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The First Book of Calamity Leek [Hardcover]

Paula Lichtarowicz
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

7 Feb 2013

Books tell you what to believe.

Books explain the world around you.

What if a book had been written to explain a world constructed only for you?

What if that world suddenly fell apart?

Calamity Leek needs a new book. But she's going to have to write it herself.


Frequently Bought Together

The First Book of Calamity Leek + The Last Time I Saw You + Gone Girl
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson (7 Feb 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0091944228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091944223
  • Product Dimensions: 22.5 x 14.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 712,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Wonderfully strange" (Mark Haddon, author of THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME)

"This hypnotic debut novel - one of the hottest reads of the year - is no ordinary book. It combines pitch-perfect teen angst with a fantastical setting and premise; as much a hymn to reading as a gripping story." (Elle)

"This is an utterly original, intriguing and intense book which thrills the reader with its story and language. This is the start of a stunning career. Paula L is to be congratulated hugely . . . it's so good to encounter real individuality and freshness and an identifiable, strong, creative voice." (Bidisha)

"A fantastic novel, and a really exciting and engaging new voice. The fact that the reader has to work hard to understand this world makes it all the more compelling, and it packs quite an emotional punch when we realise what's going on. I couldn't put it down, and loved the voice of Calamity, and her vulnerability and reliance on her world, while the reader could see it cracking wide open, was heartbreaking." (Jess Richards, author of SNAKE ROPES)

"Deeply perplexing . . . as hints of the reality behind the fantasy start to emerge, the story develops its own peculiar and intense momentum." (Nick Rennison Sunday Times)

Book Description

Introducing the stunningly original new voice of Paula Lichtarowicz and the extraordinary Calamity Leek: a girl who has never been allowed outside the garden wall, until now.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizzarre, surreal and stunningly good. 19 Mar 2013
By Book Critic VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It was quite a while before I began to enjoy this. The style is peculiar. It was hard work. For the first several chapters, I had absolutely no idea what was going on (and not sure if I cared very much, either). But then, just as I was wondering if anything was ever going to happen (or indeed, make any sense at all), the fog began to lift, the story began to emerge, the horror of the situation showed its petticoats and suddenly, I was absolutely riveted to the tale of poor, damaged Calamity Leek and her `sisters', who live monastic lives, cloistered behind the high walls of a garden they are forbidden to leave. All their lives, they have lived in strict accord with the rules of their bizarre religion. Until the day that Trudy Polperro dared to peek over the wall...

The story is weird and the characters, positively bizarre - like Aunty, the girl's apparent guardian: a failed theatrical wannabee, straight out of Julian Clary's Devil in Disguise. And the even weirder Mother, in her wheelchair and sunglasses, a grotesque straight out of Psychoville.

Extreme, bizarre, surreal and riveting. Very strange and very good.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a mad world... 10 Feb 2013
By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This rather fine debut novel is one of those that defy easy pigeonholing. A group of girls live in a walled community looked after by Aunty with visits from Mother. They cultivate roses, look after pigs, and sew cushions. At first it appears that the setting might be medieval for they live in a barn with straw beds and furs for blankets; but then I thought it might be a post-apocalypse dystopia, which is closer to the mark. It does gradually become clear though, and the story of how things came to be this enclosed world will surprise and horrify in equal measure.

The story is narrated by Calamity Leek, who is one of the older girls in the group. Having grown up believing that the world beyond the wall is full of injuns and that she is being prepared for war she has, to us, a distinctly odd world-view. When another of the oldest girls, Truly Polperro makes a failed attempt to get over the wall, Calamity, who is the keeper of the Index (an ever-expanding book of rules the girls live by), has a hard time believing that Truly wanted to go and what she might have seen. Truly's desperate act of rebellion will change everything...

This was not an easy book to read at first, given Calamity's limited life experience and upbringing by Aunty. Her language is full of a mishmash of terms. The timeline also jumps about, so it's hard to be sure about anything in the beginning. The imagery however is rich, and the promise of revelations to come kept me reading to the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, gripping and thoughtful 7 Oct 2013
By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I thought this was a very good book - thoughtful, readable and with some important things to say.

