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Broken Paperback – 3 Mar 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (3 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007270135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007270132
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.4 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,014,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Amazon Review

About the Author ~ Daniel Clay
Daniel Clay is thirty seven years old and married with no children. He lives in Hampshire in the UK.

Exclusive Amazon.co.uk Interview with Daniel Clay

What is Broken. A Novel about?

Part narrated by Skunk Cunningham, an eleven-year-old girl in a coma, Broken. A Novel tells the intertwining stories of three families who live in a suburban square in the south of England. The Oswalds – Bob and his five daughters – are the neighbors from hell. They lie, steal, cheat, bully and intimidate anyone unlucky enough to be anywhere near them, including Rick Buckley, a geeky but harmless nineteen-year-old boy who lives with his mum and dad on the other side of the square. Humiliated publicly by the Oswalds in the early stages of the novel, Rick descends into madness and becomes the Broken of the title. Skunk, her brother Jed and their new friend Dillon become fascinated with what’s happened to Broken which, in turn, leads to Skunk ending up in the coma from which she narrates the story.

What inspired you to write it?

My starting point were the family structures in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and how much society has changed in the eighty or so years since the events depicted in that novel took place. Once I had that starting point, I wanted to write about life as I saw it at the time I was writing – mad and cruel and random, yet always capable of surprising you, and always somehow worthwhile.

Who are your literary influences?

As a teenager, James Herbert and Stephen King were huge influences because they created characters I believed in and cared about. Since then, I’ve tended to love individual novels rather than particular authors. Orwell’s 1984, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time, and Kem Nunn’s Tapping The Source are all novels I’ve now read several times (and wish I had written).

If you could recommend just one "must-read book" to anyone, what would it be and why?

Clive Barker’s Weaveworld. The same as the Harry Potter series, it has that knack of layering the fantastical over everyday life, but it’s darker and sexier and tinged with more horror as well. A magical read.

What top tips do you have for anyone looking to write their first book?

Write for the thrill of it and write for yourself. Try to surprise yourself. Try to shock yourself. Never try to write something that doesn’t excite you right from the outset. Never try to write what you think an editor or agent wants you to write. Think about how you can grab a reader’s attention and then not let them put your work down. Look at the writers who do this to you and compare their style to your style. Try to understand why they’re different. Try to do something about it. Read as widely as you can. Polish as hard as you can. And, most of all, have fun, enjoy yourself, challenge yourself, and never let the rejections stop you from writing.

Reviews for Broken. A Novel

We are not the only ones to love this book. Check out a selection of reviews below. As you can see a lot of the reviews have been written by our own Amazon customers. These are reviewers from our Amazon Vine programme. Scroll down to the customer review section to see all of the reviews submitted.

Bold, prescient, engaging, and oddly touching. Guardian

A stunning first book … I’d be amazed if it doesn't get short-listed at awards time. Murray, Amazon Vine top reviewer

Daniel Clay has managed to weave a tale that simultaneously highlights some of the more disturbing aspects of contemporary British society whilst capturing some of the sweet innocence of a child’s mind... gripping. H. Pierce, Amazon Vine top reviewer

Reminiscent of Angela's Ashes set in the present day – there is humour and warmth, and a surprisingly upbeat, satisfying ending. I think this is probably the best new fiction I have read in the last year. P. M. Fernandez, Amazon Vine top reviewer

This book grabbed me and I could not put it down… It will make you laugh, cry and gasp with horror. Kehs, Amazon Vine top reviewer

Beautifully written … I couldn't put the book down. It contains humour and is incredibly touching. I will certainly be looking out for Daniel Clay’s next book. Recommended to all. SM, Amazon Vine top reviewer

Review

‘Bold, prescient, engaging, and oddly touching’ Laura Wilson, Guardian

‘This is a novel whose plot and vivid, pared-down imagery bravely patrol the terrifying border at which the human blurs into the bestial and inanimate … Daniel Clay's debut novel is remarkably controlled and disciplined … Clay’s triumph is in exploring the kindness and love that might heal and restore – and what it is to feel fully alive.’ Anita Sethi, Independent

‘It’s funny and sad and moving … and ultimately very engaging.’ Francesca Segal, Observer

‘A moving, intriguing and at times funny debut novel’ Daily Express


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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Hatfield TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are very few books which suck you into a world interwoven with believable characters and seamless plot lines but this is one of them.

