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The Keep [Paperback]

Jennifer Egan
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

6 Mar 2008

New Yorker Danny is running from something. A loner who cannot bear to be apart from his Wi-Fi connection, he is in need of refuge. His cousin Howie is an enigmatic and successful former drug addict who just happens to own a castle.

As they turn the castle from crumbling ruin to luxury hotel, Howie and Danny must navigate their uncomfortable relationship. And the castle has some surprises of its own: a sinister baroness, a tragic accident in a fathomless pool, a treacherous labyrinth, and through all of this, a story within a story . . .

An unnerving, haunting and unforgiving tale of modern life and modern man, the novel before A Visit from the Goon Squad is filled with Egan's breathtaking style and remarkable voice.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (6 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349120447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349120447
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Egan has conjured a surreal and creepy contemporary horror story which eerily veers between reality and fantasy.'
-- Sunday Telegraph

`A novel boobytrapped with metafictional tricks and trap doors, it makes traditional gothic tales look positively homely in comparison' -- Independent

`A smart tale that is horror, fantasy and thriller, yet never loses its hold on the reader. A gripping yarn' -- RTE Guide

`This is one of those rare books that reminds you of exactly why you love reading. Full of wry reflections on communication, loneliness and the power of the imagination, it's so entertaining you'll forget to be impressed.' -- Daily Mail

Book Description

A spellbinding work of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Jennifer Egan.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A modern gothic with serious undercurrents 10 May 2011
By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER
'The Keep', Jennifer Egan's third book, is a cleverly written novel that conceals its true nature almost to the end. At the outset, it appears to be a modernised gothic thriller: Stephen King rewritten by an author of a more literary bent. As it develops, it becomes apparent that this first story is itself being told by an at first unnamed narrator, whose personal story then frames and comments on it. But Egan is far from finished. A third story emerges, within which the second story takes its place as an episode. The reader constantly has to readjust: are any of these stories fictional, or are they all to some extent real?

Egan is a sophisticated writer who is clearly familiar with the likes of Mrs. Radcliffe, but also comfortable with postmodernist and metafictional games. She presents her take on both with a light touch. As in older gothic stories, there is play with levels of reality, suspicion and threat. Ultimately, the author handles serious themes - drug addiction, prison life, guilt for past misdeeds, fear of growing up and growing old - with confidence and conviction.

Egan has since won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (for 'A Visit From the Goon Squad') and her intelligence and subtlety certainly deserve to be taken seriously. I enjoyed 'The Keep' rather more than its prize-winning successor - possibly because I like the gothic mode, possibly because I had lower expectations. I suspect that readers will differ in their reactions depending on whether they expect straightforward thrills, or are prepared to be led deeper by Egan through stranger and less purely entertaining tunnels. On the other hand, readers familiar with the more self-conscious metafictions of Italo Calvino, Franz Kakfa and others may find 'The Keep' a little too postmodern-lite, and a little too American in its solutions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 2 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and intelligent 21 April 2008
Far from the usual one dimensional horror story, this is a story of colliding and intertwined personal histories with a delicious twist at the end. Requires a certain degree of engagement by the reader, and anybody who has failed to get beyond Dan Brown level is probably going to be disappointed - but this is a surprisingly moving and thought provoking tale.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ALTO RHAPSODY 23 Jan 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
'Alto' is a special term invented by one character in this novel and appropriated near the end by another; and what it is used to signify is various kinds of enhanced perception. Drugs? you may ask. Not entirely, probably not even mainly, I'd say, even in the context of the final pages where drugs become most significant in the narration.

Really it's impossible to be quite sure, for the very good reason that that is the last thing the author would have wanted us to be. I did not even try to count the number of levels of narrative-within-narrative that there are in this story, still less try to label any particular stratum with the docket of 'reality'. This is a very clever book, and clever in a very contemporary way. In reading it you need on the one hand to relax and not press clues too hard; and on the other hand you need to stay alert or you will lose your place altogether. I have seen quite a few such clever pieces on the BBC, where the added technology of pictures both helps keep the audience involved and at the same time helps keep it mystified. As I say, it's damn' ingenious, and I'm quite sure it would have been beyond me. However I more than half suspect that it is all too clever by half.

I admire this book much more than I like it. It shows truly formidable literary skill in the way the author juggles scenarios as if they were road-directions on a rotating base, pointing now one way and then another depending on the wind blowing at any moment. Still, when I had done my quota of admiring I began to realise that I did not much care what happened so long as I could keep the storyline clear in my head. Doing that is not actually as difficult as I may have made it sound - just let go of the sides, go into free fall with the author, and it is a surprisingly easy read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, clever, absorbing, gripping 24 Jan 2009
By ~The Bookworm~ VINE VOICE
I almost didn't persevere with this book. I bought it for my husband (because of the gorgeous cover) and he gave up on it. I started reading it and couldn't get a handle on it until about a quarter of the way through... and then, bang. I was extremely glad I kept going. The rest of the book I read in one sitting. Not ghostly, although it is gothic. Lots of symbols and reflections that thread through the different narratives. A story of many layers and meanings, with rich descriptions and characters. It got better, and better and better, and finally I was so sad to see it end that I turned right back to the beginning to re-read it. I think maybe a second reading expands what you see in the story. I can see myself keeping this book and re-reading again in the future - and I'll be looking for the author's other work. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.Thank you, Jennifer Egan, for writing this great book.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Strange! 9 Jun 2008
By Martin Belcher VINE VOICE
I found this story quite odd, it seems to jump from the main narrative with Danny the New Yorker visiting his cousin Howard in the castle somewhere in Eastern Europe and then quite absurdly jumps to the story of Ray back in the States in a prison.

Although I found some of the story quite thrilling and entertaining, especially involving Danny and the Baroness; I found the story rambles and jumps to such to an extent that I kept sratching my head with disbelief and re-reading several pages thinking I might have missed something important.

I was expecting something different and the ending left me feeling let down and thinking this novel could have been so much more.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning
I'm still not quite sure how someone can weave a story so intertwined with such grace, skill and flow and not drop a plate along the way. Read more
Published on 5 July 2012 by Neppo
5.0 out of 5 stars Twists and double twists
When I first picked up this book with its promise of the "creepy elements of gothic-castle novels" I expected a haunted castle, a brooding hero, a beautiful princess, maybe a... Read more
Published on 18 May 2011 by Debs
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and vivid
Plot driven by old wounds and grievances - a Gothic horror story a bit like 'The Magus' - a shimmering, scarey world where all the characters are imprisoned in one way or another. Read more
Published on 5 Aug 2010 by Mrs. Jennifer J. Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligently written and touching story
Have the people who criticise this book actually read and understood it? I doubt it. To me, it was a compact and highly satisfying read. Read more
Published on 19 Jan 2009 by Daniel C. Thompson
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but...
This was an odd read for me because I'd read a really glowing, 5-star review so expectations were high.

Unfortunately, the book didn't live up to those expectations. Read more
Published on 18 July 2008 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Keep It!
This is a rather strange novel. It switches between the story of Howard and Danny and the redevelopment of the `Keep' somewhere in Eastern Europe with many stories to tell from its... Read more
Published on 20 April 2008 by Jo D'Arcy
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother
It's not often I give up on a book but I'm afraid this book beat me. I just couldn't get into it at all. Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2008 by Glasgirl
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