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Lilian's Story

Lilian's Story [Kindle Edition]

Kate Grenville
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Product Description


A stunning first novel. Intensely imagined and original. -- Observer

This novel is bound for glory: it is original, moving, and
brilliantly convincing.
-- Vogue

Product Description

'Dazzling fiction of universal appeal' Patrick White

'A work of considerable beauty and power...told with great honesty and virtuosity.' - New York Times Book Review

This is the story of Lilian Singer, born on 'a wild night in the year of Federation' into a stifling household which totally fails to subdue her.

Madness, cruelty and sexuality permeate the household but Lilian's sights are set on education, love and - finally - her own transcendent forms of independence.

Lilian Singer is, or becomes, that rare being: an eccentric true to her own self whose story reaches out to touch and delight the most discerning reader. She radiates energy and vitality through every page of this striking work. Lilian's Story is the most loved and enduring of Kate Grenville's fictional creations.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 403 KB
  • Print Length: 221 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (21 Jun 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1741754909
  • ISBN-13: 978-1741754902
  • ASIN: B0057L7NWA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #93,168 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique, provocative, and worth a read! 19 Dec 2007
By Suzie
This is an extraordinary book, with a unique central character, Lilian Una Stringer who is also the narrator. Lilian is born to privileged parents in early twentieth century Australia but fails to live up to her father's expectations and eventually suffers his abuse and his devastating fury. Her mother meanwhile wiles away her hours with a stopwatch, timing the ferries that plough across the bay.

As a child, Lilian is an unappealing protagonist to the extent that I found myself wondering why I was bothering to read about her. But there was something compelling about her story and the unusual way in which she told it. She is outrageous, warm, lonely, and, beneath the apparently impregnable exterior, highly sensitive and longing for approbation from her fellow beings. Towards the end of the book I grew more and more fond of her and began worrying about how her days would end.

Kate Grenville's prose is described on the cover as 'breathtaking' - one of the reasons I bought the book as I love beautifully crafted, poetic writing. For the most part this does not fall into that category - some sentences even struck me as clumsy and contrived. Nevertheless the author's use of language is almost as unique as the heroine herself and will appeal to anyone interested in the way language is used and appreciative of an unusual style.

At the early stages of the book I remember thinking that this was only a two-star read. but as I became more and more absorbed my assessment changed to three and finally four stars. It's unusual, provoking, and certainly worth a read. Buy it and give it a try!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars liberation takes many forms 23 Sep 2007
By Dreamer
For me this is the sort of book which needs to be read over a relatively short period of time. It's not the kind to put down for a couple of weeks then pick up again. The narrator introduces and develops streams of thought throughout the book and it would be easy to lose these threads, and as a result much of the novel's impact.

The narrator, Lilian Una Singer, who is also the central character in the novel, is both frustrating and admirable. To begin with I found as a reader that I wanted her to take charge of doing something about those parts of her life which made her different, and an unhappy misfit. Gradually, however, I began to realise that many of her actions and reactions were quite deliberate, and later on in her life it was these very characteristics which liberated her - a liberation which she took great pleasure in flaunting at a society controlled by petty constraints. She came to relish the effect she had on others, unravelling their sense of what was right and normal. In the end she achieved her own version of immortality.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a different look at a bag lady 28 Mar 2011
By Cloggie Downunder TOP 500 REVIEWER
Lilian's Story is Kate Grenville's first novel. Lilian Una Singer was born on the first day of 1900 and we follow her life's journey through childhood, maturity and into older age. Grenville weaves a tale around a figure whom all of us have encountered and probably tried to avoid (and whom some of us may even encounter daily), the "bag lady", the mad woman who seems to talk to herself in the street or on the bus/train/tram. She presents a highly plausible history for Lilian which helps explain how an eccentric young woman from a middle-class family becomes a Shakespeare-quoting bag-lady. Along the way, we watch Sydney changing during Federation, two World Wars and a Depression. Lilian tries to make her own decisions in life and ultimately brings a sort of happiness to others by being the type of person they can look at, remark upon and tell their own stories about. Grenville's descriptions are vivid; her characters, compelling and convincing; her dialogue, credible. Perhaps Lilian's Story will make the reader look at the eccentric bag-people in another light. An excellent read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting exploration of some dark corners. 4 May 2013
By Bookie TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This amazing story is based, albeit loosely, on fact; the life of an eccentric 'bag lady' in Sydney who recited Shakespeare for a living. It starts in 1900 with Lilian's birth into a middle class Australian household. Her father has dark secrets and something's not right with mother! Through Lilian's eyes and ears, the reader is taken on a life journey which defies belief. She is well educated, goes to university for a while and develops a couple of close friendships. But a downward spiral of events see her committed for many years before being rescued by n alcoholic aunt and returning to a much changed world.

