a book about quietness and violence. There is a Nabokovian rhythm in Asunder's obsessive permutations, and in the novel's dance of fluttering life and slow decay. Her novel thrills with energy because of it." (Alexandra Harris Guardian)

"Chloe Aridjis is crafting a poetics of the strange. To describe her novels as inconsequential is not to deny them substance, but to highlight their shadowy randomness, their pearlescent impressionism and the way in which they work by hints and cross-references... this is deft and shimmering fiction." (Kate McLoughlin Times Literary Supplement)

"Aridjis has risen to the occasion with Asunder. Given that Asunder lacks a conventional plot, the fact that it is such an absorbing and moving book says much about Aridjis's skill as a writer. Her unusual imagery and lyrical style breathe life into this otherwise sombre story." (Financial Times)

Book Description

Rich, strange and beguiling, the much-anticipated second novel from Book of Clouds author, Chloe Aridjis

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1631 KB
  • Print Length: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (2 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #134,963 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and richly imaginative 1 May 2013
I read this in one sitting and was really taken with it. As in her first novel, Chloe Aridjis has created a strange and unsettling world, full of enigmatic characters and lots of echoes and doubling. This is quite a haunting book, especially the passages about the suffragettes, which are really powerful, and the scenes in the National Gallery, which from now on will be a more mysterious place to me, but I also found a lot of dark humour and wit. And just when you think things have more or less settled into place, the narrative takes some pretty surprising turns. Asunder is a stranger and bolder work than Book of Clouds, but with the same kind of magic.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting 2 Jun. 2013
By ACB(swansea) TOP 50 REVIEWER
Chloe Aridjis has written a curiously engaging novel. Marie is a security guard at the National Gallery and narrates the story. Her job fits her desire for a quiet introspective, ordered workaday life. 'Ambition has never been high on the list, nor marriage or adventure', she says. Yet she observes the artwork of the masters reflecting the inevitable passage of time in the form of cracks in the paintings. Not much has happened in the 9 years of her employment. An old colleague dies at the beginning of one of her duty periods. She tenderly recalls the memories of her beloved great-grandfather, also a guard at the National Gallery, whose attempts at preventing the suffragette Mary Richardson slashing the Rockeby Venus with a meat cleaver failed. The fragility and vulnerability of these works of art find Marie in her flat decorating egg shells and embossing moths in miniature landscapes, forming her own museum.

There is a darkly unstable wit in her enigmatic relationships with her friends, notably flatmate Jane and the bohemian poet Daniel who is a guard at the Tate Gallery. His poetry is unpublished by choice, a rebellious act or maybe fear of failure and acceptance. Marie's routine destabilises and she embarks on journeys including a trip to Paris with bizarre motives and strange results. Her loner life-style belies an underlying ability to be self-confident and independent with a strong sense of determination. Stories about herself and anecdotes are vignettes that are hold together and the novel is all the better for it. The prose is exemplary and makes for an enjoyable and interesting read. Thought-provoking even after finishing the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and Quietly Fascinating 27 Jun. 2013
The narrator of Chloe Aridjis's unusual new novel is Marie, a museum guard at the National Gallery, who spends her days quietly watching the visitors viewing the paintings, ready to step in should she see anyone acting suspiciously or perhaps moving too close to the works of art. But Marie does not just watch; she listens. Marie considers herself an expert in the sounds produced by different types of shoes on wooden floorboards; clogs, she tells us are the loudest; cork sandals the quietest, and boots produce a muffled crunch, like dog paws on snow. Marie also listens carefully to the museum's art restorer when she enters the room with her students, and explains to them about 'craquelure', the primary and secondary age cracks that appear on the surface of old works of art: "Forged craquelure is arbitrary, monotonous and pedantic ...natural craquelure throbs with rich variety."

When her working day is finished, Marie goes home to the flat she shares with friend Jane, and makes miniature installations of landscapes made from eggshells and from the dead moths which have invaded her flat. As Marie ponders on her life, we hear about her great grandfather Ted, who was a guard at the National Gallery in 1914, when a suffragette attacked Velasquez's 'Rokeby Venus' with a meat cleaver - a story with which Marie is fascinated and returns to throughout her narrative. Drifting through her days and through the streets of London, Marie leads a life which is lived mostly through the thoughts swirling around in her mind. A visit to Camden Market with her flatmate Jane, results in disappointment when she realizes how much the market has changed from when she lived in Camden High Street, sharing a flat with Lucian, a handsome Goth, for whom she suffered pangs of unrequited love.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully crafted, intense and clever 15 July 2013
I found this a wonderful read for different reasons.

The subject of this book is most timely - i had never considered how slashing art could be so interesting - it doesn't hurt anyone and yet is so violent.
I also thought the language was beautifully crafted - you feel how each word has been placed. It is often very a poetical study of the human condition.
An unexpected, intense and clever novel. It deserves a long life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising and poetic 27 Jun. 2013
By Carov
Wonderful novel, poetical and beautifully bizarre - it can take your mind away to make you experience different perspectives - highly recommended
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER
This unusual novel roams wide within what feels like a small, still space. Working as a museum guard, the narrator Marie has stood sentry at London's National Gallery for many years. Though to outsiders her job may seem monotonous, Marie takes it very seriously, absorbing not only the minutiae of the paintings but also the details of the visitors who come to gaze at them.

Chloe Aridjis writes with an unselfconscious but disquieting sensitivity, hard to explain, and the author is clearly every bit as patient as her narrator whose hobby is creating miniature landscapes within hollowed out eggs. I can't pretend to have understood quite all the elements of Ms Aridjis' story but found the digressions on 'craquelure' (the aging of oil paintings) and aspects of the suffragette movement really quite fascinating in their own right as well as metaphorically. I feel that this slow-burn of a book will reward the reader who looks for something 'other' in novels.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars escape into life
I loved this low-key story which almost swims through dingy places, through inconclusive encounters, and surprises us by shaking off the layers of dust and nostalgia, and finally... Read more
Published 3 months ago by G Orleans-Borbon
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
absolutely brilliant
Published 8 months ago by Viktor Wynd
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
really good book, great quality and fast delivery
Published 9 months ago by Jackie Ramsey
4.0 out of 5 stars An Eggshell of a Promise
Chloe Aridjis is a Scheherazade!

After a leisurely beginning, her polished prose kept me reading. Read more
Published 21 months ago by F. S. L'hoir
3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of research
This is not a bad book but is spoilt by poor research. I bought this book as its based on a Warder or Gallery Assistant at the National Gallery in London. Read more
Published 21 months ago by J. R. Connor
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected much but disappointed
Attracted by the storyline and setting but found characters unbelievable and story irksome. I know the National Gallery well but the author did not bring it to life for me. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Jane Sellars
5.0 out of 5 stars close to perfection
Marie, the narrator of this story, is a museum guard at the London National Gallery. She tries to be discreet around, silently pacing the halls. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Ray Garraty
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling
I enjoyed enormously Ms. Aridjis's new novel. I read a few years ago the book of clouds and loved it. Asunder takes the narrative to another level in Asunder. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Pablo
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