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Room [Hardcover]

Emma Donoghue
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,262 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 July 2010
It’s Jack’s birthday, and he’s excited about turning five. Jack lives with his Ma in Room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures 11 feet by 11 feet. He loves watching TV, and the cartoon characters he calls friends, but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits that there's a world outside . . . Told in Jack's voice, Room is the story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible. Unsentimental and sometimes funny, devastating yet uplifting, Room is a novel like no other. 'Emma Donoghue's writing is superb alchemy, changing innocence into horror and horror into tenderness. Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it's over you look up: the world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days' Audrey Niffenegger 'Room is one of the most profoundly affecting books I've read in a long time. Jack moved me greatly. His voice, his story, his innocence, his love for Ma combine to create something very unusual and, I think, something very important . . . Room deserves to reach the widest possible audience' John Boyne ‘I loved Room. Such incredible imagination, and dazzling use of language. And with all this, an entirely credible, endearing little boy. It's unlike anything I've ever read before’ Anita Shreve


Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st Edition edition (30 July 2010)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0330519018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330519014
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Emma Donoghue's writing is superb alchemy, changing innocence into horror and horror into tenderness. Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it's over you look up: the world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days.'
--Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife

'I loved Room. Such incredible imagination, and dazzling use of language. And with all this, an entirely credible, endearing little boy. It's unlike anything I've ever read before' --Anita Shreve

'a boundary-pushing story of jaw-dropping cruelty told with eye-watering tenderness... In writing this Emma Donoghue has turned a spotlight on contemporary western society and with this unique voice she has created a must read for all.' --Patrick Neale, Bookseller

'an utterly compelling novel about a mother and son, held captive inside a ''room''... The novel is horrific, yet never horrifying, touching yet never sentimental. It has something of The Lovely Bones about it.' --Sue Scholes, Bookseller

'Donoghue imbues Jack with an acute intelligence and is masterful at showing us his strange perceptions. This is not a comfortable read, but it's an unforgettable one.' --Ruth Hunter, Bookseller

'Imagine living in a room 12 feet by 12 feet. Imagine that you've never left. Imagine that you're five years old and the only person you've met is your mother, who was kidnapped as a teenager. Imagine that one night, through courage and desperation, you get outside. Emma Donoghue brilliantly imagines the unimaginable with equal parts compassion and style. A surefire prize-winner.' --Diva

'Emma Donoghue has written a heartbreaking, heart-racing unnerving novel.' -- Waterstones Books Quarterly

'With echoes of the Josef Fritzl case and touted as the most controversial novel of the summer, this book will . . . have you turning the pages until the wee hours.' --Grazia

'Part childhood adventure story, part adult thriller, Room is above all the most vivid, radiant and beautiful expression of maternal love I have ever read. Emma Donoghue has stared into the abyss, honoured her sources and returned with the literary equivalent of a great Madonna and Child. This book will break your heart.' --The Irish Times

'It takes a consummate writer to make us marvel at the mundane. Beckett's Waiting for Godot did it, of course. So did Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, set in a 1950s Siberian labour camp.

Emma Donoghue does it so spectacularly that we are taken by surprise when, in the middle of the novel, resourceful Ma's escape plans swing into action.

The reader hurries on partly because Jack is so masterful a creation. Like John Boyne's Bruno in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, he knows more than he understands. And the dramatic irony heightens the poignancy of the tale as it progresses into the third section, which deals with life after abduction.' --The Irish Independent

'On one level a simple story about and extreme situation, it is also a novel in the tradition of Gulliver's Travels, with Jack's perspective allowing Donoghue to hold the adult world up to an unfamiliar type of scrutiny.' -- The Sunday Times

'The story is told, with unsurpassed panache . . . Room will certainly be much garlanded, and it will deserve every prize it gets. Fantastic - but deeply, deeply disturbing.' --AN Wilson - Readers Digest

'Room is likely to attract comparisons with Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones and it deserves equal success . . . In the hands of a lesser author, Room could have felt both exploitative and sensationalist thanks to its subject matter. Instead, it makes the reader think about the importance of freedom and its costs. Above all though, it is a novel about the love between a mother and her child. Which is why, despite its darkest of settings, Room is an affecting and uplifting read.' --Evening Standard

'[Room] reads as smooth as ice-cream and Donoghue quickly builds a compelling view of this strange existence . . . as a life-affirming fable of parent-child love, and an antidote to the prurience of so much crime fiction, it's a triumph and deserves to be a hit.' --Daily Telegraph

