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Ever After Paperback – 2 Apr 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (2 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330507869
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330507868
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 168,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Graham Swift was born in 1949 and is the author of many acclaimed novels, two collections of short stories (England and Other Stories, and Learning to Swim and Other Stories) and Making an Elephant, a book of essays, portraits, poetry and reflections on his life in writing. With Waterland he won the Guardian Fiction Prize (1983), and with Last Orders the Booker Prize (1996). Both novels have since been made into films. Graham Swift's work has appeared in over thirty languages.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 24 April 2012
Format: Paperback
Ever After is a rumination on death, faith, and finding meaning in life more than a proper novel. The narrator, Bill Unwin, is recovering from a failed suicide. His convalescence is used to muse over the fate of the father he never knew, and who may not even have been his father, and the ravings of his hedonistic mother over the vanity of posterity. Meanwhile, he is withholding the manuscript of one of his Victorian ancestors from a fellow Cambridge don, a vain, publicity-seeking but successful rival. This is finally the motive for a second, parallel plot, in many ways the more interesting, about the Victorian in forebear in question, Matthew Pearce. For Pearce, surveyor, amateur fossil-collector, and son-in-law to the local parson, is a man of his age, scientifically inclined yet religious. Lyell, Darwin cannot fail to attract Pearce, yet they also threaten his marriage and family, his very social standing.

'To be or not to be' is the book's starting point, and indeed Graham makes the parallels explicit. Unwin, for example, suspects his step-father of having been the cause of his father's suicide. The problem is that Ever After functions poorly as a novel. The hero, to start with, is lacking in attractive features. Oh-so-very-British self-deprecation is admirable, but it is hardly a heart-winner on its own, especially without much humour. But the main issue is that the narrative style is too derivative. It only ever offers a thirty-thousand feet view of its characters, failing to bring them to life. This novel is very much second best to Last Orders, and it is a quickly forgotten piece.
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By Keith M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 July 2012
Format: Paperback
Graham Swift's 1992 novel Ever After is an ever-changing and fantastic tale, full of brilliantly inventive prose and truly epic in the scale of its ambitions. However, for me, this is its major flaw - it is simply too ambitious. The subject matter it attempts to encompass really is quite mind-boggling - from the 19th century debate of Darwinism vs religious belief through to the vagaries of 20th century art, theatre, literature and academia. Swift extends himself (and his potential readers' staying power) still further by placing at the heart of his novel the inter-linked stories of Bill Unwin, an aspiring university don with a (very) troubled family history, with that of (150 years earlier) devout believer Matthew Pearce, whose religious faith is shattered following his discovery of a dinosaur fossil - whose history Unwin is pursuing via a series of journals kept by Pearce.

