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Becoming Strangers Paperback – 3 Jan 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; New edition edition (3 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743240006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743240000
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 436,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Louise Dean was born in Hastings in June 1970 and went via grammar school to Cambridge University to read History. Three continents, three books, three children, two husbands and one defunct Manhattan ad agency later, she returned to the UK in 2007 to settle down and write, at last, a book set in England. Known for her dark comedies, winner of Society of Authors Trask Prize 2004, and various others, long listed for the Man Booker and IMPAC she teaches for Arvon on occasion. Her fourth book 'The Old Romantic' will be published by Penguin in August 2010.

Product Description

Review

'Dean has a deliciously lucid and seemingly effortless style...An exceptionally enjoyable book' -- Daily Mail

'I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. In the end, I was so uplifted, I did both' -- Julie Myerson

'The best book in its genre that I have read in a long time' -- Jenni Murray, Woman's Hour

From the Inside Flap

Jan has been dying for six years, bringing his unhappy marriage with Annemieke to an end in middle age. Their sons have given them one last gift, a holiday in the Caribbean.

Dorothy and George have also been given a holiday, by their granddaughter - their first and probably last trip overseas. They are reluctant to leave the rain and routine of Bexhill-on-Sea, but the tickets are booked.

In pristine surroundings, the two couples are unable to escape their troubles, until a few chance events - a disappearance, an assault and a man called Bill Moloney - allow them to make something out of the ashes of their love.

This is a different love story - about how there's seldom a 'happily ever after', but sometimes a chance to redeem a life half-lived. It introduces Louise Dean as a remarkably insightful and compassionate writer, whose moving and startlingly funny prose can make us see our lives afresh. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. G. Parker on 4 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
I can honestly say this novel fell short for me. The general story is based around two older couples, both of which have been married for a long time; both of which are taking their last holiday for different reasons. Whilst there were some interesting ideas in this story, I generally found I couldn't get into the characters enough. I did manage to read it to the end but several times I was tempted to give up. The story isnt overly enthralling and the characters arent explored enough for them to compensate the lack of story. Overall I found it a rather depressing read. However that said I do believe the author may have better material inside her somewhere.
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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 17 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Jan, a Belgian businessman who is dying of cancer, and his wife, Annemeike, are taking a Caribbean holiday, arranged by their two grown sons. There they meet George and Dorothy, an elderly English couple, Bill a corpulent Irishman, Jason and Missy, an American husband and wife, a beautiful Chinese girl named Laurie, and young workman, Adam, who has been hired to finish off tiling work to the hotel's annexe. We also meet the hotel manager, Burns, a man with a mission who quickly falls foul of the American party's arrogance and perfectionism.

Then Dorothy, who is suffering from the beginnings of Alzheimer 's disease, goes for a walk outside the Hotel complex and it is Adam and Jan who take George off in search of his lost wife. As the holiday progresses, the members of the cast meet up in various combinations and betray each other or form friendships and antagonisms - the plot is intricate and very engaging.

Most often, events are seen from Jan's perspective - he is a quiet, self-deprecating, slightly buttoned-up fifty-year-old, but with a mind and a heart that are open and accepting.

I loved this novel and read it through without a break. It is mature, moving and beautifully judged and the humour is gentle, but not without a certain wicked edge. Characterisation is faultless throughout and the writing is plain and adroit.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eric Anderson on 13 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
Louise Dean's first novel focuses on the stories of two couples who travel to a holiday resort in the Caribbean as a treat from their children. None of the four individuals particularly want to go on this holiday, but they feel obligated to because both couples realise that it might be the last one that they have together. Both couples are struggling to deal with illness. A middle-aged Belgian couple named Annemieke and Jan go on this holiday with the knowledge that Jan is suffering from a terminal cancer. The older English couple named George and Dorothy realise that Dorothy is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease. Despite the depressing idea of couples going on a final holiday while facing their own mortality may seem terribly depressing, Dean is able to suffuse the narrative with comic touches that gives it a great deal of humanity and makes it a rewarding, moving read.

This thirty-four year old writer has unusual insight into the complex way a long term marriage can develop a significance beyond the mere routines which come with the bonding of two people. In some ways the individual identity of each person becomes lost because the memories from each of their lives are inextricably linked to this other person. What the characters in this novel are struggling to decide is if they will lose their own sense of themselves if they leave their partner. George tries to meticulously record his past by writing a memoir and Annemieke attempts to completely rediscover a self worth in anonymous sexual encounters. Dean's writing is incredibly enjoyable to read in its richly detailed short chapters and startlingly emotional scenes. At the same time it is able to explore some very complex ideas about the nature of relationships and personality in original, meaningful ways. This is a unique and beautiful first novel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eric Anderson on 30 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
Louise Dean's first novel focuses on the stories of two couples who travel to a holiday resort in the Caribbean as a treat from their children. None of the four individuals particularly want to go on this holiday, but they feel obligated to because both couples realise that it might be the last one that they have together. Both couples are struggling to deal with illness. A middle-aged Belgian couple named Annemieke and Jan go on this holiday with the knowledge that Jan is suffering from a terminal cancer. The older English couple named George and Dorothy realise that Dorothy is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease. Despite the depressing idea of couples going on a final holiday while facing their own mortality may seem terribly depressing, Dean is able to suffuse the narrative with comic touches that gives it a great deal of humanity and makes it a rewarding, moving read.
This thirty-four year old writer has unusual insight into the complex way a long term marriage can develop a significance beyond the mere routines which come with the bonding of two people. In some ways the individual identity of each person becomes lost because the memories from each of their lives are inextricably linked to this other person. What the characters in this novel are struggling to decide is if they will lose their own sense of themselves if they leave their partner. George tries to meticulously record his past by writing a memoir and Annemieke attempts to completely rediscover a self worth in anonymous sexual encounters. Dean's writing is incredibly enjoyable to read in its richly detailed short chapters and startlingly emotional scenes. At the same time it is able to explore some very complex ideas about the nature of relationships and personality in original, meaningful ways. This is a unique and beautiful first novel.
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