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Satisfaction [Paperback]

Gillian Greenwood
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Jun 2007
When Amy Marsham walks into his smart Harley Street practice, therapist Patrick McIlhenny knows that this will be no ordinary session. Amy, a woman on the eve of a new life, needs answers. So she visits the only person who may be able to provide them, who may know her husband better than she does.

In the calm of Patrick's office, they begin to untangle the events of one fateful week ten years earlier: a week of infatuation and friendships pushed to breaking point; a week in which Amy's life changed for ever. In this compelling and uplifting debut novel, Gillian Greenwood tells the story of a family, a group of friends, a marriage - and the secrets we keep to protect the ones we love.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (28 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719568714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719568718
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 12.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,762,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Entertaining and beautifully constructed first novel . . . It is completely satisfying. Take this book to the beach, but read it in the shade'

(Observer 20060701)

'A seriously good comedy of manners'

(Melvyn Bragg 20060501)

'This is obviously a story Greenwood wants to tell; she loves her troupe of players and has realised them all in a deft, careful way . . . a gentle, interesting tale and an accomplished debut'

(Evening Standard 20060724)

'With deft plotting, a light touch and plenty of writerly observation about modern mores, Greenwood delivers an entertaining first novel'

(Rachel Hore, Guardian 20060724)

'Greenwood slowly reveals, in careful, considered prose, the ever-changing dynamics of contentment, and discloses, with the help of a shocking twist, how happiness happens'

(Daily Mail 20060703)

'An elegant and incredibly accomplished debut; Gillian Greenwood captures the subtle shifts in relationships with rare perception and wit'

(Kathleen Tessaro, author of ELEGANCE and INNOCENCE 20060703)

'Enjoyable and thought-provoking'

(Woman's Own 20060731)


(The Times Literary Supplement 20060731)

'Deftly constructed'

(Good Housekeeping 20060703)

About the Author

Gillian Greenwood was educated at Somerville College, Oxford. She became editor of the Literary Review in her twenties, and then worked in arts television. She is currently executive producer of the South Bank Show, and she lives in London. Satisfaction is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally engaging 28 Aug 2006
Don't be put off by the cover of this book. This is an amazing debut novel highly readable and yet eloquently written....not at all trashy as the cover suggests.

It is both deep and moving yet light hearted and perceptive. She has an amazing ability to drill down to an emotional core of her characters, exploring subtle changes in moods and relationships without it ever being boring or heavy.

You feel instantly drawn in , and I found it impossible to put down.

A great read....full marks for enjoyment. If only all books we buy could be this well written....!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm just not that sure about things anymore" 14 July 2007
Set in modern-day London this beautifully structured novel is all about the intersection of love, fate and chance, be it through marriage, family or through friendship. Satisfaction begins as a young woman approaches the Harley Street offices of Clinical Psychologist Patrick McIlhenny. Her name is Amy Marsham and she's come to see Patrick to tell him she's been suffering "from an excess of happiness."

Patrick is at first taken back by Amy's admission, unused to seeing such pleasure in his particular working world, and feeling hypnotized but her presence, he almost finds himself lost to a daydream as he begins to listen to her confession. Apparently, Amy's husband James once had a series of sessions with Patrick ten years ago, James, however, never told his wife about them. Now Amy wants to enquire why her husband visited the psychiatrist and whether James had told him "that he was sick with joy the day he married me?"

Back in the hot and sticky summer of 1994 James and Amy appeared to have the perfect marriage and at least outwardly, James was satisfied to step into his future with assurance; he was, it seemed, destined for contentment and success. His old school mate Archie was always by his side, helping James along and without a doubt their relationship had become something of a mutual admiration society, Archie admiring James without really comprehending the rules he lived by.

