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Canvey Island [Paperback]

James Runcie
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

2 April 2007
It is 1953 in Canvey Island. Len and Violet are at a dance. Violet's husband, George sits and watches them sway and glide across the dance floor, his mind far away, trapped by a war that ended nearly ten years ago. Meanwhile, at home, a storm rages and Len's wife, Lily and his young son, Martin fight for their lives in the raging black torrent. The night ends in a tragedy that will reverberate through their lives. This poignant novel follows the family's fortunes from the austerity of the post-war years to Churchill's funeral, from Greenham Common to the onset of Thatcherism and beyond, eloquently capturing the very essence of a transforming England in the decades after the war. It is a triumph of understated emotion, a novel about growing up and growing old, about love, hope and reconciliation.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (2 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747585830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747585831
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 437,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


`I had hours of understated pleasure with Runcie's Canvey Island' -- Helena Drysdale, New Statesman, `Books of the Year'

`Runcie writes with an excellent feeling for time and place, and,
above all, the intensity of ordinary lives' -- Choice

`Runcie's third novel is a funny, epic, moving story of Thameside
folk ... a beautifully observed, tragi-comic work' -- What's On In London

`This book had me hooked before the end of the first sentence, and
its characters stayed with me for weeks afterwards ... excellent' -- Wendy James, New Books

`This is an accomplished, restrained novel of class and personal
conflict, with some great lines and a lovely eye for period detail' -- Robert Colvile, Observer

From the Publisher

This is a moving family saga and a rich portrait of
contemporary England

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Agreed - very good. 30 July 2007
I agree with the last reviewer - I was hooked on this book from the start - and would add just one more "negative" point of my own. I worked on the island for ten years, and as far as I remember, no-one says "in Canvey"; they all say "on Canvey". Other than that, a great, convincing read, and it really took me back.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and enjoyable read 11 Sep 2009
I really enjoyed this novel. Great characters, loved the period detail and liked the use of different character viewpoints. It reminded me a little of "On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan. Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended 2 Mar 2010
By R. Ward
I loved this book. I found it thoroughly absorbing and couldn't put it down. It's easy to read, subtle, sensitive, truthful and at times achingly sad, with characters who are flawed and utterly believable. I'm so glad I read it and look forward to reading more of James Runcie's writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History in the Thames Estuary 21 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very interesting account of the flooding of Canvey Island. With recent weather it is lucky it didn't happen again. Well researched
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is a superbly novel, full of characters who you really care about. The central love story is neither slushly or unrealistic. As someone who lived on the Island for 25 years, it carries an extra ring of truth. Loses just one point for no mention of the rebuilding of Canvey~s sea defences after the great flood. Otherwise, some great historical refences, and highly recommended!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Prosaic? Maybe 5 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a well-observed account of life during the related decades, with sound characterisation. The themes make up for the lack of strength in the plot; but, then, what sort of strong plot would such prosaic lives offer? There's nothing sensational, just ordinary lives lived as best they can with mistakes and successes like anyone else's. I found its verisimilitude uncomfortable, but who wants to be complacent about real life, for that is what the author presents. It's rather sad because it makes one think that perhaps most lives don't make much of a difference. Nevertheless, it is the cumulative effect of all those ordinary lives that make the difference, and perhaps that is the main lesson to be learned from this book. Prepare to be interested, but not to be thrilled or intrigued, and think about your own life and what you do with it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written, interesting history. 26 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the writing and found it interesting. Some of the characters were not necessary to the story but i did enjoy the story which for the times was unusual.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Canvey Island James Runcie
There is a greater element of tragedy in this novel, but it is well written and absorbing. He does not gloss over the darker side of his characters but engages the interest of the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Rev. Dr. D. L. E. Bronnert
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much unhappiness
The story begins as the rain falls and the tide rushes in to swamp Canvey Island in the great floods of 1953. One of the people to die is the mother of Martin. Read more
Published 18 months ago by gerardpeter
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not brilliant
I bought this second hand, having been attracted by the title as I knew Canvey in the 60's and 70's. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Collysdad
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging
It was the beginning that drew me in; the timid child, the sense of foreboding and the quick switch of characters to retain my attention. Read more
Published on 8 April 2012 by H.P.
4.0 out of 5 stars was like no one in the world had ever had a child before...
A quite large piece of reclaimed land on the Thames Estuary, Canvey Island has always been prone to flooding. In 1953 the floods caused the loss of 58 lives. Read more
Published on 3 Feb 2012 by Eileen Shaw
2.0 out of 5 stars Canvey Island
I only read the first couple of chapters before giving up. The description on the flood was not as I remembered it and the book was poorly written. Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2011 by Kathleen
2.0 out of 5 stars A rigorous editor might have helped
I picked this book up secondhand. I was attracted by the title having spent childhood holidays there in the 50s and then having lived nearby for many years. Read more
Published on 5 Aug 2008 by Peake's Fuchsia
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