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Half of the Human Race [Hardcover]

Anthony Quinn
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Feb 2011

London. In the sweltering summer of 1911, the streets ring to the cheers for a new king's coronation, and to the cries of suffragist women marching for the vote. One of them is twenty-one-year-old Connie Callaway, daughter of a middle-class Islington family fallen on hard times since the death of her father. Forced to abandon her dream of a medical career, Connie is now faced with another hard choice - to maintain lawful protest against an intransigent government or to join the glass-breaking militants in 'the greatest cause the world has ever known'.

Holidaying with her family on the South Coast, Connie is introduced to Will Maitland, cricketer and rising star of his county. Despite their mutual attraction, they part on unfriendly terms, she dismayed by his innate chauvinism, he astonished by her outspokenness. Yet they are destined to meet again, their lives inextricably entangled in the fate of Will's friend and idol Andrew Tamburlain, 'The Great Tam', a former Test batsman whose legendary big hitting was once the toast of the nation.

Duty plays a commanding part in the life of these two young people, whose love for one another, in a different time, might have bound them in matrimony. But Connie, fired up by the possibilities of independence, wants more than the conventional comforts of marriage; and Will, a son of his age and class, is both attracted and appalled by her quest for self-fulfilment. Buffeted and spun by choice and chance, the two remain tied together, even as the outbreak of war drives them further apart.

Combining national drama and private tragedy, Half of The Human Race is a book about men and women and their difficulties in understanding each other at a turning-point in history. It is a deeply affecting story of love, sacrifice, suffrage and county cricket, projected against a vivid backdrop of England in an extraordinary age of turmoil and violence.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; First Edition edition (3 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224087290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224087292
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 473,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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`By jove, it's a corker' --Tatler, January 11, 2011

'Not only is Connie Callaway, one of his two principals, part of the sisterhood of the Suffragette movement, the other, Will Maitland, is a championship cricketer who operates in an all-male sporting environment. To portray two such gender-specific worlds equally convincingly is a tall order, but Quinn carries it off with aplomb. His impeccable eye for detail, perfect pitch for the nuances of dialogue, and the quiet, understated passion that enlivens his writing - all seen to good effect in his debut novel The Rescue Man - combine here to make his considerable achievement seem effortless... There are also vivid descriptions of women's prisons, of the trenches of the First World War, of the sweeping-away of the complacency of the Edwardian age. Quinn's grasp of history is acute, but it is his ambition - and his ability to deliver on it - that impresses most. The Rescue Man won prizes. Half of the Human Race should follow in its footsteps and establish its author as one of our most impressive novelists' --Independent,

'His integration of the historical background into the lives of his protagonists (the suffrage movement, Edwardian professional cricket, the experience of the trenches) is admirably done, with everything stitched into a seamless tapestry. The rhythm of rejection and understanding in Connie and Will's relationship is mapped out with care and precision. The permutations between them and sad, lonely Tam are explored with such exemplary meticulousness that you can't help but be touched' --The Sunday Times,

'This is only Anthony Quinn's second novel, but you would never guess it from the expert way he marshals his material, telling a human story in a literate, intelligent way... If the cricket scenes bring a nostalgic smile to the face, the real guts of the book can be found in the character of Connie. She is sprightly, impulsive, independent-minded... Her passion for justice never stifles her capacity for intellectual self-doubt and emotional tenderness. You really care what happens to her. Half of the Human Race is not just an exhilarating love story, bur a thoughtful, well-crafted novel that can be recommended to lovers of cricket, smoking or Jane Austen - not necessarily in that order' --Daily Telegraph,

'Half of the Human Race is the sort of novel one presses on a friend in a spirit of happy envy, confident of the fictional treat that lies ahead of them' --Evening Standard,

`Captivating, thought-provoking and compelling.' --Easy Living

`This beautifully constructed novel imagines a romance between a cricketer and a suffragette.' --The Observer

`Both as a historical novel and as the story of a love affair Half of the Human Race is a credible and compelling book.'
`Male authors do not always succeed with novels in which the central character is a woman, but Anthony Quinn has portrayed Connie in subtle shades. He is equally convincing with his male character'
`This is a moving and compelling novel that has the potential to become a successful film.'

