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Nourishment Paperback – 3 Jun 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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£7.99 FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (3 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330518631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330518635
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 732,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Woodward's slow-burning black comedy is a good yarn, with some fine period detail and a few wonderfully surreal moments.' Guardian < br/>< br/>
'Full of English eccentricity, black farcical comedy and fine phrasing that makes Woodward's writing so moreish.' --Sunday Telegraph

From the Back Cover

‘Woodward’s study of the ways in which we consume ourselves and those we love is surprising – and surprisingly charming – darkly witty and altogether brilliant’ Easy Living The English are an unusual bunch: quirky and eccentric, often reserved and reticent, but always strong and resilient. Tory Pace, the heroine of this beautifully written and hilarious black comedy, is all of these things. Typically, she’s trying to make the best of life in a difficult time: struggling, as only a mother can, to sustain her family in a land starved of nourishment. But like so many triumphs over adversity, her survival comes with a heavy price. Beginning shortly after the outbreak of war and continuing into the deftly drawn austerity years that followed, Woodward offers a generous family saga. Equally memorable for poignant moments of sadness, comic tableau, witty observations and unforgettable characters, Nourishment is a novel like no other – every bit as unique and charming as an English family, in fact. ‘Engrossing and witty . . . a deeply satisfying book – more akin to a filling roast dinner than to some of the gelatinous concoctions currently on the market.’ Times Literary Supplement ‘Salty, crunchy, incongruously comforting’ Literary Review ‘The gifts and facilities of a highly original writer are all on display’ Guardian

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Gerard Woodward writes slightly lurid family sagas. The Jones family in his previous novels had a fondness for drink. In a slight departure, Tory and her mother, Mrs Heads, have a fondness for meat.

Most of Nourishment is set in and shortly after the Second World War and follows Tory's immediate family. At first, Tory, husband Donald is away flighting and her children have been evacuated to the countryside. Tory finds new independence working at the gelatine factory; she embraces the freedoms that are thrust upon her.

Meanwhile, Donald and the children are changed by their various experiences. At least, we assume they are changed. The only reference point is Tory's own memory and there is a possibility that she may have idealized her young family in the face of her immediate privations.

Certainly, when Donald and the children return, they don't slot into any recognizable form of family bliss. Instead, there is an exercise in getting to know one another afresh; of adjustment and adaptation to new circumstances. Donald and Tory and Donald did not have a good war, and they seem determined not to have a good peace either.

The story as it unfolds is a mixture of humour, pathos and slight horror. There's an internal cringe factor that makes one say: "did she really say that?" or "did he really do that?". There is genuine sadness, too, but without ever creating a novel that feels unbearably bleak. It would be wrong to give away the plot details - even though this is not really a plot driven novel. Suffice to say that they inject fresh life just before the current direction gets stale. The real strength, though, is in the creation of slightly cartoonish characters and putting them into the most immaculately depicted settings.

As a final grace, the ending is sublime. Arising from the sadness, the waste and the despair we have a final moment of exquisite hope for the future. And who knows, perhaps for a sequel.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's early on in the London Blitz. Tory Pace is managing at home alone - her husband Donald is missing and probably dead, and her children have been evacuated - and is conscripted to work in a local gelatine factory. Her mother, referred to even by her own daughter as Mrs Head, makes a rather unwelcome return from her country retirement to live with Tory, and takes over the domestic arrangements, scouring the local shops each day to see what she can obtain with their ration coupons. Mrs Head's antagonistic relationship with Mr Dando the butcher is drawn to a close when his shop is bombed out and she salvages (not loots! Mrs Head is not a looter!) a joint of pork embedded in a wall on the opposite side of the street. Or perhaps, as Tory points out once it has been roasted, it isn't pork at all; perhaps it Mr Dando's leg. The meat is eaten anyway, despite any moral qualms.

Soon after, Tory receives a letter from a German Prisoner of War camp - Donald is alive after all, having been captured in North Africa. Her relief is quickly replaced by dismay, when she finds that the bulk of the letter contains a request for her to write a sexually explicit letter by return of post. Tory replies that he can expect her to do no such thing, but the written requests keep coming and become more and more insistent. Although Tory begins to feel that she should grant his request to alleviate his suffering, she lacks the erotic vocabulary to do so until she falls into a sexual relationship with Mr Farraway, the owner of the gelatine factory, who has a penchant for describing aloud the sexual acts they carry out.

This is novel in which sex, death, and food are all irrevocably intertwined.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Living in London with her widowed mother, with her children evacuated to the countryside, and her husband missing in action - presumed dead, a life of quiet austerity has become the norm for Tory. A letter changes everything. Her husband Donald writes that he's in a prisoner of war camp, that he's alive and well and could she send him a dirty letter by return.

Eventually Tory's efforts to fulfil her wifely duties by mail lead to many unexpected consequences. When Donald returns after the war, a difficult and damaged man, there are many threads of pain and lies and unpleasantness to unravel.

Despite the unusual central theme this is a well written tale which unfolds in unexpected ways and leads to a complex of family issues.

Well worth the time you invest.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am very glad I read this book, although I very nearly didn't after reading the blurb on the jacket. It feels to me like whoever wrote the jacket description concentrated on the most sensationalist aspects of the novel - dirty letters! cannibalism! world hunger! - and, consequently, did the author a great disservice as the book is much better, and much more, than that. The fact is that Tory's 'quest' to write these letters takes up a very small part of the book and the exact contents of the dirty letters are never fully disclosed to the reader. The real meat of the story is Gerard Woodward's descriptions of relationships between men and women: between Tory and her husband, Tory and her lover, Tory and her two sons. There are lots of locked doors and barred entrances (Tory is horrified by the suggestion made by a female friend that they should sneak into the men's public lavatory to see what it looks like) and Tory's husband is himself a brick wall, refusing to speak of his time in POW camps. The book takes the idea of women's empowerment during the Second World War, having to work in the factories as their men are shipped out to fight the Nazis, and fashions out of that idea a compelling narrative of a woman trying to find happiness, order and, yes, nourishment in her life.

There are a few missteps: a half-hearted bit of lesbianism brought an (unfavourable) comparison to Sarah Waters' The Night Watch; the manner in which Tory finally rids herself of her husband I found just odd; and the protein pills sub-plot also seemed strangely out of place and I dreaded it whenever the topic came up in the novel.
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