Pilcrow and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading Pilcrow on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Pilcrow [Hardcover]

Adam Mars-Jones
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
Price: 14.68 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
You Save: 4.31 (23%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 1 Aug.? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 4.79  
Hardcover 14.68  
Paperback 7.19  

Book Description

3 April 2008

Meet John Cromer, one of the most unusual heroes in modern fiction. If the minority is always right then John is practically infallible. Growing up disabled and gay in the 1950s, circumstances force John from an early age to develop an intense and vivid internal world. As his character develops, this ability to transcend external circumstance through his own strength of character proves invaluable. Extremely funny and incredibly poignant, this is a major new novel from a writer at the height of his powers.

'I'm not sure I can claim to have taken my place in the human alphabet . . . I'm more like an optional accent or specialised piece of punctuation, hard to track down on the typewriter or computer keyboard . . .'

Frequently Bought Together

Pilcrow + Cedilla
Buy the selected items together
  • Cedilla 15.01

Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (3 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571217036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571217038
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.6 x 5.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 489,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Book Description

A wonderful and much-anticipated coming-of-age story from an acclaimed literary author.

About the Author

Adam Mars-Jones's first book of stories, Lantern Lecture, was published in 1981 and won a Somerset Maugham Award. In 1983 and again in 1993 he was named one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists, despite not having produced a novel at the time. His Zen status as an acclaimed novelist without a novel was dented by the appearance of The Waters of Thirst, and can only suffer further with the appearance of Pilcrow.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By purpleheart TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
'The spring I learned to drive, the cherry tree in front of our house in Bourne End flowered as never before'. It was 1968'.

From these opening lines I was expecting a David Mitchell ( in Black Swan Green mode) exploration of adolescence. Instead there is a slow moving, incredibly detailed account of firstly bed rest for rheumatic fever - absolutely the wrong treatment for the Still's disease that it turns out that John Cromer really has - and then life in the special hospital for children with Still's.

It's a strange rites of passage novel as John Cromer is a strange boy. The detail of the descriptions can be excruciating - his pain at the hands of the nurses rather than his mother's care, his first sexual encounters and the logistical and physical difficulty of them considering his handicaps and those of his partners.

The detail and the length give us some insight into a life which is so severely curtailed physically if not in thought and spirit...but I'm still left wondering what Adam Mars-Jones was telling us.

The writing is good and funny - but the book just ends - I've since read that this is the first book in a trilogy - in which case I don't think it works fully as a stand alone volume.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pilcrow 17 Nov 2008
This is a truly remarkable novel, a masterpiece. It is a Proustian evocation of a fifties childhood, recaptured in extraordinary detail, and with great wit and good humour. Mars Jones is well known as a critic and for his shorter fiction, and here for the first time he writes at leisurely length. A second volume is promised, and is eagerly awaited by his admirers.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Weakest Hero, But The Strongest 12 Feb 2009
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I had to give myself a little break from Pilcrow before I could review it so that I could take it all in and let it digest. Adam Mars-Jones has been heralded for some time as one of the best writers by Granta and other such places... before he had even written his first novel, so Pilcrow had a lot to live up to before it was even published and released, it manages to live up to and beyond expectations. The book deals with so much its difficult to sum it up in a review of any length but I shall do my best for you all.

John Cromer is the unusual and fantastic narrator starting around the age of five when doctors diagnose him with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis leading to him having several years of bed rest. From there we are given the often hilarious thoughts and theories that John has as a young boy growing up in the 1950's. From what he thinks happens in the outside world which he hasn't seen much of to his mother's obsession with breeding budgies and cockatiels. It also gives us the underlying insight into marriages and society in that period from things that Johns mother (who is a brilliant gossip) says that we the reader can understand and piece together even if the narrator is too young and doesn't himself. It also looks at a child's idea of what life is like to be stuck in that environment in that time and how he feels at the prospect of it being forever.