`excellent and surprising book.'
`A wonderfully rich sense of time and place is evoked.'
`Quinn's subtle historical scene-setting is painterly but never clich�éd.'
`The final section of the book covers the war years and it is here that the writing really gathers pace, with Quinn hitting his stride in some truly heart-stopping battle scenes.'
`The oft-described horror of trench warfare is envisioned with a fresh eye and a keen ear for the many different voices thrown together in a fighting company, and at times it is possible to forget that this is fiction rather than a first-hand account.'
`A thoroughly absorbing and moving novel and it is testament to the author's adaptability and energy'
--The Sunday Times

`Few books boast a suffragette heroine and a professional cricket hero but Anthony Quinn's second novel pulls off such a strange pairing because it is old-fashioned in a very good way... Quinn memorably foregrounds the humanity of the characters... in his novel's historical sweep and tells their stories wonderfully' --Metro

`... powerful and touching. In Connie, Quinn has created a compelling heroine' --Guardian Review

`What lights up Half of the Human Race is not only the Suffragist movement in all its glory and lunacy, but Quinn's affection for his cast'
`So often, historical fiction relies on research for its colour and depth of interest, but these are people who feel absorbingly real in their misunderstandings, jokes, troubles and passions.'
`It would make a compelling film, but is an even more satisfying novel' --The Daily Telegraph

'Trench warfare is vividly described: the agonizing wait for dawn, the despairing bravery of those going `over the top', the futility, the waste, the sadness. Anthony Quinn tells this part of his tale faultlessly, and without a clich�é. Quinn writes about cricket with an insider's authority, amanaging o retain the interest of readers less familiar with it by his deft use of cricket's idiosyncratic vocabulary, which bestows a poetic charm on his style' --The Tablet

'A highly readable book about love, loyalty and integrity' --Daily Mail

'Enthralling... in effortlessly fluent prose, Quinn keeps you riveted until the very end' --Mail on Sunday

'with crisp prose and evocative description, Anthony Quinn's second novel embodies early 20th century Britain with aplomb and exhumes a political plight that still has great relevance' --Eastern Daily Press

'Not just an exhilarating love story... a bold, impressive novel' --Waitrose Weekend

`The Suffragette movement and pre-war country cricket might seem an odd couple for a novel but Anthony Quinn marries them perfectly in a nostalgic and compelling tale whose themes of love and friendship on and off the pitch will appeal to lovers of romance and cricket alike.' --The Cricketer

`I'm attempting to write my own novel about this era, and so I'm very curious to see how Quinn (a terrific film and fiction critic) manages to dramatise it. I'm only on chapter three, and already I'm picking up tips fast!' --Daily Telegraph

Book Description

A captivating and engrossing new novel on the Suffragette movement, county cricket and the First World War by the prize-winning Anthony Quinn.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars County Cricket - Jane Austen style 2 Jan 2012
By Isola
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This novel is beautifully written and I absolutely loved it. I've become an instant Anthony Quinn fan and am about to dive into his debut novel 'Rescue Man'.

At the heart of 'Half of the Human Race' is a compelling 'will they - won't they' Austen style English romance, which takes place from the end of Queen Victoria's reign through to the first world war - which not only blighted human life but changed the role of women in society.

Will Maitland, a rising county cricket star; a man of traditional means and patriarchal opinions meets Constance Calloway; an unwavering suffragette, would-be surgeon working in a book shop. The author tells his excellent tale from the point of view of both protagonists, portraying their gender specific worlds equally.

His significant other characters are engaging and well drawn; especially Will's hero, a legendary batsman and Connie's friend, a Bohemian artist. Descriptions throughout the book are vivid and true, from the horrors of Holloway to the terror of the trenches. Quinn also covers the misunderstandings of mental illness during that period; highlighting the fact that failure and suicide issues are not a 'modern' medical disorder.

The entire novel is well crafted, thoroughly researched and detailed in development. The prose is elegant and the pace a perfect pitch. If Anthony Quinn holds a tight rein on his novel, it would make a wonderful British film.

Highly recommended (even if you don't like cricket!).
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bowled over 30 Jan 2011
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
At heart, `Half of the Human Race' is a `will they, won't they' love story featuring an upper class, emerging county cricketer, Will Maitland, and a middle class strong, educated, cricket-loving woman, Constance Callaway. But this is so much more than a question of will the cricketer bowl a maiden over? It's a novel about friendship, love, fighting for what you believe in and, also, surprisingly, about celebrity.