'Room is set to be one of the big literary hits of the year . . . It is a brave act for a writer, but happily one that Donoghue, still only 40 but on her seventh novel, has the talent to pull off. For Room is in many ways what its publisher claims it to be: a novel like no other . . . To read this book is to stumble on a completely private world. Every family unit has its own language of codes and in-jokes, and Donoghue captures this exquisitely . . . the grotesque is consistently balanced with the uplifting and there is a moment, halfway through the novel, where you feel you would fight anyone who tried to wrestle it from your grasp with the same ferocity that Ma fights for Jack, such is the author's power to make out of the most vile circumstances something absorbing, truthful and beautiful . . . Jack's introduction to the confusing world of freedom is handled with incredible skill and delicacy . . . In the hands of this audacious novelist, Jack's talk is more than a victim-and-survivor story: it works as a study of child development, shows the power of language and storytelling, and is a kind of sustained poem in praise of motherhood and parental love.' --Observer

'This is a novel, and a child, that will not be confined . . . To this reader, at least, its effect is almost exhilarating.' -- Boyd Tonkin, Independent

'Set to be one of the big literary hits of the year . . . More than a victim-and-survivor story, it works as a study of child development, shows the power of language and storytelling, and is a kind of sustained poem in praise of motherhood and parental love.' --Observer

'This child's-eye view of the world may sound kooky, but it reads as smooth as ice-cream . . . As a life-affirming fable of parent-child love, and an antidote to the prurience of so much crime fiction, it's a triumph, and deserves to be a hit.' --Daily Telegraph

'Above all, it is a novel about the love between a mother and her child. Which is why, despite its darkest of settings, Room is an affecting and uplifting read.' --Evening Standard

'A heart-warming homage to the limitless capabilities of maternal love and the power of the imagination. An intriguing, beautiful read.' --Easy Living

'Taut, devastating and gripping, Room is the story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.' --Psychologies Magazine

`A celebration of the freedoms we take for granted, and a gripping, moving read.' --Time Out

'A novel that has huge summer hit written all over it.' --Metro - Fiction of the Week

'Haunting and compelling.' -- Woman & Home

'Totally unique and intriguing. It kept us utterly hooked.' --Cosmopolitan

'The novel's beauty lies in how it celebrates survival without being simplistic or trite. Jack's experiences are extremely atypical but, through his combination of innocence and knowingness, Donoghue captures the universality of coming to an awareness of the world.' --Sunday Business Post

'No subject, no story, could be more overdetermined than that of Room: more shaped and structured by our carious ways of speaking about the mind, the self, the family, from linguistics and psychiatry to red-top frenzy and talk-show hysteria. Yet somehow, via the narrative voice of Jack and his stoic and heroic making-sensein words of his small world. It bursts free of ever preset category. This is a novel, and a child, that will not be confirmed. To stand on its own it must scale the intellectural walls that surround its theme . . . Bristling with a fiercely intelligent if unobtrusive grasp of the links between language, power andperception, Room marks both a fresh start for its author's fiction and in some ways, a deepening of its range.' --Independent

'Room is a chilling account of a young boy and his mother . . . What is in essence a horrifying tale, inspired by real-life instances of forced confinement, it is transformed into a heartwarming homage to the limitless capabilities of maternal love and the power of the imagination. An intriguing, beautiful read.' --Easy Living

'Taut, devastating and gripping, Room - inspired by the true story of Elisabeth Fritzl, imprisioned with her children by her father - is the story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.' --Psychologies

'Donoghue manages to give her tale, and a truly horrendous scenario, a positive treatment while giving us a celebration of the freedoms we take for granted. A gripping, moving read.' --Time Out

'[Jack's] vocabulary is endearingly skew-whiff and his broken, lyrical speech patterns beautifully capture the intense, abnormal richness of the pair's sensory-deprived existence . . . a novel that has huge summer hit written all over it.' --Metro - Fiction of the Week

'Room and its contents take on their own character in this haunting and compelling novel.' --Woman & Home

'Totally unique and intriguing. It kept us utterly hooked.' --Cosmopolitan

`I've never read a more heart-bustlingly, gut wrenchingly compassionate novel . . . As for sweet, bright, funny Jack, I wanted to scoop him up out of the novel and never let him go. In him, Donoghue has created 21st-century fiction's most uniquely loveable voice. She deserves to win this year's Man Booker Prize.' --Daily Mail

