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Burley Cross Postbox Theft Hardcover – 29 Apr 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (29 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007355009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007355006
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.8 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 587,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nicola Barker's eight previous novels include 'Darkmans' (short-listed for the 2007 Booker and Ondaatje prizes, and winner of the Hawthornden), 'Wide Open' (winner of the 2000 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award) and 'Clear' (long-listed for the Booker Prize in 2004). She has also written two prize-winning collections of short-stories, and her work has been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in east London. Her latest novel, 'The Yips', was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012.

Product Description

Review

Reviews for Darkmans:

'This is the work of a very fine storyteller indeed.' The Times

'The writing is often hilarious. Barker carves up the suburban dinner party savagely, and anatomises the dodgiest builder on Earth…Nicola Barker's writing is hugely attractive, because it conjures images and ideas from a tremendous wealth of inspiration. It is the product of a powerful, sprawling imagination.' Daily Telegraph

'A loud shout of glorious, untidy, angry, joyous life. Barker is a great, restless novelist, and "Darkmans" is a great, restless novel. At the end of 838 blinding, high-octane pages, I was bereft that there weren't 838 more.' Guardian

‘When a new novel by Nicola Barker arrives, there is a host of reasons to break into a smile. Chief among them is that she is one of the most exhilarating, audacious and, for want of a better word, ballsy writers of her generation. And, in a publishing terrain that often inhibits ambition and promotes homogeneity, there is nobody writing quite like her.' Observer

'A visionary epic.' Sam Leith, in the Spectator 'Books of the Year'

'Darkmans is all about the ebullience of language, the erruption of the past into the present, the seriousness and darkness of jokes. It defies moderation because it celebrates misrule. Highly original and interesting, and doing it with conviction and sharp humour. I know I whipped through its more than 800 pages with attention unbroken. And I know that the very night I finished it, it showed up in my dreams. Seriously.' Literary Review

‘Barker's delightfully Skewed perspective on this world is laugh–out–loud funny' Marie Claire

‘Her creation is a mix of modern–day Cranford with the League of Gentlemen's Royston Vasey…If the reader is willing to suspend disbelief, however, they should find ample reward in Barker's wit and linguistic flair' Rosamund Urwin, Evening Standard

About the Author

Nicola Barker was born in Ely in 1966 and spent part of her childhood in South Africa. She lives and works in east London. She was the winner of the David Higham Prize for Fiction and joint winner of the Macmillan Silver Pen Award for Love Your Enemies, her first collection of stories (1993). Her first novel Reversed Forecast was published in 1994 and a short novel Small Holdings followed in 1995. A second collection of short stories Heading Inland, for which Nicola received an Arts Council Writers’ Award, and received the 1997 John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize. Her story ‘Symbiosis’ was filmed and broadcast on BBC2; another story, ‘Dual Balls’, was commissioned for broadcast on Channel 4 and shortlisted for a BAFTA Award. Her third novel Wide Open was published in 1998, and won the English-speaking world’s biggest literary award for a single work, the IMPAC Prize. In 2000 she published another short novel, Five Miles from Outer Hope. Her fifth novel, Behindlings, was published in 2002 and the following novel, Clear, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004. Darkmans, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2007, the 2008 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Award and won the Hawthornden Prize for 2008. Most recently, Barker's work THE YIPS has been longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2012. She was named as one of the 20 Best Young British Novelists by Granta in 2005. Her work has been translated into over a dozen languages.


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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 April 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I rather like the epistolary form for novels so I was looking forward to reading this but I was a little disappointed with it. A post box in the little Yorkshire village of Burley Cross is broken into and the letters dumped in a back alley in nearby Skipton. The police are puzzled. The whole package of letters - 26 in all - is forwarded to P C Roger Topping at Ilkley - whose beat it is - to see if he can unravel who broke into the post box and why.