The book is set in that fascinating period of British history from the end of Queen Victoria's long reign to the Great War. It's no surprise that this is an attractive period for writers as this was an age of such contrasts and emerging political and social change. It was a period of that British idyl of the idle rich having the freedom to not grow up, until of course the outbreak of war when those that survived had to grow up fast, while so many never got the chance. It was also a period of ideas, not least among them the key theme running through this book of the issue of the suffragette movement and the opportunities for women to be more than homemakers. Constance is an educated young woman but her nascent career in medicine has been cut short when the family falls on hard times and all the available funds are diverted to her brother's education. On a family holiday she meets for the first time the young cricketer, Will, but their mutual attraction initially founders due to Will's traditional views that a woman should be seen and not heard.

I've mentioned the cricket theme a number of times already and I confess that as a cricket-lover, there's no doubt that enhanced my enjoyment of the book. However, aware that probably more than `half of the human race' do not share this passion, it's fair to point out that there is no need to share this cricketing enthusiasm.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best book I have read for ages - and I read a lot 14 April 2011
By Linda
This is an absolutely first rate read. I do read a lot and rarely find something this good. The female character is incredibly well drawn by the male author but I would have thought the book has appeal to men and women alike - particularly those with an interest in the years before and aft WWI.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it (despite the cricket...) 14 Jan 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed Anthony Quinn's first novel, The Rescue Man, mainly because it was set in Liverpool and I was familiar with a lot of locations in the book. From the synopsis I thought his second, Half of the Human Race, sounded just my cup of tea - and I was right.

I find the time just before, during and after WW1 fascinating because of all the changes taking place in society, with barriers between the classes and sexes starting to break down, and this book is a compelling portrait of one particular aspect of that tumultuous second decade of the 20th century. Our heroine Constance (Connie) Calloway, has had to put her dreams of becoming on a surgeon on hold due to a combination of reduced family circumstances and hostility towards female medics. Instead she has joined the Suffragettes and is making a name for herself as an agitator. Through a family connection she meets Will Maitland, a lawyer turned professional cricketer. Will is a principled man, fiercely loyal to his friends, but he's also a traditionalist and doesn't approve of or even understand some of Connie's more extreme endeavours in the Suffragette cause.

I have to say there's a bit too much information about cricket for my liking in the first 100 pages or so, and I was worried that this would carry on for the whole book. Thankfully it doesn't - the Suffragette storyline soon takes centre stage as Connie and her comrades fight to free themselves of the constraints placed on their gender, using every means necessary to make their voices heard.

All this is happening as the timeline moves into 1914, which inevitably means that these young people will find themselves thrown into the chaos of war, with their lives changing forever.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book.
The book arrived in good time and was as described. Thank you.
This was a book recommended from our book group. Really enjoyed it.
Published 8 months ago by Mrs Pauline Hinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Tale of an Independent Woman
This is a well-crafted and balanced novel, but is not especially original. In 1911 we find Connie Callaway, a bright, independent girl who supports women's suffrage. Read more
Published 13 months ago by gerardpeter
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming story
I really enjoyed this Edwardian love story set within a dramatic backdrop of female suffrage and the horrors of World War One. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Rj Alder
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea
I was attracted to this novel by a number of its promises. It featured cricket, the suffragette movement, the Edwardian age and the carnage of the 1WW, all of which, as themes,... Read more
Published 13 months ago by John Brain
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Boring read. couldn't recommend it unless you're keen on cricket, and boring war stories. Sorry, I couldn't recommend this as a good read at all.
Published 16 months ago by Mrs. C. E. Thompson
2.0 out of 5 stars Creative writing overdose
The basic plot was interesting, with some interesting characters. The style was laboured and it felt as if the writer had been on too much of a creative writing course. Read more
Published 18 months ago by variety reader
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating read!
The first of Anthony Quinn's books that I've read, but it won't be last! Captivating from start to finish; this beautifully written novel captures the horrors of war, both abroad... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Judi
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I read the review of this in the Daily Mail and was very interested. It did not dissapoint, its now on its way around our book circle.
Published 19 months ago by Lesleye
3.0 out of 5 stars Suffragettes and Cricket Whites
Suffragettes and Cricket Whites, goes some way to describe Half of the Human Race. Whilst not a bad novel overall, it is, I feel, deeply flawed. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Quicksilver
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking brilliance
An intelligent and thoughtful look at life in the UK pre & post WW1. Mr Quinn is to be commended for his ability to portray Connie's attitudes, beliefs and their development... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Moonshine
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should be THE best-seller of 2011 0 26 Dec 2010
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