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Leaving the World [Paperback]

Douglas Kennedy
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
RRP: £10.93
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Book Description

18 Feb 2010

On the night of her thirteenth birthday, Jane Howard made a vow to her warring parents - she would never get married and she would never have children.

But life, as Jane discovers, is a profoundly random business. Many years and many lives later, she is a professor in Boston, in love with a brilliant, erratic man named Theo. And then she falls pregnant. Motherhood turns out to be a great welcome surprise - but when a devastating turn of events tears her existence apart she has no choice but to flee all she knows and leave the world.

Just when Jane has renounced life itself, the disappearance of a young girl pulls her back from the edge and into an obsessive search for personal redemption. Convinced that she knows more about the case than the police do, she is forced to make a decision - stay hidden or bring to light a shattering truth.

Like Kennedy's previous highly acclaimed novels, Leaving the World, speaks volumes about the dilemmas we face in trying to navigate our way through all that fate throws in our path.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (18 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099509687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099509684
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Douglas Kennedy ... is famous for two things: writing insightfully about women's lives, and crafting narratives so utterly gripping as to redefine the concept of unputdownable. In Leaving the World, his ninth novel, these strengths combine to make an unforgettable reading experience ... Don't get on a long-haul flight without it, I say" The Times "Kennedy has pulled off another classy page-turner that engages, entertains and consoles ... he once more delivers the message that whatever hole you dig for yourself, you're probably not alone" The Independent "Almost invariably - and courageously - Douglas Kennedy chooses women for his central characters. They tend to be both stylish and troubled and, in Jane Howard's case... tried and tested by more than their fair share of tragedy ... the narrative zips along and has moments of great poignancy" -- Elizabeth Buchan Daily Mail "An emotionally intense and totally compelling read " Woman & Home "Having vowed at the age of 13 never to have children, years later Jane falls pregnant only to suffer a turn of events which compels to destroy her world. Brilliant. 5 star review" Daily Mirror


`In a novel remarkably devoid of mawkishness, Kennedy has pulled off another classy page-turner that engages, entertains and consoles... he once more delivers the message that whatever hole you dig for yourself, you're probably not alone.'
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Douglas Kennedy is back in form 6 Mar 2009
By Julia Flyte TOP 100 REVIEWER
I would advise you not to bother reading the inside flap of this book, as it doesn't give a very helpful idea of what the story is about and it reveals spoilers that don't eventuate until very late in the piece. Leaving The World is narrated by Jane Howard, an English professor whose life has been characterised by being betrayed or let down by almost every significant person that she has been close to. Finally events drive her to a point where she can take no more and she makes a dramatic decision to "leave the world" by fleeing everything and everyone that she knows. But this in many ways becomes the beginning of her life rather than the end of it.

This is a long book and it takes a while to come together. For the first hundred pages or so I was interested enough to keep reading but not so gripped that I couldn't put it down. Jane was not very likeable and I also got tired of the way that every relationship she had was so dramatic, every character so unbelievably larger than life: her mother, her father, her first boyfriend, her second boyfriend, her boss, her husband, his business partner...

Having said that, as I read on I felt more and more caught up in Jane's story and I find myself liking her more and more. Douglas Kennedy has always had a talent for creating complex female characters and for communicating the misery of intense depression without getting bogged down in it. The momentum keeps building with some quite unexpected twists. I was riveted by the book's final third which I read without stopping, unable to put the book down. In many ways this book picks up pieces from all the best of Kennedy's novels - there are segments that are reminiscent of The Job, A Special Relationship, The Pursuit of Happiness and The State of the Union. It's a great read, well worth your time.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing to say the least 29 Mar 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As usual with Douglas Kennedy's books I was so looking forward to Leaving the World. I have to agree with the other reviewers comment that the first 200 pages are a bit slow, but also have to state if the book had not been by Kennedy I would have given up by page 100. Agreeably it did pick up pace in the second section, but I found the storyline when Jane moved to Canada and suddenly became involved with finding the missing girl totally unbelievable - I know the book is a work of fiction but please give me a break!

