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This is Paradise [Paperback]

Will Eaves
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

17 Jan 2013

The Alldens live in a ramshackle house in suburban Bath. Don and Emily have four children: confident Liz, satirical Clive, shy Lotte, and Benjamin, the late arrival. Together they take the usual knocks, go to work, go abroad, go to university, go to pieces. Don and Emily stick it out, their strong marriage tested by experience and frustrated by love for Clive, the ardent boxing fan at odds with himself, their special child.

But then ordinary is special, too, as the Alldens will discover thirty years later when Emily falls ill and her children come home to say goodbye. Their unforgettable story is an intimate record of survival that is clear-eyed, funny and deeply moving.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (17 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330418777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330418775
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


‘Beautiful and extraordinary’ The Times

‘Intricately rendered snapshots of family life through the years . . . Eaves has a real gift for nuanced observation’ Observer

‘This is a novel that should resonate with every contemporary family’ Sunday Times

‘Funny, kind and unsparingly honest’ Patrick Gale

About the Author

Will Eaves was born in Bath in 1967. He is the author of two other novels, The Oversight (2001, shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award) and Nothing To Be Afraid Of (2005, shortlisted for the Society of Authors' Encore Award), and a collection of poems, Sound Houses (2011). For many years he was the arts editor of the Times Literary Supplement. He now teaches at the University of Warwick.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh Air 21 Aug 2012
I chose this book on a recommendation of someone at work.

It was not a straight-forward read but it was refreshing to be challenged by writing and i found the story developed gradually, much like the illness of the mother. Bit by bit the family are revealed as individuals. While some reviews complain about them, i liked them. They are like any other family, full of love, regret, anger and moments of infuriating behaviour.

The book is a good read, a family's story through moments both good and bad just as it is in the real world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heaven or Hell? 26 July 2012
By M. J. Saxton VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really couldn't see anything paradisical about this book at all. The family seems to be completely dysfunctional and not "ordinary" at all as according to the cover blurb.
Emily and Don seem to spend a lot of their marriage avoiding issues and generally irritating eachother, but stay married because - well, why?
Ostensibly this is the tale of an ordinary family with four children who are all different and have to gradually make their way in the world. There is a hiatus and then they come together again when Emily is suffering her final illness.
There are a couple of joyous events, but for the most part the children seem to be full of anxiety and end up with a lot of hang-ups they don't talk about just like their parents.
Clive seemed to me to be autistic after reading the first few chapters, but then I couldn't understand why he'd never been assessed or why his parents did nothing (nor ever discussed) his alarming behaviour.
Benjamin is a sensitive child who, it is later revealed, is gay. He has one short relationship in his life and then seems to be doomed to spend the rest of it alone. Worrying.
The girls are a little less well described, but they both end up somewhat distracted and seemingly unable to cope with their parents and siblings. It says that Liz really loved her mother, but there's very little sign of it apart from casual presents; usually they snipe at eachother.
It doesn't help that the style is very post-modern, almost deconstructed, though it is as if the author didn't have the courage to go the whole hog. Some of it, including the ending, is rather confusing. I sort of enjoyed the story yet wished they didn't all get on eachother's nerves so much and weren't so, well, dysfunctional
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Paradise it Ain't! 12 Nov 2012
By Kate Hopkins TOP 500 REVIEWER
I'm still wondering whether the title of Will Eaves's third novel (taken from the remark of one of the characters during a rare holiday to France early in the novel) is a black-comic joke. For most of the novel, the much-quoted line from Sartre's Huit Clos, 'Hell is Other People', would be more appropriate!