Narrated in the first person by the young Calamity Leek, we learn of the world inhabited by her and her "sisters" and the strange myths and ideologies which they believe and by which they live. To say more would be too much of a spoiler, but there are echoes of Emma Donoghue's Room and Anne Holm's I Am David. Paula Lichtarowicz uses this device to throw a sideways and often revealing light on some of our attitudes in society, especially those of men toward women, and of women toward men and toward each other. It sounds terribly worthy and turgid, but is nothing of the kind because the storytelling is so good.

What makes this special is Calamity's voice, which is charming, believable and very engaging. Lichtarowicz has the insight and courage to make Calamity the compliant believer in the strange and increasingly disturbing myths which they are peddled, rather than the usual feisty heroine who refuses oppression, which gives the narrative real power rather than just making it a run-of-the-mill adventure story. The story itself is excellently paced and structured, so that the truth of what is happening emerges slowly and compellingly. I found myself completely gripped for long periods.

I have to say that, in the cold light of day, the set-up and the psychology and back-stories of Mother and Aunty are thoroughly implausible, and if this were written as a thriller to which this was the solution it would be laughable. However, that's not the point of the book and it is redeemed by the terrific storytelling and the delightful, believable - and sometimes naively horrifying - narrative voice.

This wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it very much and it has some real substance. Recommended as an engrossing, enjoyable and thoughtful read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre but totally brilliant 24 Aug 2013
By Beanie Luck Spud TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is undoutably the strangest book i have ever read, and i mean that in a good way.

You arent exactly sure what is going on to begin with and i really struggled to keep reading it.

However perseverance pays off because it then becomes something just wonderful.

It is impossible to describe the story without giving everything away, it truly is a book you need to experience for yourself.

Captivating, imaginative, thoroughly original and unlike anything i have ever read before, this will fill your imagination, creep you out, makes you think, and lift your soul.

Loved it !!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weirdly compelling 14 April 2013
By Laura Smith VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Wow, this book sounded strange in the description, but I was not prepared for the reality! This is quite difficult reading at first, as the style is very different and the world in the book is so far removed from what we are used to. I don't want to go too much into the content as I think it will spoil the book for others, but this is thought compelling, strange, but above all, brilliant. A very clever and well written piece that will be totally different to anything else you have read!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked the book, but hated it too!
This is the second strangest book I have ever read: the first being A Clockwork Orange! At first I didn't really know what was going on and I think this continued for at least the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by DaisyDaisy
5.0 out of 5 stars very original
I read the paperback version. I give high praise to Paula Lichtarowicz who has managed to write a very original book that stands out alone. Read more
Published 8 months ago by ireadnovels
4.0 out of 5 stars Such solidarity in the sisterhood
The First Book of Calamity Leek is sad, sweet and funny at the same time.

The story is of Calamity Leek and her sisters Maria Liphook, Sandra Saffron Walden, Dorothy... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Tim Roast
5.0 out of 5 stars creating dystopia
This book reminds me strongly of a re-imagined Handmaid's Tale, by way and language of Russell Hoban (author of the wonderful post apocalyptic novel Riddley Walker). Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ruth
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of The First Book Of Calamity Leek
When I read the blurb for this book on net galley I was really intrigued. I thought it sounded like a pretty cool book and couldn't wait to get stuck into it. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about the book as another world
On beginning to read The First Book of Calamity Leek, the first thing I was reminded of was William Faulkner's The Sound And The Fury (Vintage Classics) - which is no bad thing, in... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ian Shine
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and interesting
I was really looking forward to reading this book and I have not been let down. That is not to say it is an easy read, it is an interesting, complex and often challenging read but... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Grr
5.0 out of 5 stars creepy
It is so hard to review this book without giving anything away. But imagine that a child will accept anything they are told & what if in reality that learning was the complete... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mrs. Denny S. Abeykoon
5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare to be blown away
Once in awhile, a reader is lucky enough to come across a book which is utterly original, uncategorisable, and impossible to forget. Read more
Published 14 months ago by J. Dawson
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't give up!
Like other reviewers I found this book incredibly difficult to get into and engage with, but I'm so glad that I persevered. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Sarah Durston
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