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Something Beginning With [Paperback]

Sarah Salway
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 8.19 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

3 Sep 2010

One of the great hidden gems of the past decade.

Written in brief entries from ‘Ambition’ to ‘Zzzzz’ Salway's confident debut novel chronicles the existential ups and downs of British 20-something Verity Bell.

The alphabetically arranged mini-chapters make for an inventive and episodic narrative, as Verity muses on her career (A is for Attitude: "I work as a secretary in the media… something I don't always talk about because some people seem to think I'm showing off"), her friendship with the fabulous Sally (B is for Best Friends: "my best friend, Sally, has become the mistress of a millionaire called Colin"), her feelings on Gwyneth Paltrow (G is for You-Know-Who: "If I looked like Gwyneth Paltrow, nothing could possibly go wrong in my life") and other issues of love, friendship and family.

With both parents deceased, Verity clings to Sally as a sort of substitute family, but struggles with her insecurities and her envy of Sally's ‘perfect’ existence. She falls madly in love with a married man but, unsurprisingly, their steamy affair is not the solution to Verity's problems; rather, it exacerbates her self-doubt as she plays second fiddle to the wife and children.

Ultimately, Verity's life takes an unexpected turn, and she emerges a stronger and more creative woman. Salway wraps her bright, comic writing in bite-sized chunks that make this first novel an easy-reading pleasure.

First published in 2004 to considerable critical acclaim - Neil Gaiman called Sarah ‘an astonishingly smart writer’ and Sainsbury’s magazine hailed the book as ‘a Bridget Jones for our times’ - Something Beginning With became a cult classic. By which we mean a book that didn’t sell a huge amount but nearly everyone who did buy it loved it.

We are delighted to be able to include Something Beginning With as one of the launch titles for The Library of Lost Books. Sarah has a considerable online following and her debut novel has been unavailable for some time.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: The Friday Project; Library of Lost Books edition edition (3 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007368399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007368396
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,452,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sarah Salway is the author of three novels, SOMETHING BEGINNING WITH, TELL ME EVERYTHING and GETTING THE PICTURE, one solo collection of short stories, and a poetry collection, YOU DO NOT NEED ANOTHER SELF-BOOK BOOK. She lives half the time in Kent, England, in a house that is rumored to have been the illegal gaming rooms of the famous dandy Beau Nash, and half the time in London where she is teaches and works as a writing coach. She blogs regularly at www.sarahsalway.net, and at www.writerinthegarden.com.

Product Description

Review

• ‘Sarah Salway is an astonishingly smart writer. Her fiction is always beautifully structured, touching and clever – she manages the trick of making people that you care about in stories you admire. I can't wait to see what she does next.’ Neil Gaiman
• 'Both hilarious and heart-warming - and it's transformed into something even more original and captivating by the novel's unlikely obsession with the alphabet' Red Magazine
• 'Verity Bell is a very odd young woman, and this delightfully original novel catalogues her worries and weird flight of fancy … Charming and darkly funny' Marie Claire
• 'An innocent eccentric, Verity is an engaging narrator, and this is a charming, sweet and strange book' Image
• 'Verity Bell is a Bridget Jones for our times … Salway's skill lies in artfully crafting the fragments into an intricate portrait of Verity and her life. A real treat' Sainsbury's Magazine

