- 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)
Nourishment Paperback – 3 Jun 2011
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'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’ GuardianSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have no idea why I chose this book, but it probably had something to do with the ‘Literary Review’ comment on the back cover (“Salty, crunchy, incongruously funny”). Read morePublished 7 months ago by Celia Fife
The story of how a young woman manages during the war and the strange demands of her husband away at war. An amusing and gripping tale.Published 9 months ago by Mary & Chris
Private Donald Midlothian is a prisoner in various German camps throughout the war. Back home his wife Tory, and mother-in-law, known throughout as Mrs Head, are struggling with... Read morePublished on 9 Oct. 2013 by Eileen Shaw
As delectably depraved and darkly humorous as the Jones trilogy (August etc), even if these characters are less wacky and more punished by life. Read morePublished on 22 Aug. 2013 by crookedt
Gerard Woodward has been one of England's most iconoclastic literary authors, rejecting all the polite expectations of writing and society by creating novels that seem, on the... Read morePublished on 24 Oct. 2011 by Mary Whipple
I have read almost all of Gerard Woodward's other books and really thought they were the work of a genius. Read morePublished on 5 Sept. 2011 by emma who reads a lot
This is a gritty novel about survival in wartime austerity. It is saturated in atmosphere - the London Blitz, warwork in sleazy joints,the seedy world of illicit stills, soft... Read morePublished on 16 July 2011 by Mr. D. James
I really enjoyed Woodward's earlier books- a trilogy comprising 'August, 'I'll Go to Bed at Noon' and 'A Curious Earth'. In comparison,'Nourishment ' was a poor, pedestrian read. Read morePublished on 6 Jun. 2011 by N. B. Werner