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A Rope of Sand Hardcover – 1 Mar 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (1 Mar. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385607075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385607070
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.4 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,320,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A compelling story which is written with a light, deft touch that belies the emotional punch that it packs.' -- Kate Atkinson

'A novel of dazzling cosmopolitanism, light-handed wit and relentless suspense, by a writer of great originality of talent.' -- Sybille Bedford

'An ultimately tragic tale of sophomoric lust and snobbery.' -- Independent

'Beautiful, intimate.' -- Observer

'Beautifully constructed, delaying its shocks until the last possible moment...Worthy not only of Henry James but of Elizabeth Bowen.' -- The Times

'It is original, intelligent, emotionally powerful and yet it is written with a feather-light touch.' -- Historical Novels Review

'Perfect holiday read...Invites re-reading for the sheer pleasure of the prose...Imbued with the spirit of Henry James.' -- Guardian

From the Back Cover

A chance encounter in a French town brings dark memories flooding back to fifty-five-year-old Kate.As a student at Sweet Briar College, Virginia in the 1950s, she joined a grand tour of Europe along with three classmates and their chaperone, Miss Grist.At the last minute, the mysterious and wealthy new girl, Olivia Hartfield, surprised them all by joining them.

Revelling in the unparalleled freedom of the old world, Kate and her friends gradually form a privileged and sophisticated clique as, one by one, three intriguing but very different young men latch on to their party. But nobody is quite as they appear, and as facades crumble, this journey will prove eye-opening in ways the girls couldn’t have possibly have imagined.On a remote outing a tragic and sinister event occurs.Now, thirty years later, the question is still open: what really happened that day? --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A. Craig HALL OF FAME on 12 May 2004
Format: Paperback
I like this kind of novel very much, and A Rope of Sand is an excellent example of it. It begins in the south of Frnace when Kate, the narrator, thinks she sees Olivia, a girl who has obsessed her since the 1950s, apparently unchanged by time. Actually, it's her daughter, but the middle-aged Olivia - Rockerfeller heiress, beauty, and for some reason an object of intense hatred - then tells Kate something that shatters her world view and makes her not so much the classic innocent abroad but an ignoramus abroad. She then tells her story: how she and her friends from a small genteel women's college went to Europe and had their lives changed by their association with Olivia. Seduction, betrayal, accident and malice all conspire to deceive. Occasionally the author over-eggs it slightly with her promise to reveal dreadful things, which is why it gets 4 stars. The story is quite gripping enough without having its climax flagged up.
It would spoil the story to know more, but two things are particularly good about this book. One is the grace and intelligence with which it is written - steeped in Henry James, but also challenging his view of life - and the other is the period feel. Kate goes to post-war Britain, Paris, Rome and Egypt, and the way she conveys an innocent American's view of these is absolutely captivating. It would make a good film...but is well worth reading.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Hilsdon on 18 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
The writing is good, although slow to get going and took some effort until it warmed up. In general accuracy of scenes is good (I've been to most of these places uncluding Egypt). However there is one glaring error which shows a complete lack of research. In chapter 18 Lord Brydonne talks about his Suffolk sheep - he refers to them as white specks and says 'look at those horns'. Well, sorry Ms Donald, but Suffolk, in England at least, are black and hornless. It spoilt the book for me and made me wonder how much else was just guesswork.
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