If there is a criticism, then I would say that this is one of those books you can't just dip into and out again and pick up where you left off. I did pick at it for the first twenty pages with some difficulty. Then (on a free and sunny day) put aside the time to read it all the way through from the beginning to the end. Then the crescendo of a plot was given free rein to grip my attention to the end. Make time in your life for this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jmmuca on 13 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to honestly say that this is the best book I've read for a long time. Recently I've found myself dropping a lot of books in the middle and never returning. Or completing a book and then thinking - actually that was rubbish. Broken hooked me from the very beginning, it was fast-paced and I read it in one sitting. I couldn't put it down, and I'm left with fond memories of how engrossed I was in it - it really took me away.

I was interested in all the characters, even the Oswalds, who I was made to have sympathy for when I didn't really want to like them at all. Having ran a shop in a council estate for a couple of years I found the story very believable, which would be depressing if it wasn't for Daniel Clay's brilliant comedic portrayal of the authorities.

And that reminds me, this is a very funny book without even trying to be. To insert comedy into such a sad story clearly takes an amount of literary genius. I laughed out loud at a number of points.

If my husband could read I would tell him to read this. Since he can't, I'm really glad they're making a film adaption.

Looking forward to more from Daniel Clay.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 11 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
Skunk Cunningham is an eleven-year-old girl in a coma. She has a loving dad, an absent mother and a brother who plays more X-Box than is good for him. She also has the neighbours from hell: the five Oswald girls and their thuggish father Bob. They are vicious bullies, whose reign of terror extends unchallenged over their otherwise quiet suburban street.
And yet, terrifying though they undoubtedly are, the stiletto-wearing, cider-swilling Oswald girls are also sexy -- so when Saskia asks shy, virginal Rick Buckley for a ride in his new car, he can't believe his luck. Too bad that Saskia can't keep her big mouth shut. When she broadcasts Rick's deficiencies to anyone who will listen, it puts ideas into her younger sister's silly head -- ideas that will see Rick dragged off to prison, humiliated, and ultimately, in his father's words, 'broken' by the experience.

From her hospital bed, Skunk guides us through the events that follow, As we inch ever closer to the mystery behind her coma, Skunk's innocence becomes a beacon by which we navigate a world as comic as it is tragic, and as effortlessly engaging as it is ultimately uplifting, in this brilliant and original debut novel.
8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By O E J TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Daniel Clay's debut novel will attract attention for having a severely dysfunctional and possibly psychotic teenager as a major character. His name is Rick Buckley, a 19 year old boy who is physically beaten by Bob Oswald, the psychopathic father of five daughters, after one of them falsely accuses him of rape. After suffering brutal physical punishment, false arrest and humiliation, his subsequently bizarre behaviour leads to him being nicknamed 'Broken' Buckley. He becomes increasingly disturbed throughout the novel until he spirals totally out of control.

The characterisation is very sharp, the five daughters Sunset, Sunrise, Susan, Saskia and Saraya are mostly rather nasty individuals. But one weakness of the novel is that the police are portrayed as senseless, incompetent, weak and lacking in the most basic detective skills. Ignore that though and you have a story that is funny, touching, tragic and macabre.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pepper #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What would you do if one of your daughters was raped? How far would you go if the boy was never prosecuted? What would you do if your young shy son was accused of rape? How far would you go to protect him from neighbours? What would you do if you were accused of rape, then after humiliating body searches and questions were left to walk home alone, shamed, and then beaten up? How far would you go for someone you loved? This is a powerful story, full of emotive and sometimes small `innocent' actions that made me realise that even small decisions could make a significant difference to love, life and death. Highly recommended, but make sure you put time aside to read it because you'll not be putting the book down once you start it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Lee on 25 April 2008
Format: Paperback
I loved this boook. I never write reviews and felt I had to for this novel. Certainly, it's the best new novel I've read in a while. This book really draws you into the characters and the story runs along at quite a pace. At times it is depressing - the very harsh and realistic picture it paints of the Oswald family makes you realise just how close to the truth these characters are in today's society - but then it also has a lot of humour. You'll laugh and cry (or I nearly did, but I was on the tube so held it togther) and you'll be genuinley horrified at times. A brilliant first novel, certainly hooked me.
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