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Skallagrigg [Paperback]

William Horwood
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 April 1988
Unites Arthur, a little boy abandoned many years ago in a grim hospital in northern England, with Esther, a radiantly intelligent young girl who is suffering from cerebral palsy, and with Daniel, an American computer-games genius. This book has been made into a BBC film.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (7 April 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140072063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140072068
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 68,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books ever written 21 Jan 2004
By Roger Boon VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I first read "Skallagrigg" in 1988 and believe that it is the finest novel by an author I consider to be the greatest english writer of the latter part of the twentieth century.It is the ultimate "quest" novel: not only does it tell the immensely moving story of Esther's inspired search for the abandoned Arthur, but at a deeper psychological and spiritual level it also challenges us to search for the meaning and identity of the Skallgrigg for ourselves. Although it moved me to tears, its celebration of the redemptive power of love was matched by an unflinching recognition of the appalling way we have until very recently in this country (and sadly still elsewhere) treated those who suffer from disabilities like Esther's and Arthur's.A treatment so vividly expressed in the evil and everlooming presence of the character, Dilke. I have given almost 50 copies of this wonderful book to friends and only two have failed to contact me to convey their joy at reading it.The film which was made of it could not sadly begin to penetrate the depths to which Horwood's imagination compels us.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Skallagrigg is a novel which breaks all the conventional rules generally acknowledged to produce books of quality. It has two main characters, a multitude of secondary characters, two main stories running concurrently and a myriad of intricate sub plots but suprisingly this break away from convention works.
William Horwood successfully converts a complex idea into a readable format by breaking the novel into five parts each containing its own driving force whilst maintaining the central thread which runs throughout the book, namely, the Skallagrigg theme.
In part one we are introduced to Arthur a young boy with cerebral palsy. Set in the North of England in 1927 we accompany the vulnerable seven year old as he is taken from the bosom of his family into an institution. Labelled a congenital idiot he is sentenced to a lifetime of abuse by staff and inmates alike.
Horwood has done his research well, so well in fact that you forget it is fictional. His power of description is so vivid you can almost smell the fear as the despicable orderly Dilke walks into the terror filled wards brandishing a window hook and exerting his power over the helpless victims.
Arthur's physical being is protected by Frank a fellow inmate who is able to understand Arthur's strangled speech. When Frank isn't able to come to his aid Arthur gains strength from Skallagrigg, a seemingly mystical entity which gives Arthur the courage to survive many ordeals.
In part two we meet Esther Marquand, a young girl with cerebral palsy who having had the advantages of modern developments in the field of caring and educating disabled children has experienced a very different yet strangely similar life-style to Arthur.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book of all time 5 Jun 2003
Format:Paperback
I first read Skallagrigg when my son who has Down's syndrome was 6 months old. It opened a door for me and gave me insight into my new and scarey world of the disabled. Estha's friend Tom is a very special person to me.
All that I have learnt from this book will stay with me for the rest of my life......... and I will never again only speak to the person pushing the wheelchair but most importantly to the person in it !!
My son is now 15 (and very like Tom I have to say !!!), I have read Skallagrigg three times more since then and every time it's as good as the last. Today I have had to buy a new copy of this very special book as the inevitable has happened.....on lending it, it was not returned!
WARNING: Never lend this book as whoever reads it will not want to return it!!!!
It is a book that you will want to keep for ever.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books ever written 21 Jan 2004
By Roger Boon VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
This I believe is the finest novel by an author I consider to be the greatest english writer of the latter part of the twentieth century.It is the ultimate "quest" novel: not only does it tell the immensely moving story of Esther's inspired search for the abandoned Arthur, but at a deeper psychological and spiritual level it also challenges us to search for the meaning and identity of the Skallgrigg for ourselves. Although it moved me to tears, its celebration of the redemptive power of love was matched by an unflinching recognition of the appalling way we have until very recently in this country (and sadly still elsewhere) treated those who suffer from disabilities like Esther's and Arthur's.A treatment so vividly expressed in the evil and everlooming presence of the character, Dilke. I have given almost 50 copies of this wonderful book to friends and only two have failed to contact me to convey their joy at reading it.The film which was made of it could not sadly begin to penetrate the depths to which Horwood's imagination compels us.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily makes my top five 4 April 2007
Format:Paperback
I have always been a prolific reader and sometimes have as many as five books on the go at any one time, picking up the one which most suits my mood.

This book is absolutely brilliant and so beautifully touches the emotions of the reader. It made me laugh and it made me cry. I cried often and long and deep.

It is clear that William Horwood has been close to cerebral palsy and his daughter, Rachel, does suffer from this condition.

The central figures are Arthur, a sufferer from the early part of the twentieth century, and Esther, a sufferer from the latter part of the same century. It explores the massive differences between the ways that they were perceived and the ways that they were treated because of those perceptions.

Esther embarks on a quest to find Skallagrigg, without knowing what it is, and you must read the book to find out if she succeeds, and what it means.

The reader is drawn into the characters and I found myself living the roller coaster emotional existence of both of them.

I am constantly recommending this book to friends and family. Many of them find it difficult to get into the story but I encourage them to persevere. Whilst I can understand their difficulty, I had no trouble whatsoever and was captured from the first paragraph.

If you are only ever going to read one more book in your life, it would have to be this one and no other. Trust me!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Book - Get out the tissues
As a bloke I probably shouldn't like this sort of thing but this is really a book for anyone to read. Inspirational and evocative. Great writing. Can't recommend it enough
Published 2 days ago by Geoff (Del Boy)
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book, condition ok
The book is one of my all time favourites and so was bought as a present for my girlfriend, the book is an amazing tale that will have you gripped from the first chapter! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Alexander
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. What a book.
This was a beautifully written book with a lot of heart. I wish it was available in the US! Great ending. Thanks!
Published 4 months ago by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book.
It makes you cry. It makes you smile. It makes you stay up all night to get to the end...
Published 7 months ago by fiona sneesby
5.0 out of 5 stars Skallagrigg
I have joined a book club and this was the first book that I had to read. I wouldn't have chosen it myself but am so glad I read it. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Gillian Beresford-Power
4.0 out of 5 stars SKALLAGRIGG
I AM A VORACIOUS READER,AND I LOVE WILLIAM HORWOOD "DUNCTON WOOD" (TRIOLOGY) BRILLIANT,"THE BOY WITH NO SHOES" (AUTOBIOGRAPY) ALSO BRILLIANT,BUT I FOUND THIS... Read more
Published 8 months ago by freedom6
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read.
In its time this read was complex and searching, bizarre at first but still a book you need to finish. Read more
Published 8 months ago by AnniePal
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read
A fantastic book and a read I would recommend to all, particularly to anyone with experience of those with special needs or wishing to explore humanity a little further. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mark Lewis
3.0 out of 5 stars Skallagrig
The pages are very brown and the top of the spine slightly damaged, However it is an old book, but I do have some older which have been read and are in better condition. Read more
Published 9 months ago by ray lowrie
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book and I guarantee your attitude towards disability will...
I really loved this book. As someone who works in the caring profession, it made me realise how far we have come with our attitudes towards disabled people. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mrs. A. H. Slade
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