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Lovers and Newcomers Hardcover – 4 Mar 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (4 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007285930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007285938
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.9 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 640,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Acclaim for Rosie Thomas:

'Rosie Thomas writes with beautiful, effortless prose, and shows a rare compassion and a real understanding of the nature of love.' --The Times

'Heart-rending and beautifully written!I read it in one delicious go, tears pouring down my face. You cannot fail to be moved' --Emma Lee-Potter, Express

'A terrific book, beautifully written! Questions about identity, belonging, infidelity, dying and forgiveness make this a very moving study of the human heart.' --Australian Women's Weekly

'Honest and absorbing, Rosie Thomas mixes the bitter and the hopeful with the knowledge that the human heart is far more complicated than any rule suggests.' --Mail on Sunday

'A lush and sweeping voyage of self-discovery' --Eithne Farry, Daily Mail

'Prepare to be dazzled! An epic tale of sisterhood and betrayal.' --Company

'A master storyteller.' --Cosmopolitan

'Thomas's novels are beautifully written. This one is a treat.' --Marie Claire

From the Author

Q&A with Rosie Thomas

What inspired you to write Lovers and Newcomers?

I never find it easy to describe precisely what inspired a novel. Quite often it’s an accretion of half-notions and semi-visualised characters that come together in a specific setting and then demand further attention. I’m highly influenced by places and scenery, and having written several novels with exotic backdrops, I wanted to come back to England. I had spent some time with friends in north Norfolk, and the landscape and weather there, as well as the specific archaeological history, set me thinking. And I had just turned sixty myself, so I wanted to explore some of the experiences and some of the differences of expectation that set baby boomers apart from previous generations reaching that age.

Does life only really begin at sixty or should we relinquish our pasts and concentrate on aging gracefully?
No, life doesn’t begin at sixty. Or not in my experience. Taking stock is a more common response to reaching this milestone, and then (best outcome) trying to live what’s left as gracefully as possible, always in the light of previous hard-won experience. This is what my characters in Lovers & Newcomers are experimenting with. How do you be old, when you’ve got no prior first-hand knowledge of it? But I also wanted a spread of characters of different ages to shed light on this as well – hence the elderly mother with memory loss, and quite a cast of children. One of the problems I had in the writing was in differentiating these subsidiary characters without letting them take over.

Baby boomers are traditionally associated with a rejection of traditional values, affluence and a free spirit – the stereotype being the 60s wild child. How do you think the dynamic of the book would have changed if the collection of women had not shared this past or had met at a later stage in life?
If my three women hadn’t shared significant past experiences, it would have been a completely different book. One of the central themes of the novel is that what we are all left with – after husbands have moved on or died, after children have grown and moved into their own worlds – is our friends, and in particular those old friends who have shared our formative experiences and know our life histories. Can we have a successful relationship with a past lover or should the past always be left in the past? The past is in the past, but it constantly informs the present. Miranda, Polly and the others are continually recalling what has gone before, separately and in their conversations, but they can’t go back to that place. The three women and Colin wouldn’t wish to, either, but both Amos and Selwyn long to be young men again. The Iron Age princess story and Polly’s history of Mead reflect the importance of past-in-present, and Joyce’s defective short-term but pin-sharp long-term memories counterpoint it. At least, that was the intention... Maybe a rekindled affair with a past lover can work (and evidently does, sometimes) but I’d have to say it would be a relationship between four people, including the erstwhile selves, not a simple twosome. So it would be fraught with extra complications, as well as enriched by memories. Selwyn and Miranda, for example, would never have worked as a reconstituted pair. As Miranda knows full well, despite her longings.

Is it significant that the building work reveals an Iron Age burial site of a tribal queen?
Oh yes, definitely. It’s significant first of all that the Princess was a woman, and a powerful tribal leader. Polly, Miranda and Katherine are all struggling in their different ways with individuality and personal expression within marriages and families. Her power – and the treasure that represents it – is an emblem for them. So the loss of the treasure is personal as well as public – as Miranda recognises. Katherine and Chris fall in love at the moment when she puts on the barbaric torc. I also wanted to create a vast, impregnable historical backdrop to set against the passionate but necessarily limited time and events left to my characters. History is l-o-n-g, and that represents a comfort.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Nicola F (Nic) TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
It pains me to say it because I have really enjoyed some of Rosie Thomas' books, but a few of hers I've picked up recently have been real duds (`Sunrise' and `Celebration' being prime examples) and this is another one I'll be adding to that list. I finished it because I believed it would get better, but unfortunately it just didn't. I don't feel like I wasted time though- it just reaffirms that I am going to have to be more selective about which RT books I will pick up in future.

