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Last Orders (Picador 40th Anniversary Edition) (Picador 40th Anniversary Editn) [Paperback]

Graham Swift
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

2 Feb 2012 Picador 40th Anniversary Editn

Last Orders is a much-loved classic of English literature. It won both the 1996 Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In 2001, it was adapted into an award-winning film starring Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins.

Four men once close to Jack Dodds, a London butcher, meet to carry out his peculiar last wish: to have his ashes scattered into the sea. For reasons best known to herself, Jack’s widow, Amy, declines to join them. On the surface the tale of a simple if increasingly bizarre day’s outing, Last Orders is Graham Swift’s most poignant exploration of the complexity and courage of ordinary lives.

In 2012 Picador celebrated its 40th anniversary. During that time we have published many prize-winning and bestselling authors including Bret Easton Ellis and Cormac McCarthy, Alice Sebold and Helen Fielding, Graham Swift and Alan Hollinghurst. Years later, Picador continue to bring readers the very best contemporary fiction, non-fiction and poetry from across the globe.

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Last Orders (Picador 40th Anniversary Edition) (Picador 40th Anniversary Editn) + Waterland
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (2 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447202821
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447202820
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 680,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

From the author of Waterland and Ever After, Last Orders is a quiet but dazzling novel about a group of men, friends since the second world war, whose lives revolve around work, family, the racetrack and their favourite pub. When one of them dies, the survivors drive his ashes from London to a seaside town where they will be scattered, compelling them to take stock of who they are today, who they were before and the shifting relationships in between. Both funny and moving, this won the Booker Prize in 1996. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Inspired... His finest novel yet' Guardian 'Tragic, comic and wonderfully compassionate' Daily Mail 'A triumph... A novel that unflinchingly contemplates human perishability, and that also pays unsentimental tribute to human resilience' Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graham Swift - Last Orders 27 Feb 2010
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
The vernacular is fantastic! A truly wonderful working-class novel, like Love on the Dole or Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, but much much more than that. It's a rumination on death, life, love, parenthood, childhood, work; in other words, the lives that all of us live, everday. I love the switch-and-cut narrative (as good as his Waterland), and, of course, most especially the various narrative voices. The every-day man doesn't need elegies, he has the words and rhythms honed down through generations. It is a perfect, perfect example of how every-day speech can be powerful and beautiful. A wonderful novel, that leaves you at significant risk of being more than significantly moved!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than just a simple story 7 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This is more than just a simple tale of a group of friends taking their friend's ashes to the sea-side. I found it so poignant and moving that I could hardly bear to read the last scene. It's about the big issues in life and how chance can change your whole destiny. It's also about regret and lost opportunities, love and, obviously, death. Each character is beautifully drawn. Ray, the 'lucky' gambler is a 'litte ray of sunshine', Vic, the undertaker, the only one not afraid of death, is the 'Victor' - even the characters' names mean something. It's probably the sort of book you need to read more than once to fully appreciate, but it well deserved the Booker prize and I would recommend it to anyone (as long as you're not expecting to laugh!)
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This was the first title I have read by Graham Swift, but has inspired me to seek out all his other titles. It is a tale of four friends, their intertwined lives and loves, spread over a fifty year period commencing in World War Two. As with all the best books, Last Orders has realistic and human characters in whom readers will take a genuine interest.
The story is ostensibly based around a journey undertaken by three of the men (with a friend) to scatter the the fourth original member's ashes in the sea at Margate. Although similar to Faulkner's 1930 "As I Lay Dying", Swift's novel is none the less a great book in its own right.
If you like novels with strong characterisation and a genuine, touching story, I strongly commend "Last Orders" to you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Skilful but gloomy and slow 21 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Last Orders has received the highest praise. The Guardian and TLS hailed it as Swift's finest book to date; it won the 1996 Booker Prize; it is included in the critic John Carey's list of the fifty most enjoyable books of the 20th century.

The novel concerns a car journey by a quartet of Londoners to carry out the last request of Jack Dodds: to have his ashes scattered into the sea from Margate pier. As the book progresses, the life stories of Jack and the four men are gradually revealed. The structure is rather complex, with seven different voices used, and alternations between the past and present.

You can see why it has attracted such praise. The prose is constructed with great care, the characters come to life and the various locations (a Bermondsey pub, Canterbury Cathedral, Margate) are vividly evoked.

