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A Song for Issy Bradley Hardcover – 19 Jun 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson (19 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091954371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091954376
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 3.6 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carys Bray was brought up in a devout Mormon family. In her early thirties she left the church and replaced religion with writing. She was awarded the Scott prize for her début short story collection Sweet Home. A Song for Issy Bradley is her first novel. She lives in Southport with her husband and four children.

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Review

"A Song For Issy Bradley is a wonderful novel, in which grace comes crabwise and miracles are never out of the question. Undeniably heartbreaking, it is also compassionate, funny and enriching." (Shelley Harris Independent on Sunday)

"Bray slips with thoroughness, imagination and dexterity into each of the characters' consciousness . . . [She] is wincingly honest and emotions are portrayed with an assurance that comes from understanding . . . A Song for Issy Bradley is a skilful and empathetic dramatisation. The fact that it deals with such distressing subject matter without falling prey to sentimentality makes it all the more admirable . . . There are some wonderful one-liners . . .Bray's greatest gift, however, is understatement." (Grace McCleen Guardian)

"Happy the debut novelist who can write well but who also has access to extraordinary subject matter. This is an impressive debut from a compassionate, wise and original new voice." (Suzi Feay Independent)

"A powerful, heart-breaking book." (Daily Express)

"I cannot remember a time when a novel has seduced me so completely . . . Bray writes with such clarity, intelligence and authenticity that it feels as if a trusted old friend is telling you the story, that the characters are people you know . . . Bray displays warmth and real wit throughout despite the tragic content of this debut novel and the lean beauty of her writing makes it effortless to read" (The Times)

"Bray explores the healing power of religion with rare assurance in one of the year's most impressive debuts." (Mail on Sunday)

"Bray brings humour, empathy and knowledge to what is fundamentally a novel about grief and faith – and whether the latter can emerge from the former unshaken. The Bradley’s don’t. And nor, I guarantee, will you. Read this if you like: Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You" (Harper's Bazaar)

"Bray performs a small miracle of her own by inhabiting each family member at every stage of the tragedy as their doubts and fears creep in . . . [and] manages it with an astonishing lightness of touch . . . A stunning, unmissable debut." (Christie Hickman Sunday Express)

"While this debut is heart-rendingly poignant with a bleak tragedy at its heart, it's also funny and vividly written." (Sunday Mirror)

"unique . . . beautifully written . . . powerful" (Daily Mail)

Book Description

‘I cannot remember when a novel has seduced me so completely…it feels as if a trusted old friend is telling you the story, that the characters are people you know’ The Times

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By sarahontheboat on 15 July 2014
Format: Hardcover
A Song for Issy Bradley is one of those books that sucks you into its world so completely that it takes a while to emerge once you're done. There's a piece in the Guardian today about book hangovers: I last used this phrase the morning I read this. And I did actually read it in one go, abandoning kids, food and washing up...

Other reviewers here have done a great job in summarising the book, so I won't repeat them here. With the story being told from the viewpoint of each family member in turn, you are immersed in the everyday life of the Bradley family, albeit a life skewed by an event that most of us won't have experienced. Here, there is the added benefit of a behind-the-scenes look at a way of life informed by Mormonism.

It's also beautifully written, with a light touch leaving plenty of space for the reader to think. I've been recommending it to everyone!

I received an advance copy, which I reviewed more fully at www.sarahjasmon.com.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Malteser on 20 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover
The basic theme of this book is grief, together with the guilt which sadly so often accompanies it, and the different ways people cope with it.

It's the story of Ian Bradley who was brought up in a Mormon family, living near Liverpool, and has risen to be a highly respected Bishop in their local Mormon community. His wife Claire converted when they met, but isn't quite as dedicated to the religion, and often resents his devotion to the community at the expense of his family, i.e. their two sons and two daughters. When tragedy strikes the family their faith is challenged and they all cope in quite individual ways.

This is very much a character driven story and all the characters are so well drawn that I really cared for them and became involved in their lives. This sounds like a grim story and it's certainly very sad in parts, but there are also some quite humorous parts. No one could fail to warm to Jacob, the younger son, as he tries to make sense, then make better, the situation for his family.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book - it gripped me from the very beginning. Carys Bray has an exceptional ability to observe the minutiae of everyday life and convey it to the reader in a compelling way. I think it's an exceptional debut novel and one of those books which will remain in my memory for a long time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Book Critic TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Dec. 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"...Al stared at the framed cross-stitch picture above the mantelpiece: 'Families are Forever'; or in other words 'You'll Never Escape."
The members of a Mormon family from Liverpool tell their tale in turn, about the tragic death of daughter/sister Issy. As a portrait of an odd church (by British standards) and absolute faith, turning to doubt, and the failure of belief, A Song for Issy Bradley is an interesting, but flawed read.
Ian Bradley is a Mormon Bishop; his faith is absolute; in the face of tragedy, all he has to do is hold on, hold fast and God will give him answers. Ian never stops believing, never thinks to question, but that's not the case for his family. In the face of such un-imaginable loss, can religion - any religion - really hold the answers each of them seeks?
I caught a little of this book when it was serialised on radio 4, found it intriguing and found myself wanting to read the book, get a better, deeper feel for the story and the characters, but it wasn't as deep as I'd hoped. I found most of the characters rather shallow, lacking depth somehow; unconvincing. The father, Ian, especially felt very contrived and stereotypical, with a stern, un-bending faith of the old fashioned type, all too ready to dismiss the grief and questions of his family because it doesn't fit with his church's view of the world which can be summed up in a quote from the book, "Women who recognize that their strength comes from the Lord's atonement do not give up during difficult and discouraging times." For Ian, everything is part of God's plan and to question it is simply wrong, and not to be countenanced.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fabulous Book Fiend on 21 Sept. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Review: I love the blurb for this book, it gives absolutely nothing away! It's going to be a lot harder to give nothing away in my review but I'll give it a go... Firstly, I love any book that teachers me something and this book taught me so much. I knew very little about the Mormon Faith before reading this book, despite doing religious studies as part of my degree) and now I feel I know so much more about the beliefs, the dynamic and the feelings of the Mormon community and so I already love this book for giving that to me.

The characters are another things I loved bout this book. I don't love any of the characters more than the others, I don't really think I necessarily liked them, but then are so well written and so genuinely portrayed on the page, they feel like real life people who could actually be living next door to me. The structure of the book is that each of them gets a chapter every now and then and you really feel your sympathy switching to whichever character it is you're reading about as the novel progresses. This is an amazing feat of writing and one which I very much admire. This sometimes made me feel a little uncomfortable but I therefore applaud the book for challenging my securities as I read!

The structure and characters are fantastic but the storyline is also good. It only takes place over a couple of months, I would've liked for it to have spanned a bit of a longer time period but I think that the short amount of time covered means that you do feel that intense relationship with the characters and everything they are going through.
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