`Riveting, funny, inventive, moving...an extraordinary novel and deserves its place among the books of the year.' --The Lady

`In filling this book with things that are both truly horrific and rather lovely, Emma Donoghue has achieved a work that is deeply unsettling on every level. It is a strange paradox that a book about imprisonment and torture should have become an arena for discussing the proper care and love of children. I think I am glad to have read it.' --Financial Times

`What saves this beautifully nuanced book from being in any way a voyeuristic reaction to true crime is less the descriptions of captivity than the inevitably changing nature of the child / parent relationship, which Donoghue explores here so minutely, recognisably and exultantly.' --Sunday Telegraph

'Although Room is entirely told from Jack's viewpoint, we learn much about Ma. As in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, we see how the love of a child in adversity can make a hero of an ordinary person...[an] intense and absorbing novel...So closely has Emma Donoghue made us identify with her characters that, through Jack's eyes, we can see our own world made new.' --Literary Review

'Room is a fascinating, engagingly written account of a child-parent relationship. Wider implications are that human beings need room of their own to remain true to themselves.' --Methodist Recorder

'Room ... has a way of turning difficult material into something life-enhancing, almost funny, but always engaging.' --Colm Toibin, Irish Times

'Booker-nominated novels rarely find their way on to my favourite lists, because I sometimes feel they're too clever for their own good, but Emma Donoghue's Room tackles a difficult and emotive subject in a truly brilliant way. The voice of the five-year-old narrator is superbly done.' --Sheila O'Flanagan, Irish Times

'Peppered with such moments of love and poignancy between Jack and his mother as to be almost uplifting.' --Glamour

About the Author

Born in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish writer who lives in Canada. Her fiction includes includes the bestselling Slammerkin.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
92 of 96 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Room Conversion 4 April 2011
By Quicksilver TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Being aware of the rather unappealing premise of 'Room', it wasn't a book I wanted to read. Despite the praise heaped upon it, I had expected it to be the sort of voyeuristic account of great suffering that passes as entertainment these days. My book group however, were keen to read it, and so I acquiesced agreeing to give it a try. I have to say my original assumption was well wide of the mark. Right from the beginning it is obvious that this novel is something special.

The story (as you probably already know) is narrated by 'Jack', a five year old, who has only ever lived in 'Room'. Jack's mother has been kidnapped and held for seven years. Jack is the product of her kidnapper's unwanted attentions. Knowing the book had a child narrator had also put me off reading it. I tend to find that books written with a child's voice are normally pretentious and hard to read. Room's Booker prize nomination had done nothing to allay these fears.

Although Jack's voice is not entirely consistent with how I imagine a five-year-olds might be, it is the making of the novel. For a start, that something so pure and innocent can come from such bleak circumstances, makes the novel bearable. Secondly, Emma Donaghue uses Jack's over-simplified understanding of the world almost without fault. She uses the space between reality and Jack's view of reality to convey events in a much more powerful way than writing about them directly. The whole novel is the ultimate example of 'showing' rather than 'telling'.

It is curious that the most exciting point of the novel is about halfway through. Though I feel novel's the gradual relaxation of tension is entirely justified (mirroring, Jack's return to something like a normal life), it does make the last half of the novel feel over long.
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262 of 279 people found the following review helpful
By Nicola F (Nic) TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is a book I hadn't heard much about prior to picking it up (I try to avoid too overly-hyped novels), but I'm so glad that I gave this a chance. There's not a lot I can add to all the previous reviews and comments that hasn't already been said, other than to afirm that this is a bloody good read.

Told from the point of view of five year old Jack, the novel sees him and his mother living in `Room,' a place the child has never left in his whole life. Unbeknownst to him however, that is because he and his mother are both prisoners and this little boy's world is about to be turned entirely upside down...

I am in awe at the authors ability to consistently maintain the voice of a child in telling this story; granted an incredibly *smart* child, but a child nonetheless. This is what for me made this book so fascinating, because Jack is such a memorable narrator. Also, the relationship between a mother and child who ultimately only have each other was told such in a moving way that for me that was the essence of the novel, despite the sinister plot twists, which were granted, a bit predictable but still very well portrayed.