The first letter almost put me off the book as it was very long and mainly about people taking their dogs for a walk on the moors and not clearing up after them - not one of my favourite subjects. But the book improved and many of the Burley Cross residents are revealed through their letters.

There are eccentricities and secrets, apologies, complaints and plans for the future. Light is shed on some puzzling incidents from the recent and not so recent past and at least some of the letters would have been better not read by the police. My particular favourite was Seb's description of the Auction of Promises and how all the promises turned out when performed and I laughed out loud over some of that one.

The book is undoubtedly well written and very clever and I did enjoy reading it though I could have done without the transcript of the tape made when an individual was sitting on the toilet - complete with sound effects. Some of the letters were perhaps a little long but others were really good and just the right length. They could be read in any order as long as the last few letters from Roger Topping are read after the rest as they contain his solution of the crime.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. R. on 21 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Nicola Barker has written a book about letters, who stole them and how PC Roger Topping finds out. It's one of those novels whose story is told entirely in letters too. This one is different in that all the writers are incredibly irritating, daft, pompous, verbose, gossipy, selfish, opinionated, annoying and usually a combination of at least two of those. Barker impersonates these characters outstandingly well, defining their voices to a tee, so that you could be reading the real thing. The tone of each letter is crafted to perfection.
The problem is that in real life, you'd do anything to avoid reading these things. The policeman originally investigating the problem was driven to distraction by having to deal with this bunch of people and their missing correspondence. Barker's letters are written in the styles of irritating people, so they end up being intensely irritating themselves. Even the characters who are reasonably pleasant are too dim to write well; Barker impersonates them so closely that I found her own work intolerable to read. It's a fine piece of perfectly formed comedy caricature writing, and I hope that she produces something soon about people who aren't so god awful that you just don't care what happens to their stupid post box.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian Hamilton TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 April 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
On ocassion this book had me tearing my hair out in frustration. Other times I could not put it down.

The concept is intriguing, the theft of a post box from a village that appears, on the surface, to be a template for English manners and reserve.

However, we are given the contents of postbox to digest.

Each letter printed deals with various aspects of village life and there are some laugh out loud moments.

However, the author scores an own goal of sorts as some of the letters are so long winded (and with footnotes) that it seemed to run out of steam. When the letters themselves apologise for being so long and tangent-wandering it is difficult to retain a sense of enthusiasm.

That said, there is some gold in here and it is worth a read just to get a feel for the characters and atmosphere, most of which is of a very good standard.

Hard going in places but worth the effort.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Simz on 30 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a great, great read. I dont normally do "funny" books but gave this a go and found it clever, hilarious, in parts moving, just perfection...

Great characters, very clever unfolding of interlinking stories and wonderful, fresh writing. The voices in the letters were so convinincing, I just didnt want it to end.

I'll be trying some more Nicola Barker very soon.
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By D. Elliott TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With no inkling of why the postbox theft was committed, and after lengthy introduction by Police, `Burley Cross Postbox Theft' continues as a seemingly disjointed series of letters. The concept of `Burley Cross Postbox Theft' is brilliant, but for a method of communication the voluminous and convoluted nature of letters demands suspension of belief, and with episodic interjections the story is inevitably contrived. At one level this is a detective novel to solve a crime, yet at another level it presents a caricature of gossipy, backbiting village life. However the stolen letters reveal so much more, written by bizarre and eccentric characters encompassing the good, the bad and the ugly, with different characteristics as pompous, opinionated, belligerent and caustic, including also loving and heartbreaking. Secrets and conspiracies are divulged, but the narrative is irritatingly verbose which makes reading somewhat tedious. Even so it is inherently humorous throughout with a clever and witty writing style similar to columnists and feature contributors to newspaper supplements and magazines. What may initially appear as aimless or pointless is cunningly pulled together, and though a few loose ends are left, the story is eventually brought to a satisfying conclusion by the Police. Rather than a great novel `Burley Cross Postbox Theft' makes for an entertaining and pleasant holiday read.
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