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My Life in Orange [Paperback]

Tim Guest
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Jan 2005
Imagine growing up with 200 mothers and 200 fathers. What would it feel like to dress entirely in orange? What would it be like to grow up in a commune with daily chants, meditation and muesli on the menu? What would it be like to swap your mother for a new orange family? Written in unsentimental prose this is the deliciously funny, and by turns, poignant story of a little boy alone in a house full of orange people.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; New edition edition (20 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862077207
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862077201
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 359,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘An uplifting and closely observed memoir’ -- The Observer

‘Guest’s poignant reconstruction is an eye-opening story of an extraordinary upbringing’ -- Sunday Times

‘Hilarious and heartbreaking story' -- The Times

‘Hilarious and shocking...a remarkably level-headed assessment of what drove his parent’s generation to seek an alternative way of life’ -- Guardian

‘Intriguing and often humorous mix of straightforward 1980s nostalgia and cult delusion…often absorbing and always astute’ -- Irish Times

About the Author

Tim Guest writes for the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. He lives in London.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I have photographs of my mother leading a commune parade down Fleet Street. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible!!! 13 Feb 2004
By Ele
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's hard to write a review for this book: it's very different from anything I had read before (amd I am a bit of a bookworm!!). In fact, I don't normally go for authobiographies at all... However, I decided to buy this book as I was intrigued by its subject matter. It certainly looked like Tim Guest had one of the most bizarre childhood... Other Amazon reviewers seemed very impressed with the book so I bought it on impulse. And, I am so glad did. This book is amazing... The experiences and traumas that the young Tim went through are told with such sensitivity. And it's unbelievable how he can tackle what must have obviously been painful memories without any trace of a judgemental or self-pitying attitude. And this guy is approximately my own age... WOW! What an accomplishment... Well done Tim!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book 3 Feb 2004
Set against a backdrop of the delirium of the early eighties--rebellion against "capitalism" and the "nuclear family", free love and corruption--the story follows his mother's own troubled quest for enlightenment at the price of her child. What's unusual about this poignant and incidentally hilarious search is that the story has a successful, hard-won resolution. This moving, funny and fascinating book is truly a remarkable debut. Guest writes with an articulate and deeply touching voice, weaving his personal story and photos with a thoroughly well researched account of the rise of this 'alternative' community. A must read for any parent, child or aspiring cult leader.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Jezza
In the early 1980s I lived in Swiss Cottage, and there was a sanyassid 'health club' (described briefly in this book) up the road, so there were lots of maroon-clad people in the neighborhood. I had a strong and not entirely rational dislike of them, which I couldn't entirely explain. With hindsight we can see that there was a nastiness at the centre of the Bagwan's empire, but I didn't really know about that then. I think it was the way in which the cult took the things that I believed in (communal living, renunciation of materialism, "liberation") and turned them around into their opposite. So it was OK for the Big B to have gold-plated Rolls Royces, and other cult members had to like that to show how they'd moved beyond materialism. Liberation and freeing yourself from control meant being subject to the arbitrary control of the cult's apparatchiks, who could send you around the globe to another commune with or without your children, order you to break up a relationship with someone you loved and who loved you -- in the name of love, of course.

Tim Guest's book describes all this, from the perspective of a child of someone who was initially highly regarded by the cult, but who later fell from grace and was punished for it. Some of the stories are really quite nasty - the Oregon ranch seems to have been awash with guns, homeless people from across America were invited in as 'friends' and then given tranquilisers in their food, the cult spread salmonella in restaurants in the nearby town.

This is a rather upsetting but moving book - the more so because some of the people who joined the cult seem to have been quite nice and to have done so for what must have seemed like good reasons.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what a great book 3 Jan 2004
By A Customer
I bought this book yesterday as a totally random choice, I just wanted to say that I thought this book was a great read, some parts made me feel sad but I think the authors sense of humour countered this beautifully. If you too have come upon this book by chance and are reading through the reveiws to try and decide whether it is worth a read, buy it!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book on many levels 30 Jan 2004
By A Customer
This book is truly delightful. Yet also thought provoking and touching. The story of a young boy losing his home and mother and their rediscovery of each other is beautifully written without a trace of self pity and with much compassion. Then there is the story of the commune of Osho Rajneesh. Again wonderfully described with evocative stories that communicate the feeling of it all far more than any simple factual description ever could. Though Tim Guest also weaves into the story the dramatic events of the rise and fall of a religion, and this too is fascinating to read. And then there is the wider story for us all connected with hope and disappointment, loss and rediscovery, suffering and its redemption through love. You will not regret buying and reading this book! I loved it and having read it promptly began to read it again. And it was just as good if not better the second time!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it's as orange as you like! 18 Feb 2004
By A Customer
Loved it. Read this one through from cover to cover in two days! Tim's story of growing up in a commune though somehow still growing up in isolation is very moving - there were points when I laughed, became very angry and felt desparately sad. that said, I was always impressed by the way the authour avoided self pity, and delivered a witty narrative that kept me involved until the last page.
go buy it - it's very good
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Books about the 70s and 80s 24 Aug 2011
Of all the books available that exlore the dark underbelly of the quest for peace and love, Tim Guest's account gets right to the bone. The chilling story is made especially poignant by its accurate reference to real events and the movements and developments of the Shree Rajneesh Ashram as it moved and spread in the 70s and 80s.
There are victims and heroines in any life story yet it is difficult to decide which side of the fence each charcter of Guest's story occupies. In a sense, the post-war generation, and their off-spring, seem destined to fail in their quest to change the world and yet compelled, nonetheless to try.
If the worst possible harm can be done with the best possible intentions, Tim Guest's 'My Life in Orange' shows us just how.
Cherry Coombe
Author of ORANGE.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
A fascinating read for anyone who's ever been interested in communes, orange people, and the desire to change the world. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Karen Parsons
3.0 out of 5 stars BOUGHT AS A
Bought as a gift for Xmas so unable to review. It was on their list so I assume they liked it!
Published 17 months ago by Paul housego
1.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing
After reading many books on the theme of religion/self help/communes, I must say that this book was a dissapointment. Read more
Published on 20 Oct 2010 by Southampton girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I have been putting off writing this review - I have read the book twice and keep dipping into it. When I picked it up last time in August I noticed in the news that it's author,... Read more
Published on 12 Jan 2010 by Pilipala
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastically evocative
great book. simple premise - how tim spent most of his childhood living in an increasingly bizarre cult. Read more
Published on 1 Aug 2009 by M. Young
2.0 out of 5 stars An opportunity missed
I grabbed this book with both hands and rushed to the till - couldnt get the money out of my hands fast enough. Read more
Published on 25 July 2006 by William Oliver
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking evocation of loneliness
A friend asked me to read this book to understand something of what it can be like to be raised by idealists. It broke my heart. Read more
Published on 6 Oct 2005 by Mr. Richard E. Ashcroft
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
I feel rather mean writing a critical review - the author obviously had a difficult childhood - but my genuine reaction to this book is one of disappointment. Read more
Published on 12 April 2005 by ianbrown8
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice study of a weird childhood
One of the defining elements of this book is the neutral tone in which it is written. Judgements are left to the reader. Read more
Published on 25 Oct 2004 by Mr. F. Ledwidge
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