- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown (30 April 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316724831
- ISBN-13: 978-0316724838
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.3 x 4.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,062,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Hearts And Minds Hardcover – 30 Apr 2009
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More About the Author
You can find out more on www.amandacraig.com, which includes a regular blog on literary matters.
** 'This is a novel written with passion and moral outrage. It is a vivid portrait of a city that is at once familiar and disconcertingly strange (THE TIMES Joan Smith)
** 'Rich, Dickensian (SUNDAY TIMES Penny Perrick)
** 'She is a humane writer as well a waspish one and it is the plight of London's migrant workers and sink-school pupils with which she is primarily concerned here, and her passion and care are affecting (OBSERVER Lisa O'Kelly)
** 'There is much in HEARTS AND MINDS to praise . . . The book displays the author's relentless compassion. A large kindness overarches the novel (GUARDIAN Stevie Davies)
'She is a humane writer as well a waspish one and it is the plight of London's migrant workers and sink-school pupils with which she is primarily concerned here, and her passion and care are affecting'See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The other aspect I loved about the characters is that they are so human and so real; Polly is a human rights lawyers and believes fervently in her cause; helping those who deserve asylum and trying to prevent their deportation yet she is not "goody-goody" or perfect; the reader is privy to all her insecurities and also frivolities. Job, the Zimbabwean, is a very good person but he also strays. The outsider view on the English as expressed in different ways by the characters is also very insightful and amusing. London too is a character in this novel; not glorified or prettified but shown as big, bustling, impatient, exclusionary, grimy but also pretty and village-like at times.
The storyline is compelling, I could not put it down but it is by no means one of those formulaic page-turners that I despise.Read more ›
The book opens with the murder of woman, followed by what appears to be a random stream of events. We're introduced to Polly, a mother of two kids who feels eternally guilty 'even in sleep'. She's divorced, she has a long distance relationship with a man in America, and she's a human rights lawyer who has an illegal immigrant, Iryna running her house. She understands the irony of her position, but never really appreciates what a positive impact Iryna has on her life until something happens. Ian, a teacher who works at the worst school in London, has an accident on a bike. Katie, an editorial assistant, discovers she's working for the boss from hell and that her home environment holds a few shocks. An immigrant taxi driver called Job finds a way to survive by working two jobs. All of these characters are linked and the beauty of Amanda Craig's writing is the believable, seamless way that she achieves this.
It's impossible to read this book without becoming interested in illegal immigrants as human beings, and that's the point of it I think. It tackles the realities of life that many illegal immigrants face. Contrary to popular opinion they do not all get cushy numbers on benefits, if you have a pet, it will probably live a better quality of life than they do. The law isn't always on their side either; it's shocking what happens to Job in this book.
Ian is exposed to this reality every day, as he tries to teach kids who've seen more horror in their young lives than other people can imagine. One day in his English class he asks a boy called Nadif if he has trouble writing. The boy is 'drawing stick soldiers firing guns at figures falling over in a hail of bullets and blood'.Read more ›
But I think perhaps it is exactly her striving to write a novel which totally encapsulates modern London that makes this book suffer. And suffer quite hard, actually. I struggled to finish it, which rarely happens.
Hearts and Minds' main problem is that in trying to reflect 'London', rather than engaging in good old-fashioned characterisation, Craig presents a cast of characters who are essentially ventriloquist dummies for a smorgasbord of various (and usually over-simplified) political and/or societal positions. So instead of complex interior thought patterns which relate to a unique and conflicted life, most of the character's on-page time is taken up with musings on various 'issues of the day' (immigration, mainly), which serve to render them as little more than mouthpieces for each demographic/political section of a painfully over-drawn 'modern London'. So (to give just a few examples), we get the immigrants coming out with things like the following:
"We don't get good jobs, man. That's for white people."
"Without people like us, you would drown in dust. Do you think toilet paper is renewed by magic, and light bulbs never fail?"
"This is what the white man has given them, he thought, this great longing, this curiosity and thirst to learn more; but here, in the white man's own country, children have lost it."
"...he has even heard them complain to each other about how foreign shopkeepers 'put nothing back into the community.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An amazing book, I lent this to friend after reading and it's one my saddest losses as far as books go. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Kathleen Uziel
This book was a very enjoyable read....I loved the way that the myriad characters' lives interconnected, or almost did. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jane Anderson
I can't begin to express just how much I loved this book. The characters were complete rounded and believable. The London setting was very well done. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Lellie
Very interesting book full of the author's outrage at social injustice but also a well driven plot line. The characters are well developed as is a sense of place. Recommended!Published 14 months ago by Chester
I enjoyed the book but the end was a bit odd - I think it either should have been a couple of chapters longer or perhaps it needs a sequel. Read morePublished on 10 Nov. 2013 by Daisy Edward
Fantastic, the novel really altered the way I view not only Britain but politics and immigration. I couldn't put it down.Published on 6 Oct. 2013 by Ellis
A really involving, moving read.
Great, interweaving stories with a strong social message, thought provoking but not preachy. Hard to put down.
I can't better other reviewer's descriptions of the huge canvas this novel is painted on, as the lives of several very diverse characters slowly begin to overlap. Read morePublished on 26 July 2013 by P. Ashley
What a great read. Loved reading the harrowing and sometimes disturbing day to day life of a wide variety of characters who all are living in London. Read morePublished on 21 Mar. 2013 by Claire R