However it isn't forever as during a visit to the dentists his mother reads a piece on the misdiagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and Still's disease of which John is discovered to have the latter and the one thing you should have if you have Stills disease is bed rest leaving him with lasting disabilities.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely enjoyable 15 May 2009
This book really surprised me. It's a bit of a brick of a thing, a huge novel with small print, but it is incredibly easy to read and I flew through it.

The novel tells the story of a boy called John Cromer, who succumbs to illness at an early age and is prescribed bed rest by his doctor, ordered to remain as still as possible as any physical effort whatsoever could prove fatal. However, it later transpires that John is actually suffering from a different condition - Still's Disease - where a lack of movement causes ankylosis, where the joints sieze up and calcify. As a result, John is crippled, with only a little movement in one arm and his head, and consigned to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

This all sounds unremittingly grim, not to mention dull (a motionless leading character, after all) but instead of focusing on his own predicament the narrator simply tells the story of his life, his friends, and his family. As the story progresses John goes to school - or a hospital school at least - and eventually enters adolescence where he starts to experience his first sexual feelings and homosexual encounters. The only negative point of the book is that it ends abruptly, but I understand that Adam Mars-Jones intends to write a trilogy, of which "Pilcrow" is the first part.

This is a superb book, written in a light and engaging style. The attention to detail throughout is remarkable, and surprisingly for a book as large as this I never once found myself wishing it would end. Simply put, it is one of the best books I've read in a long time.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A. Hunt
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel is difficult to describe. I should just say: read it and see! I could say it's "about" a disabled boy and his path to becoming a young man – a sort of coming of age tale. But that would be misleading. I could say it's "about" someone coming out, or rather, realising that he's gay. Again, that doesn't begin to describe the book.

To try a bit harder in describing it: this is a series of minute, perfectly vivid, reflective snapshots of time and place that capture what life was like in the late 50s and through the 60s, building up gradually into a coherent whole. It's a long book, but not a slow one. Although if I had to characterise it simply, one way of doing so would be to say that it is to most contemporary novels as slow food is to a Mickey D's.

This is funny yet restrained, poignant, idiosyncratic, and well worth a read. Remarkably, it escapes being pessimistic despite its protagonist's circumstances.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Bren Woodford
This book is based on an unusual topic. It is well deserved of five stars. It is poignant, and amusing. Read more
Published 3 months ago by B. A. Woodford
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely terrible
This author was twice voted by a British literary magazine one of the nation's most promising young novelists even before he had written a novel. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dark Knight
5.0 out of 5 stars after a slow start . . .
John Cromer suffers with Still's Disease which leaves him more than partially paralysed, this is his account of the onset of the disease and how he copes with the early years of... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Benjamin
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard work
Lordy does this book go on. It wasn't terribly written as such but just didn't make much progress and there was not enough there to make me want to finish reading it.
Published on 9 July 2012 by Chris
2.0 out of 5 stars Have I missed something?
I purchased this book based on the great reviews it had received, however I feel I've been misled. Whilst I appreciate it is well written and mildly humorous in places, I found it... Read more
Published on 16 Jun 2012 by S. M. Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars Punctuation
An absolute delight, if a little tannic for those with more delicate palates; this was purchased after laughing a lot with a friend over the beginning of the second volume of the... Read more
Published on 15 Oct 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A long book to relish
John Cromer, Pilcrow's narrator, is a boy growing up disabled in fifties England. The book covers his childhood and adolescence, spent first at home confined to his bed and then at... Read more
Published on 22 July 2011 by Eleanor
1.0 out of 5 stars Not very amusing.
I was drawn to this author by a spectacular review by the same of a Nobel winning author, which trashed his latest book with little mercy. Read more
Published on 14 May 2011 by Kriss
5.0 out of 5 stars Cannot recommend highly enough
An inspiring book full of candour and humour. Should be put on the national curriculum as an exemplar of fine literary writing and an object lesson in the experience of the... Read more
Published on 15 Mar 2011 by Whiteley Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably empathetic
The author captures perfectly a 1950s childhood (like my own) in a lower middle class family. The ignorance and curiosity of a child is well portrayed, also his emerging... Read more
Published on 17 Feb 2011 by Mr. D. P. Jay
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category