I fear Douglas Kennedy has become a victim of his own success following the brilliant story lines in Pursuit of Happiness; A Special Relationship; The Job and The Big Picture. His subsequent books all lack the same spark and seem to be written to please publisher's deadlines rather than entertain the reader. I will continue to read any future offerings in the hope that he can recapture that old magic, but Douglas Kennedy is no longer top of my favourite author list.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT SURE WHAT KENNEDY'S DOING? 11 May 2009
I have been a big fan of Douglas Kennedy for a few years now, The Pursuit Of Happiness and A Special Relationship were fabulous books, with great punchy storylines, good lead characters and all round good writing.

I truly have awaited the release of his novels with great anticipation - however - The Woman In The Fifth was such a huge departure from his normal writing that I really did not understand why he had written it. I swallowed hard though and immediately requested Leaving The World in the hope that the last books reviews had persuaded him to return to his normal writing style.

Instead Leaving The World is very slow - by page 250 - 300 I was still waiting for the storyline to pick up. The story of Jane, the university professor whose life seems to go into freefall is so unbelievably slow and the character melancholy and self indulgent. You just long for her to deal with at least something in her life constructively. Many people on this site have written that the last third of the book redeemed it for them. For me it just left me confused about what exactly I was reading. It turned into some sort of detective novel with the lead character getting involved in the hunt for a missing teenager.

After two poor novels I'm not sure how I feel about reading another Kennedy novel - if you are thinking of reading this author then please don't make this your first book by him. He is an awesome writer when he gets it spot on and unfortunately this book fails to deliver the things I love about him.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A slow start but persevere! 15 Mar 2009
It was strange (in a very good way) to read a novel where the main character shares my name but I have to confess that I did not find Douglas Kennedy's new novel an easy read at first. I can remember picking up A Special Relationship at the airport and within the first two pages being totally hooked. However, with Leaving the World, like the previous reviewers, I found it hard going at first, and I don't mind admitting that a lot of the references to American Literature went completely over my head, which added to the difficulty I had with the first 200 pages.

In some ways, Douglas Kennedy's new novel reminded me of Krzysztof Kieslowski's film, Three Colours - Blue, which tells the story of a grieving widow who, in the face of terrible tragedy, abandons her old life and estranges herself from friends and family in an effort to ensure that life can never hurt her so badly again. However, the difference is that while tragic events befall the heroine in Three Colours - Blue, Jane is let down by almost all of the people who have any importance in her life and the legacy of her parents affects how she ultimately lives her life.

There were times when I wanted to shake Jane and yell at her to change the way she had decided to live and to take the help that is offered to her, which is testimony to Kennedy's skills as a writer to flesh out his characters and to elicit those feelings of empathy in me. There were many times when she could have changed the course of her life but chose not to.

Leaving the World is not, in my opinion, a light-hearted beach read, but its strength lies in the fact that, despite all of us being prey to random forces over which we have no control, there is hope that we can overcome those circumstances.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read but I doubt one person could have this amount of bad luck
Published 1 day ago by Brenda McAleavey
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
great book thoroughly enjoyed
Published 1 month ago by Roy Wallace
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Enjoyed it tremendously as I do most of Kennedy's work.
Published 2 months ago by Mrs. Linda V. Fogler
2.0 out of 5 stars A car crash of a book
I am not used to reading modern novels and I have to say this was a car crash of a book. I know modern books have to be dramatic and fast paced, but this took it to another... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tracey Madeley
5.0 out of 5 stars My all time Favourite author!
I have this book on my Kindle already and I have reviewed it as one of my absolute best authors! Every story brilliantly resonating and fascinating that Douglas is a man who writes... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dr. Ololade Otitoloju (Consignment)
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
A bit dull.
Published 2 months ago by Leilah
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read
Absolutely gripping read, don't usually read fiction but this was a real page turner, every chapter ending on a cliff-hanger, the ending veered off course for me but I can't wait... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Michael F Lyons
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Great book really enjoyed it, gripping story didn't want to put it down, well worth a read :)
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Very sad to leave the book
Despite being a long standing Kennedy fan, some of the more negative reviews persuaded me not to read this when it first came out. I really wish I'd ignored them. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Booklover
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I think more of woman's book than a mans. But the sort of book you look forward to picking up again to see what happens next
Published 5 months ago by Mandy
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