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The Intimates [Paperback]

Guy Mankowski
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

26 Mar 2011
The Intimates believe they are the epitome of glamour. For this group of eclectic friends, life is a playground as they sing, act, and write their way to their dream lifestyles.

But not is all as it seems.

Invited to celebrate one evening together, there is a sinister undertone that threatens to expose each of these brilliantly talented failures. Dark secrets unravel, and ugly truths are revealed as each person desperately tries to hide what s buried beneath the shimmering surface.

Each trapped in a pristine image their masks begin to slip and, for some, start to disintegrate in a way that will alter their lives forever.

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The Intimates + Letters from Yelena
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (26 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907756469
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907756467
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 829,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Guy Mankowski was raised on the Isle of Wight, before being taught by monks at Ampleforth College, York. He formed a Dickensian pop band called Alba Nova, and released an EP on Comfort Records. After that he trained as a psychologist at The Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London. His debut novel, The Intimates, was chosen as a 'Must Read' title by New Writing North's Read Regional campaign. His second, Letters from Yelena, won an Arts Council Literature Prize. He travelled to Russia to research it in the world of Russian ballet, and was one of the first English people given access to the world-famous Vaganova Academy. An extract from the book was used in GCSE training material by Osiris Educational in 2014. You can follow him on Twitter @Gmankow.

Product Description


`The Intimates manages that all too rare feat of being a deeply psychological character study whilst at the same time playing out as a bonafide page-turner. Excellently paced, insightfully created, and with moments of genuine genius, The Intimates is an opulently written, high concept piece which explores the psychology of human relationships. Mankowski has a timeless style- highly polished and brilliantly evocative.' --A.J. Kirby, author and reviewer for The New York Journal of Books

'A clever conceit and a compelling narrative.' --Edward Stourton, BBC broadcaster, journalist and author.

`A huge accomplishment. With expert prose Mankowski draws the reader into a world where layers of secrets are slowly and skilfully stripped away. Lyrical and yet accessible, with character dynamics to die for.' --Gary Murning, author of `If I Never'

`An intricately wrought and enchanting first novel, The Intimates is a measured, literary piece of work as hauntingly evocative of its setting and characters as Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer prize winner Housekeeping.' --Abigail Tarttelin, actress and author of `Flick'

'From one of the most exciting young authors on the literary scene, this is a fascinating debut novel where love, ambition and jealousy collide. Described as 'the modern Great Gatsby', this is a glamorous read for the train journey to work.' --Rookie Magazine

'Mankowski's ability to construct and develop his characters is formidable and the execution of this skill adds to the compelling nature of the book. The reader is taken on a journey through a vast array of intensive and moving experiences. Fascinating and compelling, 'The Intimates' is a deep and challenging book.definitely worth a read.' -- The View From Here magazine

'An intoxicating story of a dinner party between old friends set in a glamorous, affluent world that seems to be decaying from within. Rich with thoughtful, self-analyzing dialogue, The Intimates is crying out for dramatization.' -- Culture Magazine

The Intimates has been selected as a key title for Read Regional 2011.

The Intimates has been selected as a key title for Read Regional 2011.

About the Author

Guy was raised on the Isle of Wight before being taught by monks at Ampleforth College, York. After graduating with a Masters from Newcastle University and a Psychology degree from Durham, Guy formed a Dickensian pop band called Alba Nova, releasing one EP. After that he started working as a psychologist at The Royal Hospital in London, writing during any free moment he could get. Guy now works at a psychotherapy clinic in Newcastle.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very skillful and thoroughly enjoyable 21 May 2011
By Duncan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. The interplay between the characters is intruiging and so well captured - the fine details of the way they communicate with each other are very sharply perceived which gives them life and makes it something pretty much anyone can relate to. The relationships between then and the way these are gradually revealed draws you in to the book and I think makes it a real page-turner. Looking forward to the next one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating social commentary 1 April 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Intimates details an extremely lavish lawn-party & it's guests; it's a party thrown in honour of one of the group, Francoise, who has released her first novel aptly called "The Intimates" which is based on her cohorts, her group of friends from childhood that has often been referred to as the eponymous "Intimates". She has invited everyone of their close-knit group to celebrate the release and to read an excerpt of her book to them - at least that's how it seems at the start of the party. But when the reunion forces each character to face their own shortcomings, flaws in their personality or their own ugly past, tempers rise & secrets let slip - will the group of Intimates ever be the same after this evening?

Mankowski writes with incredible eloquence, his descriptions of the black-tie do brings to mind scenes of the greatest of bourgeois soirees; champagne-fountains, butlers, tuxedos & ball-gowns, ice-sculptures, charades, music and of course, the huge stately manor & grounds that the entire thing plays out in. What follows is the building up of eight separate characters and the introduction to all of their foibles and their interaction & histories with each other.

The characters are interesting and widely varied (A novelist, painter, musician, dancer, actress, playwright, drag-queen and the narrator) and it is their interplay that drives this story. The action could easily be taken from a Chekov play as the conversations generally take place with all the characters in the same room whilst characters whisper aside to each other. Mankowski has managed to keep this dynamic fresh and exciting as we see infidelities, envy, failure, hopes & tragedy flow mellifluously from every conversation.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Expanding Novella Problem 13 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
How do we fictionalise our own lives? What is the difference between the dream and reality? And what does it take to make us understand - and perhaps live with - the knowledge of who we truly are?