I adored this book and couldn't put it down. The storyline is compelling, despite the sad turns of events, and characters are incredibly skilfully developed and believable. I would urge everyone to read this book- you won't be sorry you did.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written - couldn't put it down 4 Sep 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I loved this book. Even a month after finishing it I am thinking about the characters and thinking about how good it was and how beautifully written. Seeing things from the child's point of view and hearing his thoughts reminded me a little of The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time, although this book felt emotionally deeper that the Dog in the Night, probably because of the theme of captivity.
Despite that being the theme, it's not gruelling to read at all. At no point did I feel disgusted or disturbed, which I was worried about before I started it and was told it was inspired by the Josef Fritzel case. It IS about a mother and son being held captive, but the captor is given very little description and limited attention is given to him. Apparently Donaghue did that on purpose as she didn't want the book to be about him. She has said the main thing that gave her inspiration from the Fritzel case wasn't the torture or the assault or Fritzel himself; the thing she found fascinating was the idea of a child being born in that room and only knowing that for their whole life, then emerging into a world they've never seen before like an alien landing on earth. That's what comes through in the book and it's really eye-opening. The other overwhelming theme is the bond between a mother and child. That's what I found anyway. It's great - read it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Room without a view 15 Aug 2011
Format:Paperback
I found this book more than a little tedious. Given the situation and the awfulness of circumstance, the book felt rushed as to detail and slow as to pace. I had to read it for my book club and I would not have bothered past the first chapter otherwise.
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239 of 265 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious, intelligent and utterly gripping 18 July 2010
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a genuinely original, imaginative and ambitious novel which Donoghue pulls off brilliantly. Written through the voice and perspective of 5 year old Jack, we witness his happy and secure solitary life with his mother in Room. Playing on the tradition of other naive child-narrators (e.g. Pip in Great Expectations, Maisie in What Maisie Knew) we experience his exuberant take on what he naturally assumes is normal, only the sinister implications of their life seep through the edges to unsettle us as readers, revealing a far more menacing reality that he doesn't see.

This isn't a plot driven novel full of twists and turns, instead it is an intelligent and detailed exploration of the way the human mind constructs its own reality. Full of tenderness as well as pain, this celebrates the relationship created by this young mother with her son, and reveals the enormous potential for resilience in the human spirit.

The second half of the book where Jack experiences Outside for the first time is fresh and imaginative, sometimes funny but also agonising as this solemn 5 year old understands for the first time that the world doesn't consist of just him and his mother, and that the rules which they lived by can, and should, be broken.

There are a few small points where Donoghue stumbles (the first TV interview felt very false and forced; some of Jack's naivety towards the end takes on the tinge of adult satire and I felt like it was the author, not the character, talking about how people have too little time to enjoy their lives).

But these are small niggles in a powerful and overwhelmingly confident narrative. I started this in the afternoon and was literally unable to put the book down till I finished it that night and even after that Jack's voice still haunted me. It's quite rare for me to be really gripped by a contemporary literary novel but this one managed it effortlessly: highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant surprise
Interesting book not what I thought it would be. Some plots issues but an ok read and more uplifting than I had expected
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad , thought provoking
This book is so unusual, from the point of view of a child locked in a room, prepare to cry
Published 2 days ago by Ms. M. RIGBY
3.0 out of 5 stars A sensitively handled (but flawed) story, which will appeal to fans of...
Jack is an unusual and tricky choice of narrator - brought up alone by his mother, in an 11-foot square room, he has no concept of other people (apart from his shadowy impressions... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Gabby Singer
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read
took a wee while to get into this book keep going turned into a great read and a quite thought provoking
Published 3 days ago by inag
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
When I finished this book I tried to get quickly into another as I am an avid reader but found it so thought provoking that it was 2-3 days before I could concentrate on anything... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Susan Breeden
5.0 out of 5 stars Very poignant and a unique narrative voice
This is an unusual novel and initially I wasn't too sure about it, but I quickly got sucked into the narrative. Read more
Published 4 days ago by John Hopper
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I read this as it was recommended by my Book Club. I found it an interesting read. Not a book I would necessarily have read if not for the Book Club.
Published 4 days ago by Mrs. B. D. Hollidge
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
It was quite difficult initially to follow the language in the beginning, as you're inside the head of a 5yr old without introduction. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Caroline Purvis
1.0 out of 5 stars not for me
I got bored, I didn't like the writing style. even though this had been recommended top me. I gave up after a few chapters.
Published 8 days ago by amy502
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful!
Reading the storyline on the back of the book, this seemed like a very interesting read...how wrong was I? Read more
Published 9 days ago by watkinss2
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