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The Descendants Paperback – 3 Jan 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 283 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd (3 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224081373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224081375
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,402,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Full of dark humour and astute observations, this is a deftly written rumination on the meaning of family and ancestry' -- Big Issue

`Hemmings deftly treads between sweetness and schmaltz... mischievous humour propels a simple tale of a dysfunctional family's coming together.' -- New Statesman

`darkly funny ... sharp story of emotional and sexual awakening... this quietly affecting story boasts a truly appealing comic creation' -- Metro

'Hemmings' assured touch...ensures that this novel steers a deliciously scenic route between heartbreak and hilarity.'
-- Daily Mail

'Hemmings' quirkily assured touch, her grasp of the absurd ... ensures this novel's balance between heartbreak and hilarity'
-- Marie Claire

'a brave and intelligent novel'
-- Sunday Telegraph

'a well-plotted, unexpectedly twisting saga' -- Guardian

'an enjoyable and enlightening ride.' -- The Big Issue Cymru

`Hemmings is an assured and subtle writer' -- Observer

`Simply penned and fast moving...[Matt King's] journey towards redemption is as hilarious as it is poignant' -- Psychologies

Book Description

Now a major motion picture starring George Clooney. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By H. Callaghan VINE VOICE on 5 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The Descendants" is a tragicomic novel about Matt, workaholic father of two daughters and husband to the high maintenance Joanie, who is in a coma and whose life support has been switched off. The book is concerned with Matt and his daughters' quest to track down Joanie's lover and tell him that this will be the last chance to say goodbye.

I really enjoyed this, despite the fact that it revolves around an irreversible coma - Joanie as revealed is so unlikeable that her fate never really depresses you. The daughters (one 10 and one 17) are finely drawn (as is Alex' sort-of boyfriend) and as for Matt, just when you think he is most whipped, he surprises you with a show of grit.

I would never normally read a novel like this - not big on comic novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and the revelation about the business connections in the middle of the book was absolutely compulsive. I would definitely read something else by this author.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. M. York VINE VOICE on 14 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For a first book this is a spectacular success in my opinion. Whilst the story itself is not in itself particularly breathtaking, the way in which it is written as well as the characters and the various incidents throughout make it a particularly entertaining read. The story in itself is basically that of a wealthy yet dysfunctional family viewed through the eyes of the emotionally disconnected father, who has to come to terms with the fact that his wife will not come out of her coma and that he has no idea how to look after his two daughters in her absence. What ensues is a number of incidents with his daughters as they try to come to terms with each other and the major change that will soon happen in their lives.

Though this could be considered quite a heavy subject the book is written with a lot of good humour, though I do not usually laugh whilst reading this book did encourage a few giggles - something that very rarely happens with me. At the same time the book has a lot of heart, as though the main character is frustratingly unemotional you do get a clear feeling that to him life has suddenly changed violently and he is not sure how to deal with it. The characters are all rendered fantastically, especially his unusual daughter Scottie who continued to make me laugh throughout. The core of the story is adapting to change and that families will survive in one way or another. Fabulously well written.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Maclennane VINE VOICE on 27 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The deeper Joanie King slips into a coma, the more Matt King wakes up. This is a lazily beautiful novel about an astute, comfortable, educated man, who slowly realises that all he has assumed is false; not in a road to Damascus-style revelation, and not in a way which makes him greatly uncomfortable, but none the less profoundly.

His daughters are growing up, but not in the way he imagined from the dstance of the office, his wife has secrets, and he is not as helpless to fate as he once thought.

The writing is wonderful, pace matching the setting which is integral to the book. Hawaii is written about with love and relaxed realism. The author is never tempted down the clichéd trying-too-hard route of extensive passages in pidgin and the matter-of-factness is engaging.

Perhaps most importantly, the story takes no enormous twists, but frequently when you think you can see the end result of a set of actions, the course of the story guides away from the obvious, giving the book the feeling of something which greew naturally and of its own accord, rather than pretty words hanging from a scaffold of plot.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By O E J TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Funny in places, well written with an excellent flowing style from the point of view of a man whose wife is in a coma, and who has to come to terms with some disturbing revelations about his wife and two daughters. This is a tale of how a man learns to re-adjust after finding out that his life was different to all that he had believed.

Not really my cup of tea however. It was a thought-provoking idea that failed to maintain my interest right through to its conclusion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Crazy Bald Heid VINE VOICE on 25 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an unusual novel in a number of ways, funny and poignant despite its underlying morose subject matter. And how many novels are set in Hawaii?

The tale is observed through the eyes of Matt King a land wealthy descendent of a noble Hawaiian family whose beautiful and apparently self centred wife Joanie lies comatose in hospital after a speed boating accident.

Matt is informed that Joanie will never recover. In compliance with her living will the machines are to be turned off. Matt being of both noble birth and soul decides to tell all of Joanie's loved ones the news and encourage them to bid their vegatative friend farewell. The visit to Joanies parents is particularly memorable.

The family goes on an odyssey of sorts visting friends and relatives to bear the sad tidings, including seeking out the hitherto unknown boyfriend as Matt figured it's what Joanie would have wanted.

That's the premise which is ok in and of itself, but its the rounded if dysfunctional characters and the sharp and comic dialogue that crackles between Matt's two bratty daughters that gives the book life; sexually precocious and unhinged Scottie and older sister boarding school incarcerated wild child Alex (with dopey male "friend" Sid permanently in tow). Hemmings manages to bottle sibling rivalry here beautifully and give the girls vulnerability without ever resorting to the saccharine.

There is more to the novel than in this brief precis - but these need to be discovered by the reader. A surprisingly good, easy read with a lot of soul.
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