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The Facts of Life Paperback – 4 Nov 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (4 Nov. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753818426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753818428
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 655,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Graham and I have worked hard to promote this book within the area that it is set and the area he lives. A launch party was held in the Coventry Tourist Information Centre. It attracted a lot of local media (press and radio). Thisparty secured interviews for Graham on BBC Radio Leicester along with interviews in all the local papers (Coventry Evening Telegraph etc). All the local papers have promised a review of the book. Two Meet the Author evenings were organised in Borders Leicester and Waterstones Coventry. These consisted of ajazz band, a little free booze and the opportunity to talk to Graham about his books. Both were very successful and both bookshops sold out of books as well as receiving orders for more. Reviews so far have appeared in SFX.More are due in Starburst, The Alien on Line, Infinity Plus, Time Out and Locus.The G --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

An extraordinary evocation of an extraordinary family in WWII England by an award-winning author.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Jan. 2003
Format: Hardcover
A psychic matriarch, seven daughters and one magical boy hold center stage in Graham Joyce's latest novel, The Facts of Life, a work situated comfortably somewhere between the best mainstream fiction and the subtlest works of fantasy. Be it magical realism or literary horror, the key ingredients here, as with all of Joyce's works, are characters you can reach out and touch. And they touch you right back.

Set in during and post-WWII Coventry, England, the novel opens with "wayward ... fey" Cassie Vine and the bundle in her arms, Frank, whom she fails to give away to a prospective foster mother. Returning home to her mother, Martha and her six sisters, Cassie triggers a discussion that will set the tone and struggle for the rest of the novel. As Cassie herself "is the last girl on Earth fit to raise a child," Martha and her daughters agree that Frank should be raised by the entire clan.

Passed from Martha and Aunt Beatie Vine's own care to Aunt Una and Uncle Tom's farm, to his twin aunts Evelyn and Ina, it becomes clear that Frank is special and possessed of special abilities. Here at the farm, young Frank discovers the Man-Behind-The-Glass, a mysterious figure trapped in the Earth, constantly demanding that Frank bring him things.
Meanwhile, the secret of Frank's conception remains with Cassie, buried deep in the night that German bombers circled over Coventry dropping incendiary and explosive payloads until most of the city was leveled. Cassie, who is regularly possessed of "blue" periods during which she tends to wander far, must often leave Frank in the care of his more stable relatives, transferring him from household-to-household, including an experimental commune and a house with an active mortuary parlor in the back.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Rikki K on 27 Dec. 2002
Format: Hardcover
This beautiful writer gets better and better...I cant describe how this book works its magic. Its funny and dark in turns but it was easily the best book I've read in the last ten years. There are so many beautiful characters in this but more importantly you get the preciousness of life, the humour of life, the madness of family life. I have read Graham Joyce before and all very good to but this is on a different plane. Every page was a deep joy for me and I started reading it slowly as I got to the end because I didn't want it to end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Danel P. Olson on 20 July 2010
Format: Paperback
As another reviewer put it, this truly is a book to savour. One could, for instance, suitably chew on Godiva chocolate as the characters muse, sometimes hilariously, on Coventry's famed Lady Godiva.
I am enjoying re-reading it now, a year after I first encountered its truly alive Vine family. I find myself pausing at the end of lines wondering, "Just how did Graham Joyce do this?" He certainly has ears that hear all, and the dialogue seems like the people of Coventry actually speaking to us.
It is all a terrific accomplishment that will make you an instant fan of his.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dearbhla on 4 July 2005
Format: Paperback
I've read a few books now by Joyce, and this has to be my favourite so far. Set during, and just after, the London Blitz of WWI, this book tells the story of Cassie, her family, and her son Frank.
We first meet Cassie as she is about to give up her child to another family. She has already had a daughter who was taken in by a childless couple. But as she watches the minutes tick by, she decides to keep her son. Arriving home to her family she tells them all she is keeping Frank. Her mother, Martha, decides that maybe there is something special about Frank, so she agrees, provided the six other daughters help out with raising Frank.
As a result we see the lies of this family through Frank's eyes as he moves from sister to sister, from farmlife to the almost pristine house of his twin aunts, to a commune. It soon becomes clear that Frank has inherited some of his mother's feyness and some of his grandmother's ability to talk to the dead.
There is some wonderful writing in this book, when Frank tries to imitate his pregnant Aunt peeing for example. Comic touches can be found everywhere, as can potential threats to Frank and the family
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Williamson on 9 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
Just like a luscious belgian chocolate or a fine glass of wine, this book should be savoured and read slowly. Each chapter is so beautifully written and yet it appears to have been so effortlessly created. This is a story of a family you will remember for a long time. Each character is meticulously drawn with both humour and honesty. This was the first novel by Graham Joyce I had read but I will be searching for another one very soon.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Feeling shocked and quite impotent at the sad news of the horribly premature death of Graham Joyce I sat down to read what I believe to be his finest book for a second time. Whether it is still his best work, they are all so damned good, is of course open to debate but what is for certain is that 'The Facts of Life' is a particularly well crafted piece of writing and story telling. As ever with Joyce's work, the characters are as beautifully drawn as the landscape they inhabit and the plot quickly grabs one's imagination making this a very difficult book to put down. Part ghost story, part fantasy and part social commentary/history, this novel, set largely in wartime and post war Coventry, includes - amongst many other aspects - some of the most vivid and harrowing descriptions of life in wartime Britain that I have ever read. With next year witnessing the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII the filming of this work would surely make a very fitting and lasting tribute to the memory of both the late, great Graham Joyce and the almost forgotten casualties of places like Coventry, Liverpool and - let's not forget - Dresden, from barely a lifetime ago. Perhaps politicians throughout the world would do well to read the author's account of the horrific bombing of Coventry, surely passed down via first hand local and family recollection, before glibly announcing yet another 'wave of air strikes'.
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