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This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn [Hardcover]

Aidan Chambers
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct 2006
Subtitled 'The Pillow Book of Cordella Kenn' this is the story of Cordella from the time she is 15 until she is 20. She is pregnant and plans to give this account to her daughter on her 16th birthday so that they can share their youth together. She chooses the old and famous Japanese book' 'The Pillow Book' by Sei Shonagon' as a model in order to include all kinds of things she has already written as well as the episodes and thoughts she has now as she compiles her book. She tells of her mother (who died when Cordella was 5) of her father and her aunt Dorls (who marry when she is 16), of her love for William Blacklin, the boy with whom she chooses to have her first sex - and with whom she falls deeply in love. She writes about Julie Martin her teacher who helps her spiritually, describes her love affair with an older married man and her terrifying sexual experience with an unbalanced young man who is obsessed with her. The book includes thoughts on being a women, on poetry, music, reading and writing, on being pregnant and finally of her marriage to William. This Is All is an anthology, written in six 'books' of Cordella's adolescent life, by turns funny, poignant, sad, exciting, fascinating ironic and truthful about topics that parents often do not tell their children. It is a richly entertaining and challenging read.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 808 pages
  • Publisher: ABRAMS (Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810970600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810970601
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,414,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A warm, poignant and sometimes funny novel . . . beautifully written and cleverly crafted . . . A very readable book whose ease belies its length and complexity" (Kate Agnew Guardian)

"Remarkable" (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

"Serious and self-absorbed, Cordelia is the antidote to the ditzy heroines of a thousand pink covers but it is an addictive read, even at 800 pages. Anyone who questions the validity of specialist "teen" fiction should read it" (Dinah Hall Sunday Telegraph)

"Captures in story form the confusion, the ordinariness, the excitement and the shape of everyday lives . . . Chambers has delivered another provocative, informed, stimulating and controversial book" (Inis)

"As always, Chambers writes with the fierce intelligence and honesty which distinguishes his work. If more novels of adolescence had this quality and seriousness, we wouldn't risk losing those readers who feel patronised by teenage fiction" (Linda Newbery TES Teacher) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Subtitled The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn, this is a self portrait of a passionate girl who needs to write - in this case the story of her teenage years. It is the last novel in the loosely connected sequence of novels which began with Breaktime in 1978. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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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 This IS All - you need to read, really! 30 Oct 2005
By lovemurakami TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Although aimed at the young adult market, with This Is All, Aidan Chambers takes the reader on a journey which many 'adult' fiction authors wish they could make. Based on the idea of a Japanese Pillow book, we are introduced to Cordellia Kenn who has written about her life from the age of 15 to present, her loves, her dreams and her poetry so that her unborn child will on it's 16th birthday be able to read and learn about Cordellia. I read this over the course of two days (800+ pages) and was totally drawn into Cordellia's life. It is so beautifully crafted that you won't want to put it down. The ending is beyond words. Please read this book whether you are it's target teen audience or as I am of the next generation. One final word, I would think twice about giving it to anyone under 13/14 as it is adult in it's content.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative Chambers 31 Oct 2005
I've been a fan of Aidan Chambers since I was 15 - ten years on I awaited the publication of TIA with as much anticipation as when I was a teenager. The book is the last in the six part 'Dance Sequence' and I was fairly nervous about how it would compare to the other books. Well, it's absolutely fantastic. Cordelia is an authentic and engaging voice and I defy anyone not to fall in love with her.
This is a fairly weighty, challenging book. It's written as a collection of notes and diaries without any firm chronological order, which takes a bit of getting used to but also makes it feel much more personal. There are quite a few moments of shock and horror and you will cry at least once along the way. It's aimed at a slightly older age group than the earlier books - probably 15+.
Highly recommended for old Chambers fans and newbies!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rich and complex novel 18 July 2010
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I bought this because I loved Chambers' book: Postcards from No Man's Land and this is supposed to be the end of a series of books of which Postcards was one. I had also read The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, where the idea for this book came from, and was intrigued to see what he would do with it.

In a nutshell it is the story of Cordelia Kenn, in her own words, in which she tells about her life from the age of 15 to the age of 20, and her first love in particular. It sounds simple, it isn't. The book is rich, complex and full of detail. The story is interwoven with excerpts from Cordelia's own pillow book, a kind of diary in which she records impressions, ideas, philosophies and beliefs, and which give the narrative depth, colour and real emotion.