But it is Archie's friendship with Amy that seems to the most cause for uneasiness. Amy is of course is married to James, but her focus is always on his best friend.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, boring, and a complete let down 25 July 2007
I cannot understand why this book got such glowing reviews, although Greenwood's charmed career and privileged status in the literary world may have something to do with it. This novel about self-indulgent and emotionally immature Londoners is full of very dull characters thinking about possible and inadequately fleshed out courses of action while in fact doing almost nothing for several hundred pages. It fails in every category: summer trash, chick lit, literature. I got it at half price and paid way too much.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than satisfactory 4 July 2006
I really really enjoyed this book and read it all in one sitting. It has a gripping storyline, a cast of wholly likeable characters and a subject matter which feels very now. The dialogue sparkles, there's a great twist in the plot! I'd recommend it to anyone who likes an accessible, engaging read but one with more than enough substance to leave you feeling fully satisfied at the end.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A "most satisfying" first novel 31 July 2007
By Armchair Interviews - Published on
Much like a photo album catches moments in time, so Satisfaction by Gillian Greenwood captures the essential spirit that moves each member of her ensemble at specific moments of their lives, over a period of years.

In Satisfaction, Greenwood favors character development rather than plot. The story revolves around three sisters and their mother, the men in their lives and the choices they make. The plot is simply a vehicle to explore the characters' feelings and responses.

The author's intimate insights into the ways people face their struggles, victories, and the grind of daily existence, fascinate me. These lines from the text sum up her approach beautifully. "He felt sudden compassion for the many foolish actions his friends had put before him over the years. He could see their follies now for what they were, a probing for signs of life, proofs against death or a moribund existence."

I hope those lines make as much sense out of context as they do within the confines of the book. In essence, sometimes we do things or consider doing things to mix things up a bit--just to see what would or could happen.

All of us have seen marriages thrive or dissolve, careers climb or crash, games won or lost--all on account of someone's impulsive behavior--individuals acting out the "what ifs" of their lives. To understand this behavior as a way to feel more alive makes it easier to feel compassion for the human condition and the sometimes irrational choices we all occasionally make.

Though a skillfully written and entertaining book, the value of Satisfaction rests more in having read the book than reading it. I feel like a better, more compassionate person for having spent a few hours reading this book. .And it's likely the effects of Satisfaction will last long after I've forgotten most other books.

Armchair Interviews says: Great expectations and unfulfilled promise illuminate Gillian Greenwood's fine first novel, Satisfaction.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book until the weak ending 1 Nov 2007
By Oyster - Published on
I find that many contemporary novelists have problems with character development. Greenwood does not have this problem and created an interesting (and realistic) mix of characters for this novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and conflict development. Anyone who cannot follow with the time changes in the novel should not read anything above the junior high level (this is not an issue and is certainly not as involved to follow as something like "The Sound and the Fury" or "The French Lieutenant's Woman". However, while the sexual tension between the characters is well developed, it is not adequately resolved. As a result, the ending is a let down.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Choppy and difficult to read 5 Sep 2007
By E. J. Phillips - Published on
I found Satisfaction choppy and difficult to read. The jumping back and forth from 1994 and 2004 was distracting. I finally read all of the 2004 segments just to get them out of the way so I could concentrate on the story line which in itself was vague.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the best, but expected. 5 Feb 2008
By Glitter Crisis - Published on
I grabbed Satisfaction thinking it would be an entertaining "chick lit" read -- cliché title and all. And of course, that's exactly how it started out. But a few chapters in, I found myself bored and frustrated with the style of Gillian Greenwood's writing and the annoying cast of characters.

Greenwood's character development is awkward, jumping between the past and the present. It's clear that the author is giving us background on the characters and their intertwined relationships, but it is distracting -- especially when there are so many people involved in the plot. Additionally, the characters weren't likable enough for me to truly care about them. The women in the story come across as selfish, whining about their insignificant problems and trouble with love. The main character, Amy, was especially irritating, dry, and rather dull. I felt no pity for her and her feelings of emptiness. I kept waiting for something truly exciting to happen, and I eagerly skipped over paragraphs purposely looking for a tragedy -- something, anything to make me keep turning the pages. But I had to keep on skimming to the very end -- also an utter disappointment.
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars confusing 11 July 2007
By Sara Cooper - Published on
This book was alright, except I don't know why the author chose to keep going back and forth between 1994 and 2004. It got confusing after a while because it was done so abruptly.

By the end of the book, I felt it was basically about 3 guys and 3 (sleazy) sisters that end up sleeping and swapping boyfriends around, before settling down. Eeww.
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