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Ludmila's Broken English [Hardcover]

DBC Pierre
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

2 Mar 2006

DBC Pierre's second novel charts the unlikely meeting between East and West that follows Ludmila Derev's appearance on a Russian brides website. Determined to save her family from starvation in the face of marauding Gnez troops, Ludmila's journey into the world and womanhood is an odyssey of sour wit, even sourer vodka, and a Soviet tractor probably running on goat's piss.

Thousands of miles to the West, the Heath twins are separated after 33 years conjoined at the abdomen. Released for the first time from an institution rumoured to have been founded for an illegitimate child of Charles II, they are suddenly plunged into a round-the-clock world churning with opportunity, rowdy with the chatter of freedom, democracy, self-empowerment and sex.

A wild and raucous picaresque dripping with flavours of British bacon and nasty Russian vodka, Ludmila's Broken English is a tale of tango-ing twins on a journey into the unknown. A ride so outrageously improbable it just may happen, DBC Pierre's second novel confirms his place in the ranks of today's most original storytellers.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition, First Impression edition (2 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571215181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571215188
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 16.2 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 995,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"'Expect the baroque. Expect slapstick and speed, funny and obscene, and a near-gorgeous overwrite out of which come occasional moments of shocking loss and beauty... It's a gothic vision of post-Blakeian Albion let loose in the world, a racy, rancid, overblown indictment as its hugely likeable heroine from the East, whose spirit, not broken at all, is full of righteous fury.' Ali Smith, Sunday Telegraph 'Pierre's gift for comic ventriloquism is as dazzling as ever.' Tim Lott, Evening Standard" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

On a Tuesday in terror-struck London, Blair and Bunny Heath became the first adult conjoined twins ever successfully separated.

On a Tuesday in the war-torn Caucasus, Ludmila Derev killed her grandfather.

By the 11th of December, they had something very much in common.

Enter a snakes-and-ladders world of liberal and conservative high jinks in this dark tale of desire, bullets, globalisation, and the full English breakfast.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very hit and miss....caution advised. 11 Dec 2006
By Mookie
Format:Paperback
It's a poor follow-up to Vernon God Little, and the majority of it's readers will be drawn to it on the basis of that debut novel.

I concur with most of the other reviewers here. DBCP creates two seperate vignettes - one centred around a peasant family in a former Soviet Republic, the other around two UK twins born cojoined and since separated. Both vignettes show early promise, with the relentless bickering of the Heath siblings in particular rousing one or two belly-laughs. Unfortunately DBCP pretty much runs out of steam on both strands before a third of the novel has passed. The middle third of the novel is a tired rehash of what's gone before, with neither vignette going anywhere fast. This leads to a contrived and rushed final third where DBCP tries (and fails) to tie the whole lot together in a satisfactory and credible manner.

It ain't really worthy of 3 stars, though i was reluctant to give it a mere 2. Some of the early dialogue will amuse many, while DBCP's sharp use of the similie remains often inspired, though at times overcooked. The Heath twins provide most of the smiles, with the peasant family vignette providing some early Borat-esque laughs before rapidly outstaying it's welcome.

Coming 3 years after the inspired Vernon God Little we could've expected better. Here's hoping DBCP's future releases offer us more.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unconvincing mismash of undeveloped ideas 7 July 2006
Format:Hardcover
Anyone thinking of buying this on the strength of "Vernon God Little" should be prepared to be disappointed. The book does display some of the author's undeniable talents: originality of thought, punchy writing style (especially in dialogue) and some elements of fabulous characterisation. The problem is the book just doesn't "hang together" as a whole.

The story telling flits between two main plotlines: one (and by far the more developed, despite the book's title) concerns separated siamese twins Blair and Bunny in the UK; the other concerns Ludmilla and her family in a former Soviet backwater. One of the big problems with the book is that it is not clear what, if anything, is the relationship between these two plotlines until perilously late on in the book. By the time they do have a meeting of sorts it all seems terribly contrived and rushed and, I'm afraid, entirely unconvincing. The overall impression is of a "first draft" which the author has not quite had time to tidy up.

All of which is a great shame, because, as mentioned above, the book does have its moments. In particular DBC does not disappoint in providing moments of laugh-out-loud humour and his caustic allegories in particular on New Labour, the media, the NHS and modern "culture" all hit home, sometimes painfully so. This is why its so sad that the vehicle for these messages - the plotline - has unfortunately "lost the plot".

