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The Crow Road [Paperback]

Iain Banks
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Oct 1996
Now a BBC TV 4-part series, this novel by the author of "The Wasp Factory", describes rites of passage in a complex but enduring Scottish family. His central character's preoccupations with death, sex, drink and God are embedded in his descriptions of the Scottish landscape.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 501 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New edition edition (3 Oct 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349109079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349109077
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 806,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. He gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels. Iain Banks died in June 2013.

Product Description


His masterpiece . . . it's got a beating heart, and you want to keep reading (Jay Rayner Daily Express)

Book Description

Paperback reissue of Iain Banks' masterly novel THE CROW ROAD --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.

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It was the day my grandmother exploded. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It was the day my grandmother exploded. 11 May 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Prentice is a 22-year-old student in Glasgow, just back to his own little town of Gallanach for his grandmother's funeral. It's mostly through his eyes that we're introduced to the McHoan's family, as well as all the other funny characters that people this book. It can maybe take a while in the beginning not to get lost among all their names, not to speak about the many flashbacks that Banks uses to unfold his plot, but it's all worth the effort. Little by little you'll start putting together all the pieces in the story of the McHoan's clan, until the moment you'll find out its deepest secret... "The Crow Road" is a really entertaining book, well written and really funny most of the time. I suppose when you start a book with a sentence like "It was the day my grandmother exploded", you're really setting the tone for the entire book!

For the most curious of you, I leave you with a passage I particularly enjoyed...

"People can be teachers and idiots; they can be philosophers and idiots; they can be politicians and idiots... in fact I think they have to be... a genious can be an idiot. The world is largely run for and by idiots; it is no great handicap in life and in certain areas is actually a distinct advantage and even a prerequisite for advancement".
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter the world of Prentice McHoan 21 Jun 2009
This is only the second Iain Banks novel that I have read, the first being The Wasp Factory. Consequently, I really wasn't sure what to expect - would this be similarly dark and psychological? In some ways, yes, but essentially it is a sweeping family saga, crossing three (and almost four) generations. Despite the interweaving threads and movements back and forwards in time, Iain Banks' writing makes the story easy to follow. This is partly due to the strongly drawn characters; each is distinctive and memorable without resorting to caricature. What I loved most was the shifts between comedy, pathos, tragedy and suspense, all carefully orchestrated and never jarring. For me, it was a book that totally drew me in and I thoroughly looked forward to escaping into it on my commute to and from work each day.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest British novels of the 1990s 18 Sep 2000
Banks is a pretty honest fellow. As a writer he doesn't consciously set out to make his heros and heroines 'good', infact he certainly packs them with faults and foibles. A bit like real people in fact. Prentice is the same, and he's all the more enjoyable to listen to for it. "The Crow Road" is supremely enjoyable and, as has been said already, works in every way, delivering what you want out of it. When I first read it it spoke to me about the confusions of leaving your teenage years behind and the need to mature. Now, it's a rattling good murder mystery with some rather scathing politico dialogue thrown in. But there's more in the mix and you'd have to find it out for yourself.
When Banks signed my battered old copy a couple of years back he smiled at the state of the cracked and dog-eared and well-thumbed book, then he wrote "Ha!" on the last page which, if you've read it, you'll understand.
Love it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crow Road 21 Feb 2014
By DerekO
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Nice wee twist at the end, though I had suspected it for a while through the book. Iain Banks is not for the faint hearted though, but this first novel certainly rattles on apace to a suitable ending.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnum Opus 29 Aug 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not just Iain Banks' biggest book, but his best in my opinion. This sprawling tale of dark family secrets and unrequited love is a modern classic and highlights Banks' talent for characterisation and believable cringeworthy situations. His heroes are never without their flaws and never lose their ability to strike a chord with the reader and such is the case with the sardonic, smart alec Prentice.

Iain Banks books are always easy to read but this one requires a tad more discipline than his others as it's not always immediately obvious which of the many characters is narrating each chapter. However, the book flows beautifully and builds to a magnificent and unexpected climax.

A great read for confirmed Banks fans and the unitiated alike who wish to indulge themselves in a great read. Hats off, Mr Banks.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE CROW ROAD 29 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found the going backward and forward in time confusing and the relationship between the characters also hard to follow. The ending of the book almost Gilbertian. It took me almost hundred pages to identify all the characters. Most of the humour excellent. Still an enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Banks so far! 1 Aug 2014
The Crow Road is excellent. It’s a cross between a family saga and a whodunit. It spans several generations of a big Scottish family, and although jumping between generations can mean the book is, at times, hard to follow, it is an effective vehicle for advancing the plot. The story is also told from multiple perspectives which, when you get used to it, gives you rich flavour of what is happening.

I had only read the Wasp Factory by Banks before, and the Crow Road is no where nearly as dark, although it’s not as light hearted as someone like William Boyd. I did, find myself reminded of some Boyd books however, as Banks has deep layers to his characters as Boyd does.

There is a lot going on this book, the split in the family over religion; Prentice’s wayward ways; key people dying in odd circumstances; Uncle Hamish’s disappearance; to name but a few. There is of course lots of drinking and smoking ‘J’s.’ :)
All in all, an excellent read, that I zoomed through. I will certainly be reading more Banks in the future!
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