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So Many Ways to Begin Paperback – 7 May 2007

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Frequently Bought Together

So Many Ways to Begin + This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You + If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (7 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747585970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747585978
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 92,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jon McGregor is the author of the critically acclaimed If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways to Begin. He is the winner of the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award, and has been twice longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He was born in Bermuda in 1976. He grew up in Norfolk and now lives in Nottingham. Even the Dogs is his third novel.

(Photo credit: Neil Bennet)

Product Description

Review

`A close reading of ordinary lives ... tender and often
beautifully poetic' -- Stephanie Merritt, Observer

`Both compelling and convincing. A deeply rewarding read, serious
and often beautiful' -- Good Book Guide

`McGregor is a brilliant prose stylist, and here he excels at
making the provincial and the ordinary seem extraordinary' -- Sunday Times

`This is a wonderful novel; low-key but beautifully paced,
scattered with extraordinarily intense moments' -- Tom Boncza-Tomaszewski, Independent on Sunday

`This is an unforgettable novel' -- David Isaacson, Daily Telegraph

From the Publisher

Jon McGregor was shortlisted in the Best Newcomer category in
the 2004 British Book Awards and is winner of the Betty Trask Award and the
Somerset Maugham Prize. So Many Ways to Begin was longlisted for the 2006
Man Booker Prize.

Inside This Book

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By JH on 4 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
Having been utterly captivated by Jon McGregor's prose style in 'If nobody speaks of remarkable things', I opened 'So many ways to begin' with delicious anticipation. It does not disappoint. Whilst it does not have the instant panache of the beginning pages of his first novel, it beguiles and builds in a different way. The story of David Carter's journey through life works its way to and fro through memorabilia, building an intimate portrait of his marriage,his childhood passions and his not so brilliant career, and his search for his real birth mother. McGregor's prose is beautiful,poetic. I particularly enjoyed the interposing of alternative thoughts and behaviours that may or may not have happened, at key moments. They make you pause and consider, without stopping the flow of narrative or feeling heavy-handed. A lovely, lyrical book about everyday life.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Sam J. Ruddock on 13 May 2007
Format: Paperback
I loved Jon McGregor's critically acclaimed debut so it was with nervous excitement that I awaited this follow-up. It is a different book: meandering but with the same clarity of expression which made `If Nobody Speaks...' such a privilege to read. The story follows Museum-Curator and adopted son David Carter through the course of his life. It is at once a paean to forgotten times and a celebration of the course of post-war British history. Through mementos from his life, David gradually integrates the past with the present and carries the reader along with the persistent tug of time. In many ways it reminded me of John Banville's Booker winning novel `The Sea'. It has that same longing, the same concepts of remembering and forgetting. But this is a superior novel. Jon McGregor is effortlessly poetic; this is easy-to-read and full of everyday occurrences rendered with the author's razor-sharp observation. Jon McGregor is an emerging gem of an author and this book will see his reputation continue to rise.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Jun. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Proof that 'If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things' was no one-off (how could writing that good possibly be a fluke), 'So Many Ways to Begin' again deals with ordinary people leading ordinary lives, but bearing the weight of events in the past that deeply mark their lives. The style is again fractured in time, non-linear, but through its analogy of a museum of mementos, it slowly and simply builds up a solid, authentic and deeply moving exhibit of family-life in post-war Britain.

For David, a young man in Coventry who has always dreamed of being a museum curator, a structured life where everything can be organised, labelled and its provenance traced, the discovery that he has been adopted as a child upsets the stable view he once had of the world. The author contrasts David's relationship with loving parents who aren't his own with his wife Eleanor's strict upbringing in Aberdeen, and charts the emotional journey both of them have to make together to understand who they are and how their upbringing has shaped their lives.

McGregor's prose is deceptively simple, but bears deep emotional force in those well-chosen words and situations, raising them to the level of pure artistry, forging poetic and subtle resonances to social behaviour and familial relationships, to the secrets people keep, the emotional weights they carry, and the impact they have on their lives and on those of the people around them.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Todd on 27 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've just finished the book and I have to say its the best one I've read in a while. It follows the story of David who was given up for adoption during the war and finds out by accident when he is in his twenties. It's a story about his beautiful romance with his wife and their family life together and also a story of their relationships with their parents. David's anger at his adoptive parents for deceiving him and his search for his natural mother are beautifully written and gripping. His wife, Eleanor and her volatile relationship with her mother that she cannot wait to escape and the effects it has on her in later life are truly heartbreaking.

A beautiful story, it had me crying at stages, though by no means is it depressing. You really get to identify with the characters and feel for them and I really felt involved in the story. The main theme of the book is family life, in all the different ways it happens, but I think my favourite parts were those about David and Eleanor's relationship over the years.

I have loved both of the authors book, this one is much easier to read and a far more gripping story. I intend to read any other books he writes. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Heartwarming and a very positive book, a really lovely, well written story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Leyla Sanai on 24 Jan. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Jon McGregor - So Many Ways To Begin

Anyone who enjoyed Jon McGregor's debut If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things would probably also like his follow up, So Many Ways To Begin.

If Nobody Speaks... was notable for its dreamy, poetic tone and the way the story unfolded in shards like a broken plate being pieced together in no particular order. So Many Ways... also follows a non chronological path and has a similar ethereal quality.

The story centres on David Carter, a museum curator born in 1945. At the start of the story, he is disillusioned and restless, on a quest although the reader doesn't know quite what he is searching for. In the opening chapter it becomes apparent that David has just returned from a funeral, one that his wife Eleanor did not attend. Why she did not becomes another strand of the story.

The novel unfolds in an unconventional way: David is about to set off on a trip and he is sifting through his collection of mementos. Each chapter centres around one of these, the reader transported back to the time when the object in question was obtained. In between, we shift to the present again in 2000, where David is making arrangements for his journey.

McGregor's style is again other-worldly and lyrical, his sentences flowing with a soft rhythm that belies their external simplicity. Some of the story concerning Eleanor's past is told as conjecture from David's point of view, which adds a hazy, misty element: this happened, or this, or this, as the narrative follows the possible options of people's reactions from a past he is guessing at.
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