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Isa and May Hardcover – 4 Feb 2010

36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; First Edition; 1st printing. edition (4 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701184663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701184667
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.8 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 551,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

one of the '10 Best book club reads for spring' --Red

`Margaret Forster has always had the enviable gift of making her characters spring to life...' --The Scotsman

`[Forster] has written so brilliantly about female relationships... she can encapsulate a whole scene in a single sentence... [a] whole rich, fascinating novel'. --Literary Review

`A deliciously observed, dilemma-and-drama-packed read' --The Daily Mail

`A sensitive and intelligent novel with passages of beautifully modulated pathos, while being in part, hugely funny.' --The Times

`A compelling story, sometimes funny, sometimes painfully sad ... All family life is here, messy, insistent and, as the author convincingly shows, as essential as breathing' --The Sunday Times

"A curious, compelling story." --The Sunday Telegraph

'Fascinating' --Red

`Past and present come together in intriguing and shocking ways' --Woman and Home

'enjoyable and memorable' --Financial Times, 15 February 2010

`Margaret Forster's professional skills and accomplishment are to the fore, as usual.' -- Independent

Book Description

An engaging, intriguing novel which will appeal straight to Margaret Forster's heartland, about a young woman, her two very different grandmothers, Isa and May, and the secrets that families keep.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By C. Walshe on 5 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Like Leela, I am enjoying this excellent book. I too am a grandmother (of 10 - 8 grandaughters and expecting no.4 great-grand-child.)
Isamay, the narrator, only grand-daughter of Isa and May, is supposedly telling us about her dissertation for her M.A. which
she wants to be about relationships between grand-daughters and grandmothers but is finding it difficult to find a title.
In the process she unwinds the secrets of her own family's history and also the GM/GD relationships of famous women:Queen Victoria, Sarah Bernhardt etc. My assessment may sound very heavy going but this book is anything but. I catch myself giggling my way through quite a lot of it at the author's delicious sense of humour. Like Isamay, I get curiouser and curiouser as the tale unfolds and keep wondering where Margaret Forster is leading me. She is one of my favourite authors so I grabbed this book as soon as it 'outed' and am finding it one of her best. The contrasts between the two grandmothers, Isa and May, are beautifully drawn and one can feel the riots of jealousy between both. Isamay's partner Ian is an enigma and I wonder how a curiosity cat like Isamay can tolerate his refusal to speak about his past. Another reason to keep reading ISA AND MAY and to delve into their stories.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By me on 17 April 2011
Format: Paperback
Agree with everyone else who found it a let down from fabulous Maragret Forster. The plot is slow, all the characters unlikeable. Isamay seemd about 50 not 30 - had she no friends? No hobbies? And her relatiobship with Ian seemed based on nothing. WHy did he not move out as soon as she made her announcement? Why did she like him at all?
I think the idea of parents and therefore grandparents coming from different classes is very interesting, but neither character was less than a cliche from the "gor blimey" grandmother to the one from Wicked step mother central casting. WHy did the mother and father never seem to be meeting their daughter together?
All in all an odd read and one that took a while to finish.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Deborah L on 29 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I love Margaret Forster and have read all of her novels so was very much looking forward to this arriving. I was however disappointed with this book. It lacks a clear narrative, the characters are not well drawn and it is well - a little smug. The narrative is patchy and lacks a clear arc. It is not clear why she introduces a number of plot changes and devices - most of which do not work terribly well. I will not be a spoiler and reveal what these are but suffice to say that the book is not clear what the main story line is. The second problem with the book is that the characters are a little superficial. The relationship with the parents is not well drawn but this is a minor criticism as against the poorly conceived relationship with the boyfriend. I was baffled at this relationship and it simply does not ring true or work as a plot device. Thirdly, I thought that the relationship between the main character and the grandmas is a little too self congratulatory and smug. The author is at pains to highlight the differences rather than the similarities between the two grandmas and setting them poles apart in terms of class means that the similarities are obscured. Overall, the book lacks the deft touch that I would have expected from Forster. This writer is extremely sophisticated and clever and able to draw the subtleties and complexities of human relationships - this is sadly missing from this book. I was disappointed.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Forster Fan on 13 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
No modern author whose books I have read captures the relationships between mothers and daughters as well as Margaret Forster. I'm pleased to see that she's moved to grandmothers and granddaughters, as I have too moved into grandmotherhood. While this may not be her best book (My favorite is "Have the Men Had Enough?"), her not-quite-the-best is always better than many other authors' best, including many that have won the Man Booker. It's a pity that she isn't better known in the US, then I wouldn't have to pay postage to Texas.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Big reader on 19 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like many of the other reviewers, I was delighted to see a new Margaret Forster novel, but was dismayed to find that it lacked any driving force, characterisation or even plot. I am someone who can read a delicious book in less than a day, but I've been struggling with this one for weeks and do not pick it up with anticipation. I enjoyed all of Margaret Forster's fiction AND non-fiction (the latter which she has managed to invest with the same energy as her novels), but this book has defeated me. I don't think she has explored the relationships well; in fact, they seem enormously stereotyped in some areas and totally unbelievable in others. I wouldn't recommend this to Forster fans, and hope she gets back into her stride soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Camilla Macaulay on 15 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
Isamay is named after her two grandmothers, Isobel and May. The whole theme of the book is the relationship between grandmothers and grandaughters. Twenty-nine year old Isamay has never done a days real work in her life, she seems to be a perpetual student who is now studying for her MA. She lives a very middle-class life living in London with her boyfriend and spending afternoons sipping Earl Grey with her Grannies. She is studying grandmothers for her MA and this line of study makes her curious about her own family. Inevitibly some skeletons start to rattle in the cupboard. Isamay's boyfriend Ian has made it clear that he never wants children so on more than one occassion Isamay trots off for an abortion. Irritatingly it doesn't seem to occur to them to use contraception. When Isamay finds herself pregnant again she has some reservations about having another termination. Although she has doubts about raising a child alone, money doesn't seem to be of any concern, surely a little unrealistic. Although Isamay's character seems a little dated and out of touch with modern times I did find this an interesting book to read. If you are a struggling student with three jobs you might want to give it a miss though!
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