The book revolves around widower Miranda, who after her husbands death remembers something she'd said at university years earlier; that when she and her friends all get old she wants them to live together. With an empty crumbling manor house now at her disposal, it seems the perfect time to act on her words. As she and her five friends settle into their new existence they realise that perhaps it won't be as idyllic as they envisaged...

The underlying impression I got from this book was a bit of a morbid one and that the characters had basically agreed to all buy their respective bits of the house at Mead to get old, stagnate and eventually die there after trying to get back a bit of their youth by reuniting with friends. It felt like it was basically going to become a posh old people's home. But seriously, this just doesn't happen in the real world, does it? Friends all agreeing to live together in a crumbling country house. I struggled to find any depth of realism in this book as well as identify with any of the characters. I just didn't care what happened to any of them, sadly. I also found it really jarring that it switched from Miranda's first person narrative to third person narrative- I would have preferred the story to be recounted in either one voice or the other, but not both.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amanda on 23 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
A big disappointment from this author; I was pleased to get to the end of the book. It is with regret that I find that Rosie Thomas has resorted to the genre of chick-lit - I used to credit her with appealing to a more enlightened audience. None of the characters developed in any interesting depth and the story line was utterly predictable. Real life is just not the way it is described in this book. I shall certainly think twice before purchasing another new title from RT.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cathy T on 26 Feb. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This novel describes a group of people who have been friends since student days, who are now approaching old age with trepidation. The story is told mainly in the third person, but occasionally transfers to the first person when dealing with the thoughts and feelings of one of the characters, Miranda, a former actress. Miranda is a widow, who has inherited a large country home from her much-older husband. She is childless, and rather than face old-age alone, she has invited her friends - two married couples - to buy parts of her property, and to come and live with her. These two couples have plausible reasons to accept, due to events in their own lives, though another friend, a gay man, decides to become purely a frequent visitor.

The story revolves around these people, their families, and various local characters, showing how relationships have a way of going awry, and cannot be planned. However, the feelgood element is that love and friendship win out in the end.

The writer is clearly a talented observer of human beings and human nature, and the characters largely rang true. It is good to read a novel about an aging group of babyboomers who are being forced to confront their own mortality, having started out as hip young things, who had thought they would be masters of their own destinies. However, for me, the book was far too long, and I became bored. In addition, I was able to forecast some elements of the plot, and it was all a bit too neat and homely for me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L A Walker on 22 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm 60+, lived through the days of free love and Afghan coats, so was delighted by this book in which a group of lifetime friends decide to join together to make their homes in the grounds of the big house belonging to one of them. Descriptions of their past paint vivid pictures of my own, and the story, as it unfolds, is intriguing with lots of unexpected twists in the relationships between the original six people plus the others that come into their lives.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. D'Souza on 31 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
The concept for this story - friends reunited in later life after varied experiences - appealed to me, but unfortunately the story failed to satisfy. A huge cast of characters meant I found it hard to care deeply about any of them and the narration often skipped away from the storyline I wanted to follow.

There is some lovely descriptive writing, and emotional insight. But ultimately the ranging narration and lack of any real dramatic tension or in depth exploration of the conflicts left me disappointed. There is some first person narrative from Miranda, but as her voice is similar to that of the rest of the narration which gets into everyone else's thoughts, I wasn't sure why it was included. There were other characters I'd have preferred to spend more time with.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By marcy brown on 14 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
i actually found this book quite annoying. i finished it only because i was hoping it would get better. the characterizations were really stereotypical and the men ,particularly selwyn, unbelievably unappealing. having enjoyed, white, the potters house and iris and ruby so much,i expected something better
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