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The Heart-shaped Bullet Paperback – 7 Apr 2000


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Paperback, 7 Apr 2000
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (7 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330370383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330370387
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 733,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

"Out of the nine weddings that my friend Fiona went to in 1995, five of the marriages had failed within three years"
In late 1995 Kathryn Flett seemed the epitome of a successful woman of the 1990s, with a glamorous media job, a London social life and a new husband to boot. At the age of 31 she had married the man with whom she had fallen in love just a few months previously. But by late 1997 the happy couple were going through the final stages of divorce, Flett's husband having left her earlier that year for another woman. Flett, a journalist with the Observer, used her Sunday column as an outpouring of grief. Week by week readers witnessed the disintegration of her relationship, as Flett "dipped" her pen "into a convenient jar of vitriol". Now the column has become a book, The Heart-Shaped Bullet, which painfully scrutinises the breakdown of Flett's marriage to the "commitment-phobic" Eric, her subsequent meeting with "the Boy", a younger man who also leaves her, her final inability to cope and the brief time she spent as an in-patient at a private clinic.

The new millennium seems to embrace such naked confessionals as Flett's, confusing though the mix of feelings they create might be: sympathy, perhaps even empathy, riddled with the guilt of the eager voyeur. One would hope that producing such a book has been cathartic for her; she writes with both poignancy and humour about her sorrow, yet despite the upbeat(ish) ending of The Heart-Shaped Bullet, it is evident that Flett's journey to healing is far from over. --Catherine Taylor


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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jane Macgregor on 20 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So the author gets married, gives her husband a hard time about pretty much everything, and then he leaves her.

You think she might then start to examine what she might learn from this E.g. Try not to be cruel; lose your temper; diss his friends however suburban; think the worst of him all the time. However, instead she continues in the same vein as when she was married and somehow blames the whole business on him.

The lack of self-awareness and selfishness that comes across is quite hard to stomach.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Josa Young on 8 May 2011
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed Flett's book from the 1990s very much. Moving in much the same world at that time, though not at such an elevated level (I was having babies) made the context very familiar and I was wondering who everyone was. The rushing to a breakdown at the end after an intense but ultimately unsatisfying rebound relationship was particularly moving, with brief details of several unsatisfactory parenting experiences to explain why some of us see love as so precious, that when it breaks, we break. Now I want to know very much what happened next, and how many more times 'Eric' married and dumped successive women. <goes off to find out>
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 4 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
So Kathryn Flett is in a relationship for less than 2 years. It breaks down. Big deal. Not content with keeping a very private matter private, the author documents her version of events in her weekly newspaper column. Still not satisfied with this she turns it into a book so we all get to witness her self indulgence.

Am I being too harsh? Yes, quite probably. But no harsher than the writer in question. The fact is, dispite Ms. Flett's "honest" documentation of the breakdown of her marriage I found very little about the writer herself to sympathise with. Throughout the book she constantly reveals petty, middle-class snobberies and pretensions - case in point, her derision of her husband's friends (a married couple) for living a small-town, middle class suburban life style - as opposed to what? Her own cosmopolitan, Harrod's-shopping, label-worshipping, holiday-hopping, therapy-seeking one?

Throughout the book all we get is constant criticisms of a certain life-style and continuous comparisons to her own far more fashionable and therefore far worthier one as she would like to have us believe. It gets tedious after a while. And this is the reason why I found it so difficult to sympathise, let alone empathise, with the writer.

We find out much later in the book that, surprise surprise, there are links to her current circumstances with her childhood upbringing. And, shock horror, she was a product of inadequate parenting (ie her parents were crap at being parents). Welcome to life.

The fact remains that Ms. Flett comes across as shallow and self-absorbed with few likeable qualities. I ended up feeling quite sorry for her husband - who wants to be publically humiliated? And not once but twice.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Shuttleworth on 9 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
I found this book an almost entertaining read. I did not expect it to be a fair and un-biased account of a divorce. It wasn't. It turned out to be a pretty run-of-the-mill break-up story. Run of the mill in that Ms Flett seemed to fall into the trap that so many women do, caught up in a impossibly perfect romance, going along with the romantic dream of getting married, tries to change the man, man leaves. Yawn. At times I felt empathy with the author, but it was quickly distinguished whenever she let rip with one of her cringe-worthy snobbish comments. "Can we never do that again?" was her comment to Eric after he had taken her to meet his friends who had committed that most heinous crime of deciding to live in the suburbs. Is it any wonder he had second thoughts? She berates Eric for wanting to live in a trendy part of town, then slags his friends off because they are the opposite! What does this woman want? Maybe someone who has exactly her opinions, mind set, and predjudices, moulded into a male version of herself. I can't imagine why she ever wanted to get married. In the end I found it a bit laughable towards the end. Ironically this was the bit where we were supposed to feel sorry for her I think! Worth reading but not exactly heart rending.
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Format: Paperback
But has she gone too far? After having this book on my shelf since last century I picked it up recently thinking it would be a quick read and found I got hooked by it. It was something of a retro read as I began to think what I was doing back in 1995. As I read through the book I was struck by how honest Kathryn was about her life and her relationship; painfully so. This is Kathryn’s perspective only on meeting, marrying and splitting up with her husband, all in the space of less than three years. It seems clear to me that she simply got swept away by a guy she really didn’t know that well at all and who later on saw her as a complete stranger in their marriage. I can’t help thinking that she was in love with the idea of marriage and rushed into it, particularly after the disasters she recounted before meeting Eric, at the first sign of what looked to be serious intentions. She just wanted to settle down. I wasn’t aware at the beginning that this was a serialised column in the Observer in the same way as Liz Jones’s Diary – which I find very irritating and self-indulgent - and I do have some sympathy for Eric in that he found himself being written about regularly. But far more sympathy is reserved for Kathryn. She was treated very badly by an immature commitment-phobe (though he did go on to remarry and have three children, and is still with the younger wife as far as I am aware). So – did he grow up, or did he simply meet the right woman at last? He seemed to play around with both his first two wives’ emotions. I thought sending dead roses on Valentine’s Day a very odd thing to do, and some of the revelations about Eric were a little embarrassing. It was a very painful story and I felt it was well written, honest and just verging on the side of oversharing.
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