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The Bower Bird [Paperback]

Ann Kelley
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 May 2007
Death: I know, or I think I know that death will only be nothingness, but I don't want oblivion yet. I want to smell honeysuckle in the dark, I want to hear my cat greet me with her special purring mew; I want to smell old books. I want everything, clouds, sunshine, I want to see a whale - I've never seen a whale. I even want to hear the terrifying sound of the sea in a storm. I want a boy to kiss me one day. I want to run along a beach again. I want to go to America and Australia. There are so many books I want to read. I want to live. Gussie lives in Cornwall and, like most 12-year-olds, is quickly growing up. She is also awaiting news of a heart transplant operation. When Gussie moves from the coast to a new house in town, she rebels, discovers her ancestors and an interest in photography, falls in love and has parent troubles; all whilst experiencing general adolescent angst and trying not to wait for what might never happen.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Luath Press Ltd (10 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905222793
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905222797
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.4 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,310,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ann Kelley left her convent high school at 17, married at 18 and had two children. She is now a novelist, poet and photographer and lives on the edge of a cliff in Cornwall with her second husband and two cats. After surviving several winter disasters including being struck by lightning they now move to the town during the worst of the weather, to live next door to her daughter and grandchildren. Ann has had several books published including two poetry collections, two books of photographs, and an audio book of cat stories and the novels The Burying Beetle, Bower Bird, and Inchworm. She has won several awards including the Costa Children's Book of the Year for Bower Bird. Her books Koh Tabu and Dark Eden are published by Oxford University Press.

Product Description


'Brilliant' --Mail on Sunday

The world of life and death, beauty and truth seen through the eyes of a 12 year old girl. A rare and beautiful book of lasting quality - we felt this is a voice that needs to be heard and read.' --Costa Award Judges

'It's a lovely book - lyrical, funny, full of wisdom. Gussie is such a dear - such a delight and a wonderful character, bright and sharp and strong, never to be pitied for an instant.' --HELEN DUNMORE, author of 'Ingo'. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ann Kelley is a photographer and prize-winning poet who once nearly played cricket for Cornwall. She has previously published a collection of poems and photographs, a book of photos of St Ives families and an audio book of cat stories. She lives with her second husband and several cats on the edge of a cliff in Cornwall where they have survived a flood, a landslip, a lightning strike and the roof blowing off. She runs courses for medics and has spoken about her work with patients at several medical conferences. She also runs courses for aspiring poets at her home. Her book The Burying Beetle was published by Luath Press in May 2005 and was short-listed for the prestigious Branford Boase Award for 'an outstanding first novel to a first-time writer of a book for young people.'

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy Costa winner 5 Mar 2008
This is one of the most beautiful and evocative novels I have read in a long time. Gussie's honesty and naivity, her simple desire to live her life to the full, is powerful and captivating. She is precocious and engaging. This is a worthy winner of the Costa Children's Award, but do not be put off, this is a book that will appeal to adults and children a like. Gussie's narrative voice shows a candour that would spark a smile in any hardened grown-up. I think Gussie's zest for life can teach many people a thing or two about living.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real gem, poetic and beautiful 17 Oct 2007
By Suzie
I was attracted to this little book by the grainy, almost melancholy monochrome cover - the sea and a lowering sky - and then noted the recommendation by Helen Dunmore. I'm a fan of Helen Dunmore so decided to see what was inside.

I liked the writing - poetic, with beautiful descriptions. For instance, on the first page of Chapter One, 'The lights of the little town are twinkling below me, and there is a nearly full moon - its blue-white wedding veil draped across the bay.' I love descriptions like that, so I bought the book.

The narrator is Gussie Stevens, a twelve-year suffering from a congenital heart condition from which she will die unless she undergoes major surgery - a heart/lung transplant. But will the organs become available in time? It sounds morbid and depressing, and nearly put me off buying the book, but it isn't like that at all. It's a gem of a book, bright, positive, and amusing. As Helen Dunmore says, Gussie is a wonderful character. She has an infectious zest for life (although at times I wondered if she seemed rather more mature and better informed than a twelve-year-old would be). And in the early chapters I began to wonder if her interactions with her three cats and their interactions with each other were going to become rather tedious. But they didn't. Gussie's observations on her mother's new relationship, on her parents' failed relationship, on the beautiful, flirty girl who seems to have attracted Gussie's own special friend Brett, and on life in general, are a delight to read. I really felt I knew her, and it seemed very important that she live.
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3.0 out of 5 stars More for a teenage reader. 18 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Gussie the main character is very loveable and has lots of friends because of her warm personality. The reader forgets how ill she is as her attitude to life is so positive. I just felt the book was more suited to teenage readers.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Teenage book 24 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thought this was an adults' book as it was recommended to me, but its really a read for teenagers. Hvaing said that its a new area to cover and its an engaging if light read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Easy but poignant and funny 19 Feb 2014
By M. Hall
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Lovely use of English; realistic story - you are right in the mind of that little girl and marvel at her pragmatism.
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