Eaves's post-modern family saga explores the life of the Allden family from the 1960s to the present day. Don and Emily Allden are a reasonably unhappily-married middle-class couple, living in suburban Bath (ie not the gorgeous Georgian centre). Don is a picture-framer and nearly full-time philanderer, Emily is one of the last of the generation of women who didn't work; instead, she cares for their four children and demonstrates a great talent for arts and crafts, which she makes disappointingly little of. Their four children are all as different as can be. The eldest, Clive, is autistic and difficult, though oddly brilliant in certain areas, and his parents seem singularly useless at getting him help - not surprisingly Something Terrible happens after he goes to university (what we do not know) and his career begins a downhill slide. The next in line, Liz, is bright, lively and practical - she inherits her mother's artistic talent, has a cheerful relationship with the opposite sex, and is probably the sanest member of the family. The third child, Lotte (Charlotte - I'm not sure why Eaves spells the abbreviation of her name the German way, other than Don's love of Germany) is ultra-good, well-behaved and rather colourless. She eventually marries for money and ascends to upper middle-class bliss, with ultra-talented children with names such as Jasmin, and no need to work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No Logical Sequence of Events 19 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a novel about a family -the Alldens - who live in a less-posh part of Bath. Don and Emily are the parents, Liz, Lotte,Benjamin and "Special" Clive are their children. Everyone goes to enormous lengths to avoid upsetting Clive, whose rages are legendary amongst the family. He is widely held to be gifted, but the reader gets the impression quite early on that he may, in fact, be subject to some form of mental illness.

The story jumps between time at the start, harking back to a difficult time for the family when Emily's life was in jeopardy whilst pregnant with her fourth child, Benjamin, but then moves forward in time to a time when Benjamin is a child rather than a baby. It never really seems to keep to a logical sequence, honing on significant events like family holidays, application to University, engagements and so on.

The final action is devoted to the time when Emily at an unspecified age, is suffering from Dementia and Don is increasingly finding it difficult to cope. It details their search for a suitable nursing home, acceptable to all the family. It then moves to Emily's lingering death and the gathering of the children at her bedside and ends a year on as they scatter her ashes.

I have to confess that this was not really the ideal novel for me. I quite enjoyed the all too familiar interactions of family life, but I felt the lack of sequence and I wanted to know more of the grown up children, their lives, careers and families. I also found the end section dragged. It is well written, however, and lovers of this type of genre may well find it irresistible but unfortunately it was not for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Paradise
The sum of individuals flawed do not make a family dysfunctional. A look in a mirror and we generally see only what we want to see. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Sandford
3.0 out of 5 stars Marmite - either love it or hate it
I am unsure about this book - although I read it all, I was left feeling very uncertain about a number of the characters. Read more
Published 7 months ago by S. A. Broadhurst
1.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment!
I confess I gave up on this book by page 35. It began well enough, the main character (or so I thought) Emily was unwell, I think, and was awaiting a visit from her doctor. Read more
Published 7 months ago by xenofan
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Paradise
This is Will Eaves's best book yet. Insightful, moving and funny, it charts the life of an average - and yet exceptional - family in a way that will capture your heart.
Published 7 months ago by Steve M
4.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary writing about an ordinary family
Will Eaves's third novel is an everyday story about a family from Bath, the Alldens, Don and Emily and their four children. Read more
Published 8 months ago by David Gee
3.0 out of 5 stars Confused
It might be because it's a style I'm not used to, or an author I haven't read before, but I was so confused. Read more
Published 8 months ago by pearlsgirl
4.0 out of 5 stars Read it !
Having come across a review of this book, i purchased it and enjoyed it, but felt a bit let down. It was good but i didn't share the same enthusiasm as previous reviewers.
Published 11 months ago by Mr. A. Taylor
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I expected.
This book was recommended by an author I admire and so I was expecting it to be better than it actually was. Read more
Published 11 months ago by P. Blundell
3.0 out of 5 stars Good not great.
I expected something with a wider perspective than the book managed. While a good read and extremely well written I suppose I found the themes somewhat limited. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Andrew Maughan
2.0 out of 5 stars So this is Paradise?
The Alldens, described as an "ordinary family" live in a large, three storey house in a not-too-smart part of Bath. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jood
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