These are the concerns of Guy Mankowski's The Intimates. A group of eight, "The Intimates" share a past framed by hopes and dreams of a glittering future. Regrouping after a number of years, the Intimates celebrate the publication of a novel written about them, and by comparing the fictionalisation of their future with the reality of their failure to live up to these dreams are forced to reassess their lives.

The central concept is a strong one, as is the structure: the "novel within a novel" works as an interesting symbol, as goes the ice-sculpture tableau which melts into dissolution along with the destruction of their dreams. And the beginning is also powerful, proleptically referencing the inevitable descent ito chaos at the novel's climax.

There are echoes here of The Great Gatsby in the way characters take refuge in an assumed ornate, ostentatious elegance, and also of Brideshead Revisited in the (well-observed) depiction of the relationship between Vincent and his father. Guy Mankowski also has a keen eye for description, and these passages are strengths of the novel.

However, there are also problems that prevent this being consistently satisfying. First, the overuse of dialogue to carry the plot makes for some ponderous reading: this is not helped by the fact that the dialogue of the (several) characters is not sufficiently differentiated in style or tone. The beginning and ending are also better paced than the middle, where revelations come slowly. The author in his Acknowledgements mentions that the novel was expanded from an original novella: I suspect that maintaining this genre would have produced a more sustained and more compelling read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Matthew
I read somewhere - perhaps on this very forum - that The Intimates is reminiscent of Waugh's `Vile Bodies'. I'm not sure that I agree.
They are similar in that they both concern the machinations of a group of people that can loosely be termed `Bright Young Things', but there the comparison ends.

Waugh's work is a brilliantly disjointed parody of British society in the 1920's. The novel's poignancy rests in its backdrop of insouciance amid the tribulations of two world wars.

Meanwhile, Mankowski's work is set in a timeless fairyland: The Fountains. We never learn where The Fountains is situated or even when it existed. Perhaps it's an elaborately extended bungalow in Essex. It really doesn't matter. What matters is that extraneous events are of little importance in this narrative. Mankowski explores, in detail, the private neuroses of each of the so-called `intimates'. They are all paradigms of wasted potential, waning idealism, and sapped morality. Their fate is mirrored beautifully in the disintegration of their surroundings; what begins elegantly, culminates in chipped glasses, thawing ice-sculptures, and a barren swimming pool.

Does the communal sense of bitterness make the characters dislikeable? Not in the slightest. In their fallibility they become human and identifiable. The only characters that are truly contemptuous are Vincent's father and his insufferable crony, Anthony. If we dislike any of the intimates it may be because we recognise their traits in ourselves.

The Intimates is a thought-provoking, nostalgic and, at times, a challenging debut novel.

As a note in addendum, I would like to remark that The Intimates reminded me of a 19th Century gothic novel.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Bright Young Things
This is an intriguing first novel, by an author with an intriguing past. His biography says that he was once part of a "Dickensian pop band", which sounds like fun. Read more
Published on 28 Jan 2012 by Rob Spence
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming.
A delicious narrative with twists and intrigues enough to continuously excite the minds pallet. Impossible to put down - even to make a cup of tea.
Published on 29 Oct 2011 by Pavlova21
5.0 out of 5 stars A disinctive debut
I liked this book. A lot. It's clever, it's different and it's ambitious. It won't be everybody's cup of tea. Read more
Published on 19 Sep 2011 by dave1969
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my kind of thing...
I've seen a number of very positive reviews for this book and I can appreciate it's construction as a story but it just didn't fire my imagination. Read more
Published on 1 Aug 2011 by Benjamin J. Whitehouse
4.0 out of 5 stars review of the intimates
With a beautiful and characterful style of writing, Mankowski tells the story of the `Intimates'. This is a thought-provoking book about relationship with friends and one's own... Read more
Published on 31 July 2011 by s81
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just an excellent first novel...
I have always been a little mistrustful about first novels. For every `Mockingbird', there are myriad examples where you sense the author has yet to grow into their skin, find... Read more
Published on 10 Jun 2011 by Chrisy
5.0 out of 5 stars A colossal talent.
Think Sarah Kane's `Crave', but alluringly saturated in lyrical beauty and psychological intrigue. The Intimates is an incredibly accomplished debut novel from my new favourite... Read more
Published on 27 May 2011 by Merrington
2.0 out of 5 stars Inmates
A group of friends being brought together for a party to gauge their successes and failures should be quite an interesting plot. Read more
Published on 28 April 2011 by Mr. B. W. Haynes
3.0 out of 5 stars Obviously a talented writer, but not yet a talented novelist
In a country home a group of friends meet up for a party to ostensibly celebrate the launch of one of their number's debut novel. Read more
Published on 13 April 2011 by Mingo Bingo
4.0 out of 5 stars People who think they're it
We start with a man waking up in an empty swimming pool. For some reason I decided that he must be in Los Angeles, but as the book went on wasn't so sure, and I'm still not sure... Read more
Published on 13 April 2011 by Mrs. R.
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