All in all, it might be a book worth taking on holiday for a bit of light relief from time to time, so long as you are aware that Vernon God Little is in a completely different league.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I only read the reviews of Ludmila's Broken English after I had finished the book and when I was formulating the review for it, which seem to go against the grain, I almost found myself mentally justifying my ability to review this book by the other books I have read, almost a way of convincing myself I hadn't just missed the point of the whole thing through a poor knowledge of literature or inordinate bad taste. Thankfully though I thought this through and realised how ridiculous it is - frankly I just didn't really like the book, there is nothing wrong in that.

The book is split between two stories that ultimately converge together, which for me happens far too late in the book to have any impact. By the time the two threads are intertwined I felt all the various elements of the story were being rushed to finish in fewer than 320 pages, if it had been allowed to blossom then maybe it would have recovered.

The first story follows Bunny and Blair, conjoined twins who after 33 years finally have the operation they should have had soon after their birth - and are surgically removed from one and other. After such a time Blair and Bunny are both wildly reliant on each other and one thing that DBC Pierre does do so well is to write this relationship with all its latent animosity, anger and love. I found this element of the book to be the far superior, both Bunny and Blair had me laughing out loud at times but it also wonderfully emphasised the appalling treatment these twins have had to suffer in their lives.

The second story is told from the perspective of Ludmila and her family in the war torn region of Ublilsk - this is the side of the story I felt was less relevant although equally well told but it's just not a great story.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I only read the reviews of Ludmila's Broken English after I had finished the book and when I was formulating the review for it, which seem to go against the grain, I almost found myself mentally justifying my ability to review this book by the other books I have read, almost a way of convincing myself I hadn't just missed the point of the whole thing through a poor knowledge of literature or inordinate bad taste. Thankfully though I thought this through and realised how ridiculous it is - frankly I just didn't really like the book, there is nothing wrong in that.

The book is split between two stories that ultimately converge together, which for me happens far too late in the book to have any impact. By the time the two threads are intertwined I felt all the various elements of the story were being rushed to finish in fewer than 320 pages, if it had been allowed to blossom then maybe it would have recovered.

The first story follows Bunny and Blair, conjoined twins who after 33 years finally have the operation they should have had soon after their birth - and are surgically removed from one and other. After such a time Blair and Bunny are both wildly reliant on each other and one thing that DBC Pierre does do so well is to write this relationship with all its latent animosity, anger and love. I found this element of the book to be the far superior, both Bunny and Blair had me laughing out loud at times but it also wonderfully emphasised the appalling treatment these twins have had to suffer in their lives.

The second story is told from the perspective of Ludmila and her family in the war torn region of Ublilsk - this is the side of the story I felt was less relevant although equally well told but it's just not a great story.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars read this book after lights out in wonderland
I read this 5 years after Vernon and shortly after Lights Out and I think that many of the reviews here prove that this book shouldn't be read hot on the heels of Vernon, and... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Sean Slippers
5.0 out of 5 stars A stellar piece of work, a dark journey, a story of few smiles
I first heard of DBC Pierre on a strange documentary show. It showed you his life and had descriptions of his first book "Vernon God Little". Read more
Published 20 months ago by D. Gallacher
5.0 out of 5 stars V good
This book is weird - at first I wondered why the style was a bit weird, but then I got what Pierre was aiming for with his language and it all made sense. Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2012 by rageintothenight
1.0 out of 5 stars one of the worst books I've ever read
Unfortunately I have a compulsion to finish every book I start, so in the case of this, even though it took me four weeks, in fits and starts, I eventually finished it. Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2011 by joe
4.0 out of 5 stars Are you having a lend?
It is difficult not to laugh sourly in the po-faces of the home-counties "literati" that have written so many weasly lines of self-congratulation regarding their aloof... Read more
Published on 27 Jun 2011 by Behan
5.0 out of 5 stars Pierre, genius
Ludmilla's broken English.

Only the third book that I've read three times.
And in the power of three I present: Jonathan Swift, John Kennedy Toole and DBC... Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2009 by C. Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars farkin fantastic
some mixed reviews for this, but I thought it was thoroughly fun and wonderful. i lost patience with the alternating chapter format early on and switched to just reading the... Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2009 by James Winter
4.0 out of 5 stars I mean to say
I didn't buy this on the strength of VGL so perhaps that's why i was not at all disappointed by this wonderfully zany tale of disparate people and worlds colliding. Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2008 by Kiran Booker
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad, But Not Vernon.
At first I thought I'd missed the point of this story because I'd started it on a long-haul flight, and so was mentally not at 100%. Read more
Published on 24 July 2008 by T. Watson
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Vernon GL but worth a read
My simple analysis for this read is :

Vernon GL = 10 (at least) irresitably genuine belly laugh moments
Ludmilla = 1 (the fart line :-)

The ending is... Read more
Published on 7 May 2008 by Si
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