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Is There Anything You Want? Paperback – 2 Feb 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (2 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099472139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099472131
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 328,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Few authors share Margaret Forster's extraordinary ability to transform the ordinary day-to-day activities of unremarkable people into compelling fiction... Written with brilliant and exquisite sensitivity" (Daily Mail)

"Written with enormous sensitivity and compassion" (Red)

"The kind of novel into which you plunge with satisfaction" (Sunday Times)

"Accomplished...moving" (Times Literary Supplement)

"Written with insight, wit and tremendous style" (Spectator)

Book Description

A characteristically compelling, clear-eyed, humane and heartbreaking novel about a taboo subject - and about what it feels like to be a survivor...

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Mar 2006
Format: Paperback
As a previous Margaret Forster fan I picked up this book with enthusiasm, but as a health care worker I found it disturbing and depressing. Perhaps this was the intention and it certainly kept me turning the pages but ultimately this book describes women's lives being devastated by cancer, surrounded by dysfunctional relationships and fear, anger and loneliness.
Whilst a diagnosis of cancer is never anything but devastating, many real people who survive cancer or live with the diagnosis of cancer find enormous strength within themselves and draw enormous support from relationships that become stronger because of discussing the things in life that really matter. I kept hoping that one of Forster's characters would find this strength and reach out to the others, but all her characters were isolated and lonely. This was a book about lives being destroyed by cancer rather than lives lived to the full despite cancer.
I would like to know what breast cancer survivors think of this book but I would feel too nervous lending it to them. Maybe it would make them feel they were not doing too badly in the same way that Rachel Cusk's ' A life's work" made me feel I wasn't such a bad mother after all! But I think it would just make them feel depressed.
There is no doubt however that Forster writes extremely perceptively about human emotions and experiences. The book has made me think differently about a human situation and this is always her great strength.
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By Lukal8 on 1 Mar 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was not looking forward to reading this book after reading the two quite bad Amazon reviews for it (at time of writing), also the subject matter seemed a bit depressing, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it, I even wished it were a little longer. The reviews here clearly do not give Margaret Forster justice for this book, she is a fantastically brilliant writer, and this novel clearly exemplifies her talent for creative writing and extreme realism.

I felt as though I were looking through a peephole into the lives of the characters in the book, and felt that this idea was only more emphasized by the way in which we are only allowed a mere glimpse into some of the character's lives, which some readers might wrongly point out to be a criticism.

The subject matter was handled with extreme sensitivity, real insight, and emotion, I can't imagine it being done in a better way. The messages in this book are powerful, and while it may not be the kind of book I would read again (although I rarely read anything twice) and there is little "story" or plot to it, I would still highly recommend this book to anyone prepared to read it (without sounding sexist I feel it is more for female readers). On the cover it says: "brilliant, exquisitely sensitive", and I think that sums this book up perfectly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 5 Mar 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The blurb on the back of this book describes the seven female characters as survivors. To a degree this is true. Ida, Edwina and Rachel have all survived breast cancer; Sarah has been told her breast cysts are almost certainly benign; Dot copes valiantly with a crippled husband and a difficult relationship with her daughter Sarah; Chrissie has managed to get a high-ranking job as a cancer specialist in a competitive world; and Mrs Hibbert is still active and full of energy at the age of seventy. But in fact, this is a novel (or rather, an interlinking collection of stories) about misery. All the female characters in this book are damaged or unhappy. Mrs Hibbert's super-capability and busy life keeps her from brooding on painful memories, from her marriage and from an earlier relationship; underneath her bustling, bossy exterior she is very lonely. Chrissie can't cope with the pressures of her work, and the emotional distress it causes her brings her close to breakdown. Dot is terrified by her bullying husband and by life; Sarah, her daughter, is terrified of getting cancer, in a difficult relationship with a married man, and beset by fears which go back to her childhood. Rachel feels that she cannot connect with her family or make close friends, and is still suffering from the end of an intense relationship. And Edwina and Ida are damaged by their experiences of cancer - Edwina, who 'hates to be noticed', is obsessed that her cancer may come back, and seeks relief in reading and daydreaming, failing to notice that her younger daughter is in serious relationship trouble, while Ida, who doesn't even have the intellectual consolation of books, drifts into a haze of misery and obsessive dread that her cancer will return, and refuses to confide in or show warmth to her kindly husband Martin.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Soozanna on 8 Sep 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Loved this book. I agree with some other reviews that not much happens in it but nonetheless each night as I tottered up the stairs to bed I glanced at the book and knew that within a couple of minutes I would be surrounded by Margaret Forster's very real characters. The subject matter 'cancer' which initially held me back from starting this book, figured very little in the story I thought, simply lurked in the background. This is very true of real life and every family has a cancer story somewhere within it. What I do find in her books is always, somewhere in the story, I find myself, my mother, my sisters and friends - I think this is why I love her so much X
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