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Notwithstanding: Stories from an English Village Hardcover – 1 Oct 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker; 1st Edition edition (1 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184655330X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846553301
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Louis de Bernières is the best-selling author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Best Book in 1995. His most recent novels are Birds Without Wings and A Partisan's Daughter and a collection of stories Notwithstanding.

Product Description

Review

A timely examination of the charming and, at time, heart-wrenchingly sad aspects of English village life...testament to the rude health of the author's own imagination. (Adam O’riordan Financial Times)

The stories are sketches of lives that settle into the atmosphere of a place and make it unique. (Kate Saunders The Times)

Delightful collection...exquisitely told. (Clare Colvin Daily Mail)

Book Description

A funny and heartbreaking new book from one of Britain's favourite and bestselling writers.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Peter Holdsworth on 30 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is the first book by Louis de Bernieres that I have read since Captain Corelli's Mandolin, and I thought that that was so good that he would not be able to write another book as fine. This is a completely different sort of book but it is outstanding, beautifully written with sympathy, sensitivity and humour. Although it is about an English village, it is more than just that weaving together English village life with laugh out loud comedy, great sadness, wonderful characters, magic, and all sorts of other elements that go to making up the goodness and badness of life. I had not intended to read the book immediately, but I casually picked it up read the first few sentences of the first story and was hooked. Louis de Bernieres reveals great knowledge and acute observation on village life, on everything from gardening clubs to fishing. Through the whole book larger philosophical issues run. Excellent!
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By I Readalot TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An episode of Black Books had Bernard saying the words 'You'll laugh, you'll cry and it will change your life', at last I have found a book I can recommend in that way. I have read most of de Bermieres' books and up until now Birds Without Wings was my favourite. I think the reason I enjoyed this so much is because it is set in a part of England that I know and visited in my childhood. The early stories are hilarious and had me laughing out loud with their celebration of the English Village as it used to be. Later the stories take on a different tone as village life changes, children, whose families have lived there for generations can no longer afford to stay as the 'yuppy' generation forced up house prices. The last 2 stories in particular actually did make me cry. The village and characters became real people for me and I was sorry to say goodbye as I closed the book.

If you are a fan of de Bernieres then you won't be disapointed with this offering and if you haven't read him before then this would be a perfect starting point.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 10 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Notwithstanding is not only the title of Louis De Bernieres latest book it is also really the biggest character in the book. Notwithstanding is a fictional village somewhere in Surrey, England not too far away from the very real Haslemere and Godalming. What the book actually entails is some of the unusual and interesting characters and the stories of what they get up to. It is in fact based on an English village that the author actually lived in when he was younger though this isn't a memoir it's a fictionalised version. It brings to life those English idylls that are very much still out there and celebrates the quirkiness of village life.

The characters are all marvellous in the novel. I say novel but in many ways it reads like a collection of short stories which is what it also is I suppose though characters intertwine with stories and so it comes together as a novel. You have the marvellous mother and son who communicate to each other via walkie talkie... in the same house, Polly Wantage who dresses like a man and spends most of her time out shooting squirrels, several mad dogs, a general who spends most of his time naked, a spiritualist who lives with her sister and ghost of her dead husband and people who confide their biggest secrets with spiders in their garden sheds. It is a huge amount of fun.

Though this isn't just a funny throw away book. Though there is endless humour the book has a real heart, celebrating the ordinary and delighting in the quirky nature of us English folk. The prose is beautiful and makes everything very vivid so in no time I felt like I had newly moved into the village and was `getting to know the neighbours' as it were. I could happily have moved there tomorrow.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Jan. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a pleasant set of short stories from a master storyteller. I usually do not favour the short story genre , but as a fan of Mr. de Bernieres i had to buy it and i am glad that i did. This is not a serious work like Captain Corellis Mandolin or Birds Without Wings. It is more of the whimsical style of Red Dog with a lot of humour and likable, characters from a not so distant past.
It revolves around the inhabitants of the village of Notwithstanding and their inter-relationships. They could be very real people living at a time and in a way worth remembering for their class distinctions, their outmoded values , their amusing eccentricities and their honest decency.
The author uses a clever device whereby these characters make guest appearances in each others stories giving ,although there are about twenty different tales, a nice element of continuity leaving the reader feeling like part of this very rural, very English community.
A very worthwhile read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Janie U VINE VOICE on 14 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
I remember the big sensation created by Captain Corellis Mandolin (although never really got on with it myself) and was curious about Louis de Bernieres latest offering. I originally picked up this book a couple of years ago but didn't get on with it so thought I'd give it another go and am delighted that I did.
The book presents as a series of short stories (over 20) based in and around an English village created from the memories of the authors childhood. They are distinct short stories but the same characters pop up time and time again, often being mentioned briefly in one story then appearing as the main character in a later tale. The links beautifully weave the stories together and give the feeling that you are reading chapters of a complete novel but in manageable chunks.
Characters are a massive part of the book. Although they are all exaggerated and their situations overplayed, they give a wonderful pantomime feel to the book with the drama, pathos and humour all served up in buckets.
I particularly fell in love with the language that LdB uses. It's luxurious and deep, particularly when he is describing ordinary things such as grass or cobwebs. Also worth revelling in is the trivia scattered throughout, usually with no relevance to the plot but adding character and atmosphere. Often the same details appear in several stories, emphasising them but making them no more important to the plot!!
Beautiful tales....
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