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I'll Go to Bed at Noon: A Novel Paperback – 20 Sep 2005


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Paperback, 20 Sep 2005
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New edition edition (20 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393328007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393328004
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,727,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The narrative is mind-bogglingly crisp, resourceful and sometimes hilarious in its description of the myriad ways in which people drink.... This is both a moral and a literary book.... Remarkable."

Book Description

SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2004. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "gavinrob2001" on 11 Nov. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Gerard Woodward's second novel is a well-written, sobering account of the destruction wrought by alcohol dependency on members of a north London family through the 1970s. The novel is intricately woven, with both plot and characters well-developed. Woodward's prose is laced with generous measures of humour throughout that make the themes of alcoholism and family dysfunction less harrowing for the reader. Nevertheless, it is a tense journey anticipating the havoc that the increasingly volatile eldest son, Janus, will wreak upon his family.
I'll Go to Bed at Noon thoroughly deserves its short-listing for the 2004 Booker Prize. I have not given it a 5-star rating as it didn't quite have the emotional impact that I had hoped for two reasons. Firstly, although I do feel sympathy for the plight of the mother, Collette, in this story (particularly as I have witnessed similar family dynamics first-hand, including emotional manipulation and the guilt of being labeled a 'bad mother'), I became increasingly frustrated with Collette's inaction against Janus despite contrary advice from other family members. Secondly, in order to better understand 'the real Janus' I wanted more insight into his character - other than his musical abilities - before the onset of alcoholism. After finishing the book, I re-read the blurb more carefully to discover that Woodward's critically-acclaimed debut novel August also features the lives of the same family. As a result, although I'll Go to Bed at Noon is a satisfying read on its own terms, it may be preferable to read it as a sequel to the earlier work.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steve Crump on 24 Sept. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Having read and enjoyed Woodward's first book 'August'I started 'I'll Go to Bed At Noon' expecting the same mix of humour and sadness. It is a follow on from the first book looking at the unusual Jones family throughout the 1970s. The main theme of the book is the battle that almost all of the family have with alcohol. To say that they enjoy a drink is an understatement.Woodward's characters are brilliantly portraid throughout the book, particulary Janus, the sad genious who is both facinating and frightening in turns. The book has just been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and while it may be the outsider on the list it deserves it's place amongst them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Oct. 2005
Format: Paperback
Even though the story is depressing, I enjoyed this book. It shows that families with real problems can still have 'good days', and be close and loving.
The quality of the writing is inconsistent. The best description in the novel must be of the camping holiday, spoilt by the uninvited arrival of the black sheep, Janus. Perhaps the quality of this chapter reflects the author's love of camping holidays?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By wilfpuckdale on 28 Dec. 2004
Format: Hardcover
I got more gripped by this book as I read it. The first chapter was like being introduced to a complicated family of strangers with little incentive to bother about who they all were, but once I was through this the characters and the story got me more and more involved. I found myself getting angry with Janus, the drunken (maybe even schizophrenic?) son, and with his ever forgiving mother Colette. For a lot of the book I kept wondering why I was persevering with this depressing saga of alcoholics. But by the end I somehow had a feeling that all this was transcended by feelings of forgiveness and redemption, beautifully brought to life by the final chapter.
The only drawbacks of the book for me were 1) the irritating over emphasis on details of the news of the day (the drought of 1976, the miner's strike, etc) which seemed contrived and didn't do much to evoke the period for me {I am ten years older than the author so remember it all pretty well] - and 2) several careless errors that should have been picked up in proof reading: greengrocer's apostrophes, misspelling of proper names (Michael Barret, Des O'Conner), and the blurb on the flyleaf announcing that the action is set in 1970 when it very clearly begins in 1974... call me a pedant but why should a good book be let down in this way?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 15 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
Without a trace of moralising or any of the usual psychological dissembling, Woodward tells the story of a family in thrall to alcoholism. The worst of the bunch is eldest son Janus, though mother Colette is not far behind. Her brother, another Janus, drinks himself to death during the course of the novel and it seems clear that the grandfather was a drunkard too. The novel shows how the good will of everyone that Janus, the son, touches shrivels up and rejection becomes inevitable, including that of his three siblings and his throng of put-upon friends

Much ordinary life is also in evidence - Colette is not a flamboyant drunkard and manages to run a household successfully. Her husband, Aldous, drinks only intermittenly, and, indeed, practises a kind of impervious withdrawal at times of the most heated altercations. The depiction of Janus, the son, is the most all-pervading. His drunkenness ruins his life - he was a promising music student but has become lost to all normality because drink rules him. As with any drug-addiction story, one is repelled and horrified at the lengths people will go to get their drug of need. Janus removes the lead piping from the family bathroom when he needs ready cash at one point in the novel.

In the end, even Colette comes round to agreeing that something must be done and by this point the reader is so cleverly inveigled into this story that she is quite likely to be willing them on.

It is not an enjoyable book, but it is a book that you cannot stop reading, so strongly and insidiously do the characters become lodged in your mind. You cannot but care about them and find yourself given up to them for the space of the novel. This is very good writing indeed.
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