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Crocodile Soup Paperback – 3 Jun 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; Re-issue edition (3 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141015160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141015163
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,355,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Gert works in the Egyptian room at a museum. At 35 her life is in stasis. Her mother, whom she hasn't seen for years, writes her a letter asking for help and forgiveness. At work, she sees a young woman ballroom dancing alone in the empty cafeteria and it's love at first sight. How can she seduce this pale-faced beauty? She starts remembering her strange childhood, how her father left for a crocodile farm in Africa and her mother started drinking while Gert and her twin brother Frank floated about in their own psychic spheres. Her articulation of this lonely time releases her from alienation and the novel pushes forward to its moving resolution.

Darling's prose would make any poet jealous. The idiosyncrasies of Gert's world and imagination are drawn so precisely that we can almost smell the house in which she grew up, almost feel physically transported to the particular corners of her outsider perspective. It is a novel about mothers and lovers and the struggle to grow up, a novel of spirit and humour wrought out of the mini-tragedies of adolescence and family psycho-drama which provoke Gert's mid-thirties crisis and its exorcism. Julia Darling is a real writer. This is a debut that promises a great career. --Hannah Griffiths --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Gert Hardcastle is thirty-something and unlucky in love. As the novel opens, she thinks she has found The One - Eva, who works in the cafeteria of the northern museum where Gert catalogues the Egyptian artefacts. As Gert embarks on her hilarious and poignant pursuit, she looks back on her eccentric childhood. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
Dear Gert, I know I haven't been in touch for some time, but then neither have you. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By unlikely_heroine VINE VOICE on 3 May 2004
Format: Paperback
I started to read this book several times, and struggled to get into it. It is written in an off-beat, quirky style that really lets us inside the head of the main character, and somehow this initially deterred me from reading "Crocodile Soup". However, one day I found myself picking this book up and looking at it again and after reading through the first 40 pages or so, I was hooked.
This is a clever and intriguing story about a character, her sexuality and her life, and is very well-written, as well as being entertaining. The lesbian aspect is realistic and convincing and Gert is a likeable and well-drawn character.
All-in-all, not bad - something different yet (ultimately!) readable, and thought-provoking in places.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
If I could sum this book up in two words it would be `wonderfully bizarre'. Julia Darling's novel `Crocodile Soup' is a very clever piece that leaves you wondering if the storyteller Gert is mad or if in fact real life is mad. This has taken me a little longer than I thought, but this was good in two ways, firstly I wanted to savour the writing and secondly the surreal qualities of the novel do mean you need to read this carefully to piece it all together, it's worth it.

Gert the unlikely likeable heroine of the novel is unfulfilled; she works behind the scenes of a museum (I think this is where the Kate Atkinson similarities have started) in the Egyptian Department. The museum has just been funded by the lottery meaning jobs are unstable and in the midst of this an infatuation starts with her over Eva the girl in the canteen. In her modern life she starts to unravel, partly after receiving letters from her estranged mother. She starts going back over her turbulent childhood as well as her adult years and it appears she is having some kind of breakdown.

The surreal is not in the modern part of the book, more in her childhood. Her twin brother Frank makes it clear she hasn't always been the best truth teller. You hear wonderful stories of her childhood, the ghost in the house, the flasher by the pond, her fathers and the nannies separate disappearances and your left wondering if this brilliant surreal stories are true or not. All in all it doesn't matter because they are fantastic stories which more seem to explain the mental and emotional journey of a young girl becoming a woman and a gay woman whilst being totally alienated by her mother. This is a coming of age tale unlike I have read in a long while.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 April 1999
Format: Paperback
Julia Darling manages to write in such brilliance you wouldn't want to let go of the book for a minute until you finish it. It contains what seems to be true pain, that it's descriptive manner, made me hurt myself. Buy it buy it buy it. I wish they'd teach me such books at university, instead of the boring canonised contemporary authors that could make you sleep.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 May 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a moving, funny and insightful novel, with brilliant writing on every page. Julia Darling has a voice unlike anyone else's. It is quite simply a great book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Emily - London on 5 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
The narrator's dead brother Frank says that Gert always inteprets everything in an extreme way. Perhaps the au pair did not drown, only let the lilo adrift. Perhaps Gert was not responsible for breaking her mother's legs when she was a toddler. Perhaps the ghost of a dead female poet did not really appear in the family house. Did her brother commit suicide? (Really in fiction or really in real ife, because this is a novel that draws heavily on Julia Darling's life.) Did her father really go off to run a crocodile farm in Africa? And then disappear forever on a sailing trip?
This is murky family soup, offered up by a narrator on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And who's to say whether it is Gert's extreme interpretation of reality that is causing the breakdown, or reality taking an extreme turn? This is a book that uses the surreal to describe realistically what life feels like on the edge.
Small things are becoming big, like the black sacks of hospital waste that the cleaners dump at the back of her flats, and the museum's prize mummy going missing. But big things are presented in quite a small way too, like falling in love with a woman who isn't in love with you. And Mum writing to say that Cameron's dead and can she come and live with you; like losing your job; like not talking about your brother dying. And at the end the book takes us back down to earth and Gert faces up to the big things.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Mar. 2001
Format: Paperback
This book reminded me very much of Kate Atkinson's "Behind The Scenes At The Museum" - which was fine by me, because I loved that too. The writing is stylish but understated and the gentle mixture of humour and sadness was lovely. A real pleasure to read.
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