But I found the funereal tone and speed of the book rather oppressive, particularly in the second half. A general sense that life is a disappointing business pervades as we move between hospital and home for the disabled. Meanwhile the quartet inches towards Margate with Jack's ashes in a plastic jar. It's all rather glum.

Swift's earlier book, Waterland, with its less gloomy theme, was for me more enjoyable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Puzzle from Graham Swift 3 Dec 2002
Format:Audio Cassette
Last Orders is a novel that asks the reader to make sense of some of the puzzling actions of the main charactors. It is a story that is related through the consciousness of those main charactors and revolves around the 'last orders' of a Bermondsey butcher regarding the final disposal of his ashes.
Four of his old drinking and business pals accept the responsibility to scatter his ashes from the pier at Margate and the story spans their day from the start in 'The Coach and Horses' to the completion of their task.
His wife, who is also a key charactor in the novel, declines to join the party because she has her own pilgrimage to make to a hospital where their daughter has been a patient for many years. She says that the ashes are bing thrown from the wrong place, anyway.
For me, the secret to the novel, the final piece to the jig-saw puzzle, is understanding why the wife considers that the ashes are being thrown from the wrong place.
The book is full of colour and memories of South East London from war time to the present day, and has humorous and tragic portraits of the main charactors.
I recommend that it must be read at least twice. Only after the whole picture has been seen in the first reading is the full detail understood up in the second and subsequent readings.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, Swift's best 25 Jan 2004
The bad news first: there is enough foundation to point out misogynist traits in Swift's work, but Waterland bothered me much more in this respect than Last Orders. In the latter, there is only Kath, who seems to have resorted to prostitution after her father pressed her to seduce potential buyers for his cars. All the other women are distinctly drawn and have their own minds. Amy, for instance, explicitly decides not to accompany the four blokes to Margate. It's the male characters in the book who have problems with women, not so much Swift this time.
And look how carefully built up the novel is. I, for one, found the frequent changes of point of view one of the novel's strongest points, and not at all distracting. I don't know the first thing about south London or Cockney, but it all rang true for me. Besides, I found it spellbinding to eavesdrop on these working-class men's internal monologues. Last Orders is probably no match for Shakespeare's Hamlet, but both texts feature definitely a lot about death and dying that is worth being told.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Unskilled structuring of dialogue
He said ""
I said ""
He said""
Oh dear! Put off the book within a few pages through the poor way in which dialogue is structured. Read more
Published 9 days ago by John McK
4.0 out of 5 stars On pilgrimage to Margate...
I thoroughly enjoyed the understated beauty of this book. The intertwined lives of a group of friends are explored through their journey to Margate to scatter the ashes of one of... Read more
Published 16 days ago by John Goddard
3.0 out of 5 stars I found it a bit tedious and rather struggled to finish it
Last Orders - Not really my kind of book. I found it a bit tedious and rather struggled to finish it. Although there were Interesting links between the characters.
Published 27 days ago by Avid reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality revisited
A sensitive and unsettling look at life and missed opportunities. A wake up call for every reader to look at what you perseve yourself to be what is real and what self serving... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mrs. Janice Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Accurately observed, well-constructed, beautifully written. The dialogue makes you feel you are actually taking part in the story. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Josef
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow burner.
There are some interesting parts to this book, but I am not finding it riveting. That said, I will finish it...eventually.
Published 6 months ago by Kindle Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful!
Have been reading this for the past 2-3 weeks (our book club choice) and have really struggled with it.Boring and not well written....rubbish.
Published 8 months ago by cashers
2.0 out of 5 stars Good writing but depressing
Initially, I enjoyed the humour of this book but after a time, realised that I was skipping over large sections of it because it was just more of the same. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Miss Elizabeth Patrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Last Orders - Graham Swift
I really enjoyed Last Orders by Graham Swift. It's the story of a group of working men from London carrying out the last wishes of a London butcher Jack Dodds, who wants his ashes... Read more
Published 11 months ago by wordpress/whattoreadnow
4.0 out of 5 stars film first
Had seen the film some time ago. Thought film very good ,indeed slightly better than book,which took awhile to get into because of dialect.
Published 12 months ago by Ms. S. Matchett
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