For me, Ever After, is attempting to do too many things at once (although the fact that Swift is able - or at least, attempts - to cover such ground in less than 300 pages is, of itself, a remarkable feat). Unwin's story of thwarted ambition, as a result of which he finds himself managing the acting career of his wife Ruth, together with his troubled parental relationships are, for me, the most compelling strand of Swift's story. The layering on top of this of Pearce's backstory and, in particular, its real relevance to Unwin's state of mind is less clear, and therefore a less compelling read. What is, however, undeniable is the wit and inventiveness of Swift's writing - this builds further on that of his earlier masterpiece Waterland, and whilst Ever After does not work, for me, anything like as effectively as the earlier work, it is nevertheless well worth reading and merits its place in the body of work produced by one of the most inventive British novelists of the last 30 years.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Dec. 2001
Format: Paperback
As with Waterland, Graham's Swift's main accomplishment here is to stealthy wind the past into emotion and storyline. The airtight plot is both fascinating and extremely well written - it is a self-consciously beautiful piece of writing about love and death, but in the end it is a life-affirming peice of work. It may not equal Swift's outstanding acheivment Waterland, but it follows the same lines and at times is more pounding and emotional than the latter would ever be.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
... and Even Beyond 16 Oct. 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
What a poignant and eloquent account of life (or at least the illusion of being alive) by an obviously seasoned and sensitive artist!
Swift describes the sublimely vivid yet hazy realizations about a bookish yet intuitive academic's quest for the pure meaning in his life.
Delicious portraits of life in Paris, recollections of finding and losing true love and friendship, and a yearning to prove or disprove the
validity of doctrinized religion are blended amidst the collage of dabbles with sexuality, betrayal, perceptions of human nature, and the
tragic Hamlet condition of jealousy pangs for a mother who, upon close character inspection, has even further muddled the once secure
ideals regarding family and lineage. There is hardly any well-defined escape out of this complicated entangling, but the seemingly nonexistent
resolution may actually shed an enlightening view upon the meaning of existence... if you read closely enough between the lines. Savor this
one and enjoy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Closing time 24 April 2012
By reader 451 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ever After is a rumination on death, faith, and finding meaning in life more than a proper novel. The narrator, Bill Unwin, is recovering from a failed suicide. His convalescence is used to muse over the fate of the father he never knew, and who may not even have been his father, and the ravings of his hedonistic mother over the vanity of posterity. Meanwhile, he is withholding the manuscript of one of his Victorian ancestors from a fellow Cambridge don, a vain, publicity-seeking but successful rival. This is finally the motive for a second, parallel plot, in many ways the more interesting, about the Victorian in forebear in question, Matthew Pearce. For Pearce, surveyor, amateur fossil-collector, and son-in-law to the local parson, is a man of his age, scientifically inclined yet religious. Lyell, Darwin cannot fail to attract Pearce, yet they also threaten his marriage and family, his very social standing.

'To be or not to be' is the book's starting point, and indeed Graham makes the parallels explicit. Unwin, for example, suspects his step-father of having been the cause of his father's suicide. The problem is that Ever After functions poorly as a novel. The hero, to start with, is lacking in attractive features. Oh-so-very-British self-deprecation is admirable, but it is hardly a heart-winner on its own, especially without much humour. But the main issue is that the narrative style is too derivative. It only ever offers a thirty-thousand feet view of its characters, failing to bring them to life. This novel is very much second best to Last Orders, and it is a quickly forgotten piece.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant writer 13 Feb. 2011
By Nemen M. Terc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a true masterpiece, subtle, profound, exquisitely written. Among the best in modern literature. The writer offers insights into romantic love, and into the minds of scholars and actresses. It deals with the impact of Darwin's ideas on religious minds. The elegant and precise prose reminds me of the witty twists of Nabokov,and the ironic satire of Italo Svevo. A must read for those who appreciate literature.
Readable but over-complex. 11 Sept. 2014
By David Ashbee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
After Waterland and Last Orders I found this rather disappointing. It held me to the end but I began skimming, which I rarely do. It's clever certainly but the prose style, full of disjointed or suspended clauses, struck me as irritating from the outset. The historical sections were too distanced and not fully realised, being brutally snapped off finally in an unconvincing way. Readers who have not read any Graham Swift should look to his more acclaimed novels first.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
An allegory with a twist 1 Aug. 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Graham Swift is the last great story teller-- a combination of Ernest Hemingway and Aesop. By juxtaposing the first person narrative of a disenchanted college proffessor (sp?) and the diaries of an early believer in the evolutionary theaory of nature (Darwin), Swift spins a tale of morality without a moral, and draws paralells between the two protagonists and their respective searches for the answer to one untimelly question- does anythnig really matter? Swift's vivid yet spare prose mirrors the paradoxical nature of both his main characters. Each is at once vulnerable and cynical, courageous but exhausted, afraid to be alone, and afraid of intimacy. Swift could have ended by providing a clearly defined answer to his own characters question thus weakening the realistic tone he had set throughout. However, he refuses to tie such a neat bow. Swift merelly aknowledges that asking the question "is anything divine?" is more important than finding a concrete answer. Swift supposes finally that life is a journey made of questions and we can either rejoice in the precarious nature of such a subjective path, or allow it to cause us to despair.
On the way from page one to the last paragraph, the reader is made to sift through interesting musings concerning Shakespeare, Darwinism, Paris, male/female relationships, suicide, and academic politics.
Graham Swift is possibly the finest modern English writer, and this is quite possibly his finest novel to date.
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