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The Steep Approach To Garbadale [Kindle Edition]

Iain Banks
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

Dark family secrets and a long-lost love affair lie at the heart of Iain Banks's fabulous new novel.

The Wopuld family built its fortune on a board game called Empire! - now a hugely successful computer game. So successful, the American Spraint Corp wants to buy the firm out. Young renegade Alban, who has been evading the family clutches for years, is run to ground and persuded to attend the forthcoming family gathering - part birthday party, part Extraordinary General Meeting - convened by Win, Wopuld matriarch and most powerful member of the board, at Garbadale, the family's highland castle.

Being drawn back into the bosom of the clan brings a disconcerting confrontation with Alban's past. What drove his mother to take her own life? And is he ready to see Sophie, his beautiful cousin and teenage love? Grandmother Win's revelations wll radically alter Alban's perspective for ever.

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Product Description


** 'Compellingly, beautifully crafted . . . A fascinating read (NEW BOOKS MAGAZINE)

** 'Banks begins his most consistent book since THE CROW ROAD with slaight-of-hand tricks displaying the master in rude form ... These shifts in voice are so perfect, so clean and witty that when Alban comes to the fore, we feel he's one of is ... the maturit (WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY)

** 'A novel that could easily replace THE CROW ROAD as his career highlight (MAXIM)

** 'Banks still has the ability to make the reader smile with pleasure (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY)

Book Description

Dark family secrets and a passionate love affair, full of his trademark warmth, humanity and ingenuity, this is Iain Banks' best novel since THE CROW ROAD.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 992 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; Reprint edition (4 Sept. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002TZ3D8U
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #93,184 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. He gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels. Iain Banks died in June 2013.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite The Crow Road, but.... 24 Mar. 2007
I must say I was a little shocked by some of the negative reviews of this novel because I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. I'm a long-time Banks reader and, though I don't much like his SF, his literary fiction always gives me something to think about.

True, it's not as good as some of his earlier novels, but I found myself liking the protagonist, Alban, very much. He's a kind of black sheep who has all but abandoned the family business, but finds himself enmeshed in the debate about the proposed American buy-out as an advocate for not selling. For Alban, who owns so few shares that his voting power is virtually irrelevant, it's a matter of principle. Alban is very much a lefty and resents the commercial imperialism of the Americans. That resentment comes to the fore near the end of the book, when he lets fly at one of the (admittedly stereotypical) American executives about everything he hates about American politics and foreign policy. It's not subtle, but it adds a political dimension to the way you interpret the book. Indeed, you could read it as a leftist political statement against US imperialism - at least partly.

Interlaced with the business stuff is the family stuff, notably Alban's obsession with his cousin Sophie. Yes, a little soapy, but I found it quite fascinating. The family story is told through narrative that jumps backwards and forwards in time. Time-jumping can be annoying if not done well, and I think Banks does it well enough here. I didn't find it obtrusive or confusing. For me, it progressively built layers of complexity that illuminated the family dynamics.

Certainly the novel has its flaws, but nonetheless, I think it's Banks' best effort since Complicity.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is the subtext a bit too heavy-handed? Discuss... 22 July 2007
I've read more than half of Iain Banks's regular novels (as opposed to Iain M Banks's science fiction work) and although I enjoyed this book, I would have to say that the story would be a little bit leaden if it weren't for the author's well-crafted plotting. Which is to say that it's an unexciting story told with the skill of a page-turner.

The central character is a young man called Alban who is struggling vainly to come to terms with the failure of his adolescent first love about 20 years after the event. He has a girlfriend and some colourful friends but he remains obsessive about Sophie. She is his first cousin and so their secret summer of love in the Eighties was doomed when their family found out and she was condemned to exile in a Spanish boarding school.

This love story is told in flashback at a time when Alban's wealthy family, which owes its riches to a board game devised by Alban's grandfather, is coming together from around the world to consider a buy-out of the family firm by a large American company. And so of course Alban and Sophie are set to meet for the first time in several years.

There are a number of questions that drive the plot forwards. What happened between Alban and Sophie in the intervening years? Will they reunite or will Alban stay with the far more interesting Verushka, nicknamed VG? Is the family protecting the truth behind Alban's mother's sudden suicide when he was a small boy? And will Alban convince his family to keep its identity and reject the lure of millions of dollars from the Spraint Corporation?

There's an undisguised subtext here. This is a book about a board game called Empire! which is a game of global domination.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of his best - but still very worthwhile 2 Sept. 2008
A British family company, the Wopulds, built its fortune on a board - then later a computer - game called Empire. Now they are considering selling it off to the Americans. This can be seen as Banks building a sort of elaborate metaphor for Britain as the faded former imperial power and the world's policeman, with that role now being taken over by the Americans.

The main character of the novel - Alban Wopuld - seems a typical Banks character, a person getting older but seemingly incapable of growing up, begins in a form of self-imposed exile from the family business, but is bought back into the bosom of his family to help decide whether they will indeed sell out to the Americans.

Alban's obsession with a brief fling with his cousin during his teenage years is another sign of his inability to let go of his idealistically naïve teenage years when it all seemed so simple to him - us against them. Alban's cousin - surely a link to the British/American special relationship where both countries regard each other and even call each other `cousins' - Sophie, eventually moves to and becomes American. Plastic surgery is hinted at as her way of becoming even more American. The more American she becomes, the wider the gap between Alban and Sophie becomes. He loved her and believed that she loved him - a sort of special relationship, indeed.

The British Empire theme is further explored by having Alban wandering the globe and fetching up in various outposts of the former Empire, especially Hong Kong.

Alban is a self-proclaimed lefty. However, one who took business studies and then the corporate shilling - an analogy of `New Labour', perhaps - working for the family firm, before resigning in a fit of moral indignation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great product,as described. good seller
Published 6 months ago by chewmeroot
5.0 out of 5 stars Iain Banks back on familiar ground. Board games, familial strife,...
I have read all of Iain Banks books, and this book the Steep Approach to Garbadale returns to some of his favourite themes, board games, excessive wealth, and scotland. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Sally Ann Melia
5.0 out of 5 stars problem here!
The book was sent promptly and a good copy ... untiliit got here and our postman put it in the parcel box
by our gate that had filled with water! Read more
Published 19 months ago by Lily Trelispen
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story teller
Some of his prose a is a bit rambling so I end up speed reading to get to the next intriguing part.
Published 19 months ago by clive davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars 'for lost loves'
I think there must be something about Iain Banks, for better or worse, which just clicks with me as a reader. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Rosemarie
4.0 out of 5 stars Not "The Crow Road", but not bad either ...
I'm a relative newcomer to the non-scifi works of Iain Banks (RIP) having read, and enjoyed, the Culture novels immensely starting with 'Consider Phlebas' way back when. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story
This is a tale of growing up; boyhood to manhood, in a setting of a very successful family business about to be bought out by a US company. Read more
Published on 15 Sept. 2013 by Roberto
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Banks best
A good story, well told but without the punch of some of his other books. Still a good read. Try it
Published on 14 Sept. 2013 by Mrs. Susan A. Ordish
3.0 out of 5 stars Love of Mammon ?
Alban's wealthy family has a stately home called Garbadale, part of the empire-building success story which Alban nevertheless does not feel proud of in itself and which he... Read more
Published on 31 July 2013 by Carolingian
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks
Another wonderful book dealing so brilliantly with the minutiae of family and interpersonal relationships. Thoroughly absorbing characters and a breathtakingly described setting.
Published on 14 April 2013 by girlonfire
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