The book is massive, at over 800 pages, split into sections which correspond to key times in Cordelia's life. It is an enormous undertaking.

I thought it was a great book, but at times too complex (i.e. where the pillow book and the narrative events are split down page by page and in which you have to keep changing threads to make sense of the story). I also found Cordelia less than sympathetic at times, although all credit to Chambers as a writer for coming up with such a psychologically believeable and rounded character, not someone just good or bad, but someone who is sometimes compelling and fascinating and other times dammned annoying.

The book has some fantastic twists and turns, particularly towards the end, and I finished it feeling satisfied that it had told me everything I needed to know in a way that seemed real to me. An excellent book for children in their mid to late teens. I would not recommend it to younger children because the sexual content is quite explicit and there are some descriptions of violence in the later sections of the book which I would not be entirely comfortable with a child of say, less than 14 reading.
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3.0 out of 5 stars bad formatting. 4 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
The story itself is excellent. However do not buy the kindle version as the formatting is very difficult to read.
The story is separated into books and two of these books are arranged in an (a) and (b) page format with alternate pages being a and the remaining pages being b. All of the a pages are chronological and tell one part of the story while the b pages tell another. This format has not transferred well onto kindle and is very difficult to read. I recommend buying the print book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is All (The Dance Sequence) [Paperback] 18 July 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My daughter loves this book so much that she kept on taking it out from the local library... We came to the point where she just had to have her own copy. We found this one on Amazon. It was delivered quickly and in good condition. It was a very convenient purchase from a reliable source!
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5.0 out of 5 stars This Is All 19 Nov 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
Absolutely incredible book, not just in the original style of the writing or the incredible story told; but in the fact that everyone can learn something from reading it. So much more to this than most other novels, a real masterpiece by an author who empathies really brilliantly with a teenage girl. Read it.
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By Arbee
The sheer size of this book may be daunting but every word and every page is worth it.I settled down with this book with the intention of just passing time and ended up spending the better part of a weekend in Cordelia's - the narrator's- world.

It was also a joy to discover that the pillow-book was two books in one. Despite the pages not going serially from a certain point, it is so well-written I couldn't stop reading it. I read it as if it was written serially, but when I was done, I read the second book as a 'stand-alone' book. The effect was not lost either way- if anything the structure made it feel like I had Cordelia's express permission to rifle through her thoughts.

Feeling like I knew Cordelia personally meant that every feeling was felt keenly- the laughter, the tears and everything in between. I was sorry when it ended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A cruel twist
I don't hate this book because it is badly written. I hate it because it is so beautifully written, or at least the first art is... Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2012 by The Bee Charmer
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING BOOK
This was such a good book. Arrived really quickly and in such good condition! I love it!
Published on 8 May 2009 by Katrina Donaghy
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written novel in a unique format
I picked this book up on impulse at Downtown Disney back in 2006 - Virgin have these great stands with books just sitting there looking inviting and asking to be bought. Read more
Published on 27 Feb 2008 by Clare Swindlehurst
5.0 out of 5 stars The most beautiful book I've ever read.
If I just wrote a plot-line here, almost no one would buy this book. Beacuse, frankly, it's not the plot that's important. Cordelia Kenn is a 16 year old, living in England. Read more
Published on 30 Jan 2007 by Siavahda
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Good..
Don't be fooled by the many pages of this book. Its a suprisingly easy to get sucked in and carry on reading for hours. Read more
Published on 18 Oct 2006 by RockinRooster
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
An amazing book that totally captured me, even though it was so long and there was much confusion. In the middle of the book the pages suddenly do not match up which was very... Read more
Published on 31 May 2006 by ROxx
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING
This book is absolutely fantastic. I became a fan of this author when I read "Postcards form No Man's Land" when it was first published and I have to say that this book... Read more
Published on 31 Jan 2006
4.0 out of 5 stars Life told in epic ways
In this book, Chambers shows us that he knows all.
It doesn't have the fast-paced narrative structure that some of his other books can boast of, but its unflinching... Read more
Published on 6 Nov 2005 by Rosamund
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