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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars26
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 28 January 2012
This is the second Louise Doughty novel I have read. I reviewed `Whatever you Love' on Amazon last year and still feel a bit guilty about only giving it four stars when it was such a riveting read. For a while I have been meaning to back-track and discover some of her earlier works. I'm glad I did.

Stone Cradle has an altogether different feel about it and I don't think you would particularly connect the authorial styles - a plus, I think, because it's an indicator of a versatile writer. It's not such a page-turner as Whatever you Love, but is nonetheless deeply engrossing. Told from the alternate viewpoints of Clementine and Rose, her `gorger' daughter in law, it ranges across several generations of a Romany family from the nineteenth century up until 1960, but it's quite a step above the family saga type of novel, portraying what feels like an authentic picture of Romany life in and around Peterborough during that period. The characterisation is strong and the setting evocative. After this I will put Doughty on my list of must-read authors. She's a very accessible writer and storyteller but her work is of a high quality. She clearly has a good reputation but deserves to be even more well known.
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on 3 May 2015
Stone Cradle is a book that makes me want to give up writing. It is as near perfect as writing can get, and makes me question whether I can ever get even half-way as good.
I read quite analytically these days – all too often I spot the strings on the puppets or the hand of the puppeteer, or their bald head poking up. But Stone Cradle is flawless – all I could do was stand in awe of the writer’s skill and get carried away with the story. It’s one of those books I want to buy for everyone I know.
There are two main points of view – Clementina and Rose. It is not that they are unreliable narrators, to use the jargon – both tell different aspects to the story and though their accounts are often contrary you find yourself empathising with and believing the credibility of both.
The research behind it is thorough – so much so that most readers probably won’t realise the hours that went into constructing the story, brick by brick – it all seems to flow so effortlessly.
The novel captures superbly a core truth about families: their strifes, misunderstandings, loves and missed opportunities.
I don’t like giving stars to books – they all have their own merits and many deserve reading for different reasons, but I have no hesitation with this – it is one of the best novels I have read in years – Booker winners and classics of English Literature included.
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on 6 June 2006
I very much enjoyed Stone Cradle. I loved the setting of the Fens and the vividness with which Miss Doughty portrayed the landscape and how it affected the characters. The two women, mother in law and daughter in law, from two different cultures, and their antagonisms, and yet grudging acceptance of each other over the years, was so rich and earnest. This is a book to get lost in, to relish the writing as well as the story, to be stopped in the midst of the flow by a description. As well as this the lives of the Romanies are honestly and lovingly, yet without sentimentality, brought to life within Stone Cradle.

I also enjoyed Fires In The Dark by Louise Doughty.
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on 15 August 2009
I didnt want to read this book initially as the subject matter didnt grab me, but in the end I loved it. The relationship between mother and daughter in law is well written and surprisingly tender. The shift in point of view well handled especially when covering the same event when Doughty highlights how people can see things differently. Doughty is a marvellous observationist and puts a lot of this into her writing bringing it to life. I like the unobvious title too as it picks up on a small but ultimately significant part of the story.
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on 2 July 2009
This book was an unexpected pleasure. The writing was good, nothing jarred, I fell easily into the story. I think the way the chapters swapped POV from mother-in-law to daughter-in-law was effective. I really liked the vivid and vibrant world of the Romany people that the author created. The author also conveyed how people can live their whole lives not really understanding each other. Excellent.
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on 29 January 2010
A wonderful and timeless story of two strong-willed women who dislike each other but slowly and with great difficulty learn to accept each other because they share the common love of their family. I loved it!
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on 27 May 2016
AppleTree Yard was so brilliant- 5 stars but this.......... Hugely disappointed- No I didn't expect a carbon copy but I did think I'd get a highly enjoyable read- sadly not so- I couldn't care less about any of the characters, they were highly annoying and the book seemed to drag. I was also immensely irritated by not being able to look up terms/words that were foreign/unfamiliar to me and I whole heartedly disagree with the author's assertion that I didn't need to know them all and only needed to know one term- other books can have a glossary is it really that difficult.
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on 19 February 2015
Worth a read, but only if you are in a good mood. It is unremitting drudgery following the lives of gypsies Clemmie and Rosie. Unfaithful husbands, drunken fathers, unmarried mothers at a time this was a disgrace, children going to bed cold and hungry, parental abuse, its all in this book. I only kept going as I hoped for a light at the end of the story but it never appeared. I loved Apple Tree Yard but this is quite different.
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on 10 November 2014
A heartbreaking story of life on the road at the turn of the century and up until the 2 wars.
It seems unjust to the travelling people of the time but life was hard for many. The characters in the book are well drawn. There is a smattering of humour but too much sadness.
The era and history are well researched and I would recommend reading it if your not already depressed.
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on 1 March 2015
Such a different read. I cannot express enough how much I admire such an ingenious and imaginative author that can not only tell a compelling story but can use the language the characters would have. This traumatic and twisting tale of how hard life was for 19th Century gypsies surprises, shocks and amazes at every turn. Amazing.
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