I really like Kate Grenville's writing. Her characters have their own voice and much of her narrative has a beautifully lyrical quality. But at the same time, it's firmly grounded. Lilian's ability to overcome adversity is striking. She's a character full of contradiction and one whose life was lived, in the main, outside the bounds of normality. Those whose lives touched hers are equally well portrayed adding multi layers to the story and issues raised. A truly enjoyable read, despite some of the difficult topics covered. Its a remarkable tale, well told and I'm looking forward to reading the prequel, 'Dark Places'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully moving story - please read! 26 Jun 2011
By Jen
Format:Kindle Edition
I can't understand why there are no other reviews of this book. I loved The Secret River, my first Kate Grenville book, and was keen to read another. I was not disappointed, as I enjoyed this even more. It is a very moving story, written in the first person by Lil Singer, not blessed with beauty, tormented by her cruel and controlling father, but who became one of those wonderful eccentrics, who lived her own life, her own way. I felt at times so sorry for her 'lot', but most of the time felt in awe of her courage in the face of adversity. If you haven't read this yet, please do - you will not be disappointed either.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I can't make up my mind
I purchased this because I read " An Idea of Perfection" and thought it one of the finest books I'd ever read. I'm afraid I never connected in the same way with "Lilllian". Read more
Published 12 days ago by M. Beetham
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of the best books I have ever read
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Having lived in Australia just after this period I can assure any reader that Kate Grenville has captured a facet of Australian... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kenneth James Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Loved this book. It's funny, poignant and the character of Lilian is so well drawn. Very thought provoking too. Read more
Published 6 months ago by phoenix
2.0 out of 5 stars Not For Me!
One of the worst books I've read, and I've read thousands! Difficult to folow, boring, badly written, what else can I say.
Published 9 months ago by Sue Bromley
4.0 out of 5 stars Very different
The approach to this story is very different to the average novel, the premise being that the end is known and the author is attempting to fill in the back story. Read more
Published 10 months ago by A. K. Carlton
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating but unnerving
I always enjoy books by Kate Grenville and this was no exception. However, this book was somehow harder to read than others she has written. Read more
Published 11 months ago by W. Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, moving story
I have read a number of Kate Grenville's books, but none of the others around this story, so I read it as a stand alone and really liked it. Read more
Published 12 months ago by jellyhead
3.0 out of 5 stars Experimental narrative...not for lovers of a good tale
I read Dark Places before this and found the retelling from Lilian's viewpoint repetitious and too strung out. Read more
Published 12 months ago by susan anne wood
2.0 out of 5 stars I think this was an early book by Kate Grenville. She improves with...
It was interesting to read in the preface about how this book came about but I still couldn't finish it. I didn't engage with the characters. Read more
Published 14 months ago by dizzylizzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart wrenching novel
Kate Grenville is a wonderful writer. Her characters are well developed and utterly credible. This book is both heart- wrenchingly tragic whilst also being inspiring and uplifting. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Hilary Farmer
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