About the Author

Sarah Salway lives in Kent and London. She is currently the RLF Fellow at the London School of Economics.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original! 30 July 2006
By Emmsy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book's a bit like the tardis; it looks like an innocent, light read from the outside, but inside it's packed with mind-expanding ideas and quirky features. The voice is really engaging and the structure clever and daring. While it's possible to read 'Something beginnning With' in one sitting, the themes and questions Sarah Salway raises stay with you for a long time afterwards.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A for Addictive 1 May 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I do not often read a book in one sitting but 'Something Beginning with...' demands to be read in one luscious mouthful. It is curiously addictive, and for me the pages turned in rapid succession. Verity, the twenty-something writer of this lexicon, which also has a diary-like feel, is an entertaining narrator who is well-practised in self-delusion. The problems she encounters are solved with originality and verve and her astute observations of life around her are sometimes amusing and sometimes very poignant. As well as relating a highly satisfying tale Verity (or rather Sarah Salway) also manages to incorporate some surprising and interesting facts e.g. how Japanese mothers terminate breastfeeding (see w: withdrawal). This is a lively contemporary story of the meaning of love and loss and I look forward to reading more from this writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure from A to Z 5 May 2004
Format:Hardcover
This is one of the finest books I have read in a while; I loved it. It is miles ahead of all other chick lit out there, because apart from being entertaining, funny and utterly engaging, this novel is also insightful, touching, and beautifully written. Written in alphabetical glossary entires, each short section tells its own story, and the vignettes add up to a lovely book that is as smart as it is sweet. I would highly recommend this one to anyone, not just "chicks". There is really nothing out there quite like it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasure from A to Z 6 May 2004
Format:Hardcover
This is one of the finest books I have read in a while; I loved it. It is miles ahead of all other chick lit out there, because apart from being entertaining, funny and utterly engaging, this novel is also insightful, touching, and beautifully written. Written in alphabetical glossary entries, each short section tells its own story, and the vignettes add up to a lovely book that is as smart as it is sweet. I would highly recommend this one to anyone, not just "chicks". There is really nothing out there quite like it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, obliquely dark and a keeper ... 18 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback
When I first read this book I had no idea what it was - even now, I struggle to explain it to others. It's a list book, but written before the list book genre took hold of publishing, it's a romance, but of a dark and elegantly twisted type, it's a buddy book, but the buddies are an easily-influenced and slightly eccentric woman and her worldly-wise, confident best friend, it's a story about relationships and also about the gap between the outside world and the interior life and how each individual fills that gap with myths, illusions, doubts and peculiarities.

Written in alphabetical format, it's actually an episodic narrative: you can't read it at random and get the best out of it, but you can re-read previous entries to be blown away by the clever foreshadowing of what's to come.

It's a book where every word counts: although you read it as if it's the frothiest of fun, there are dark currents under that surface that catch you before you realise it. You can read it at a sitting and re-read it every year without it feeling too familiar.

For me the entries are like commuting on a train - each one is a glimpse in a lit window, a snapshot of a life and as each day's journey takes you past the same window, you build those snapshots into a deck of pictures you can fan, like a flicker book, to allow you to see the story 'move' and become animated in front of your eyes. Oddly, the more static the entry (like 'yellow') the more animation it adds to the narrative.

It's also a lovely book, warm and clever without ever being pretentious or self-aware, but to understand its fascination you have to read it, because this is one book where the synopsis just can't to justice to the narrative as a whole.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Travelling Companion 11 Dec 2010
By Barbara
Format:Kindle Edition
In its new format, Something Beginning With makes even the most tedious journey entertaining. I loved the book as a hardback (indeed, it was a Book Club choice) and am thrilled with the Kindle edition. Although there is a story line running through the book, I find myself enjoying dipping in and out of my favourite sections which never fail to make me smile and laugh.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read beneath the surface... 17 Sep 2008
By Michelle Moore TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was published in the US as The ABCs of Love. Whatever the name, it's not an easy book to describe. It's written in an almost diary format, but the entries are alphabetically arranged. So, we have a few thoughts on Ambition, Ants and Attitude, before moving on to Baked Beans, Best Friends.. etc. In this way, Verity tells her story. It sounds odd, but it works.

We find out a little about her past, her feelings about her best friend's affair with a married man, then also Verity's own love affair, also with a married man.

On the surface, this appears to be your usual `chick lit' type book, just told in an unusual way. However, Sarah's skill is the way she writes her narrator.. she has captured a rather naive, easily-lead young girl, along with all her thoughts and feelings. It can be read as a rather straight-forward little tale, or if you look for it, you will find a lot more told between the lines. It's a book that will make you smile, then make you think.
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