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Snake Ropes Hardcover – 10 May 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (10 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144473783X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444737837
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.1 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 483,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jess Richards was born in Wales in 1972, and grew up too fast in south west Scotland where she watched the ferry boats going to and from Northern Ireland. She left home at 17, went over the border to England, and lived for a year in Carlisle, before moving to Devon. She gained a first class degree from Dartington College of Arts when she was 21, then after brief stints busking and carrying on in both Leeds and London, she moved to Brighton aged 23 where she grew up a bit slower for many years. She is currently in a remote part of Scotland, living as simply as possible and writing. She has an isolation blog on her website to record some of this period of time.

She studied Creative Writing as an adult learner at Sussex University. She had a number of short stories published as a result of competitions she entered while on the course.
Jess' debut novel, Snake Ropes, was published by Sceptre in 2012.
Snake Ropes was longlisted for the Green Carnation Prize and shortlisted for the Costa first novel award 2012 and the Scottish Book Awards.
Her second novel, Cooking with Bones, was published by Sceptre in April 2013.

http://www.jessrichards.com/

Product Description

Review

Jess Richards's debut is a cornucopia of secrets and surprises, written in a bright, sassy style. The author is exuberantly inventive in creating a bitter-sweet world of magical transformations. (Independent)

A terrific story, quirky and wildly original. (Joanne Harris)

Richards handles her ambitions with aplomb. SNAKE ROPES is partly an extended meditation on trauma and healing, and the trauma is handled so well that the reader is exactly as upset as she needs to be to follow through...SNAKE ROPES reminds us that the act of storytelling is in itself a form of resolution. (Guardian)

Richards skilfully alternates between Mary and Morgan and their stories, touching on themes such as the transmission of folk wisdom, the creation of myths and violence against women. (Financial Times)

From the islanders' subtle creole to their myths of sea and sky and earth, Jess Richards has nurtured a remarkable community, their home glimpsed in the sea-mist like a new Avalon. Angela Carter or Laura Esquivel would have been proud of this. (We Love This Book)

A mystical book where a harsh self-sufficient lifestyle meets myths, legends and magic . . . an unusual, haunting debut novel. (thebookbag.co.uk)

Book Description

Stunning fiction debut in the vein of Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. K. Cross VINE VOICE on 26 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A fantastical tale that is fresh, original, imaginative & absorbing. The story has elements of myth, folklore & fairytale. It is set on am imaginary, isolated island. They have their own unique way with language, & it did feel a bit contrived at first, but once I was drawn into the story, it became natural, & flowed. Fairytale & reality are blurred, for the two main female teenage characters as well as us, the readers. The islanders only contact with the outside world is when they trade with the Tall Men. This trade is needed, but feared, as their visit coincides with the disappearance of island boys. One of the main characters, Mary, engages in a search for her brother who goes missing, while the other girl featured, Morgan, is practically kept prisoner by her parents, & the story follows her attempt to escape. There are mysteries to puzzle & tantalise you: how did Mary's mother die; what are Morgan's parents afraid of; how can Mary's brother's voice be heard coming from his favourite toy; what is the mystery behind the Thrashing House, the place from where no-one comes back? These & more mysteries are unfolded as the book progresses, & it kept me enthralled. Considering this is a first novel, it is quite a considerable achievement. I always know when I've really enjoyed a book when I feel sorry I have finished it, & this was one such book. Magical!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steve Benner TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
As a début novel, Jess Richards' "Snake Ropes" takes some beating. In it, she conjures a world that is both familiar and yet strange; an enigmatic world built of equal parts enchantment and nightmare, where one's assumptions about things are constantly shown to be false and one's understandings of the way things work prove to be naive. The tale unfolds through the narrative of two alternating first person perspectives, in a style similar to that which the author takes further in her later book, "Cooking with Bones". The approach here allows the reader to come to the tale from two different sides at once, although it takes almost half of the book for the connections between those two narratives to start to be at all clear -- not that this is in any way an impediment; far from it, the mystery of their connection being a major driver, should one be needed, for reading on! The two voices, whilst each echoing something of the other in a haunting kind of way, are sufficiently alien from each other as to maintain an air of separation and of disconnectedness which is tantalising and disconcerting in a way that is maintained almost to the very end of the book.

Jess Richards has a stunning ability to create fantasy which is utterly believable even throughout the more fantastical episodes of her tales. I have not encountered such a masterful blending of folklore, myth and reality, peppered with a health dose of feminist-centric writing, since Sheri S. Tepper at her peak ("
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ms. C. A. Anderson VINE VOICE on 11 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wasn't sure what to expect, sometimes you pick a book after reading the summary and it's nothing like what you read. This book was like this but in an unexpected and magical way. I felt a feeling that I haven't felt since the Chronicles of Narnia; of otherworldliness and a vivid feeling of fairytale mixed with reality. It's quite magical.

It's clear that Richards' childhood in the Isles of Scotland has been inspiration for the fictional Island setting which carries so much mystery and we travel with our alternating narratives and begin to unravel the mystery and history of the island and of course our characters.

Mary, one of our alternating narratives is a young teenager devastated by death and loss, namley her little brother; Barnley. The mystery behind this highlighting the long chain of young boys to have gone missing. At the other end of the scale we have Morgan who's confined existence with more than just overbearing parents brings the story of Cinderella to mind.

Both being told stories of tales and stories of a land before, reality and fairytale are hard to separate not only for Mary and Morgan but for us as the reader. With magic as common place as the being in the trees and words you speak, a mysterious tangle of events begins to entwine us and the girls with a need to find out what the mystery behind this island is and why it is so important for the 'snake ropes' made by the people of the island of seaweed and magic to be traded with outsiders...

An impressive debut novel venturing and mixing fairytale and reality together in such a completely original and inventive way which captures you and transports almost physically there as well as mentally. Stunning.

Cassandra220689
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ZoeatAllandoo on 23 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent debut novel by Jess Richards.
It is narrated by its two main characters Mary & Morgan. The story is set on a remote Island which has never been mapped and it's only visitors are the "Tall Men" who arrive once a month to trade with the Islanders. The other men in the story are almost irrelevant with the Island Women deciding the Islanders fate. Much discussion of which takes place in the weaving room and punishments are dealt out by the Thrashing House.
Boys on the Island are disappearing though and when Mary's young brother disappears she is determined to find him - he is hers after all. Her Mother is dead and her father always fishing so Mary was his sole carer.
Morgan, the other heroine, is trapped in her family home and has been since they fled to the Island from the mainland. She has younger twin sisters who seem strangely sinister, a rather weak father and a mother who is consistently childlike with breakdowns and tantrums. Morgan ends up, like Cinderella, doing all the cooking and cleaning for the household.
The Islanders have many strange beliefs which have been passed down through the generations. Folklore and magic is rife in every aspect of their lives. There is a beautiful contrast between Mary who has been born and bred on the Island and Morgan who was brought there and been kept separate with only a large supply of books to keep her company. The story is full of metaphors and symbols in a primative place that has escaped time. The characters are enthralling and puzzles and twists keep you turning the pages to find out more. The dreamlike quality of this tale is almost like Alice in Wonderland but more believable due to the way of life of the Islands inhabitants. Mary and Morgan are vulnerable and yet very strong characters.
A beautifully written book which is very different from anything I would normally choose but thoroughly recommend.
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