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Paradise [Paperback]

A.L. Kennedy
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 8.43 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 Aug 2005

Almost forty and with nothing to show for it, Hannah Luckraft is starting to notice that her lifestyle is not entirely sustainable: her subconscious is turning against her, her soul is a little unwell. Her family is wounded, her friends are odd, her body is not as reliable as it once was and her drinking is frankly out of hand. Robert, a dissolute dentist, appears to offer a love she can understand, but he may only be one more symptom of the problem she must cure. From the north-east of Scotland to Dublin, from London to Montreal, to Budapest and onwards, Hannah travels in search of the ultimate altered state: the one where she can be happy - her paradise.

Paradise is a compelling examination of failure that is also a comic triumph, a novel of dark extremes that is full of the most ravishing lyrical beauty.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (4 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099433494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099433491
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 202,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The book sings its encapsulated pain with the effervescent energy of laughter" (The Times)

"One of Britain's most iconoclastic and fiercely independent talents, a writer who repeatedly tests our expectations... Compelling, even consuming" (Daily Telegraph)

"This is a narrative that will not let the reader go - One of the most linguistically inventive and captivating British writers of the age" (Observer)

"A stylist of the highest order" (Financial Times)

"Gripping... Stylistically consummate" (Sunday Times)

Book Description

'A brave and uncompromising book that lingers in the mind, Paradise is A. L. Kennedy on top form' Independent

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars As dull as a real drunk 15 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase

AL Kennedy's "Paradise" is hard going. The central character is Hannah, an alcoholic woman trapped in a spiral of self-justification and self-loathing, whose attempts to get out of the hole she is in are destined to be thwarted by her relationship with another alcoholic, Robert, a dentist. Kennedy invests Hannah with her considerable resources of wit - the author makes regular appearances as a stand-up at Edinburgh - but despite this she is not good company.

The circularity means that there is little in the way of plot (as opposed to incident). A period drying out comes to nothing; she loses her job; egged on by Robert she goes on a binge which brings hallucinations and annihilates her personality. Except it doesn't, because always there is this highly articulate first-person narrator talking into your ear. The process of getting drunk is a process of liquefaction, but Hannah remains always and inevitably razor-sharp. Although this does allow Kennedy to get a kind of dual perspective on the flawed narrator, cheerily insisting she's in great shape while wetting her knickers, this contradiction also invests the whole novel with a curious artificiality, as if the author is in it for the exhibitionist exercise.

How long can anyone take being buttonholed by a drunk, however intelligent and funny, in a bar? Personally I'd give it about half an hour, and certainly not 350 pages. Members of my book club felt the same - we gave it an average of 2 stars.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Running out of steam? 30 Jan 2005
By G. L. Haggett VINE VOICE
I am a huge fan of A.L. Kennedy's writing, and this book does not let down anyone familiar with her other work, in that it exhibits the same imaginative, intricate and innovative use of language we have come to expect.
My only caveat is that the book seemed to run out of steam (no pun intended regarding the fact that the scene is a train) about 50 pages from the end; was that perhaps the effect of the claustrophobic world she had created?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable 26 Feb 2013
Brilliantly enters the reality of the hardened drinker and the way that addiction can have a quality like doomed romantic love. Takes you to a place where that makes sense and feels right. Is also searingly funny. And desperately sad. Like life is sometimes.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle and funny 9 Aug 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this. Considering that the 'voice' of the book comes from a woman who is almost consistently drunk, it is tremendously clear and easy to read. I love the way the novel has a looping quality, not just tiresomely darting here and there, more like a sort of chain stitch structure, always driving the story forward from start to finish, so (after the first chapter)it is absolutely clear where we are in the story. It's witty, clever, insightful, fascinating about alcoholism, and, above all, funny. I did think the last tenth of the book dragged a little - people's hallucinations are as dull to read about as their dreams. But she had stored up so much of this reader's goodwill by then that I didn't mind.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading 13 Jan 2005
Alison Kennedy's use of English is original, always interesting and at times spectacular. I found myself reading the occasional paragraph aloud to who ever would listen. She manages to lift you off the ground at the start and keep you in her world for the duration (maybe I'm still there?). This spiky, awkwardly cosy, embarrassing, painful, intensely self-absorbed world is shown with great insight and sensitivity but is not one that you would choose to inhabit. With hindsight, there are echoes of "One flew over the Cuckoo's nest" though this in no way detracts from the originality of her novel. This is not a book to enjoy in the strict sense, but makes compelling reading. Depending on your sensitivity to the subject matter you may find you need to read this in chapter sized chunks. I read this after seeing the author speaking about it - her dry, unpretentious take on life appealed to me. If you are still undecided, I would put this book in the "Essential reading" category.
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