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Three Brothers Hardcover – 3 Oct 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (3 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701186933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701186937
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.4 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 203,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Ackroyd is the author of biographies of Dickens, Blake and Thomas More and of the acclaimed non-fiction bestsellers London: The Biography and Thames: Sacred River. Peter Ackroyd is an award-winning novelist, as well as a broadcaster, biographer, poet and historian. He has won the Whitbread Biography Award, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the South Bank Prize for Literature. He holds a CBE for services to literature.

Product Description


"A camp clever tour de force… an alternative autobiography, a ghost story and a murder mystery all in one slim volume. Brilliant… the quintessence of Ackroyd" (Sunday Telegraph)

"A book full of rich and sudden moments of delight" (The Scotsman)

"Harking back to Dickens... London is a major character in the novel. In Ackroyd's accomplished hands the city becomes a mystical place, where visions abound. Highly recommended." (Daily Mail)

"* Cultural pick of the week *" (Mail on Sunday)

"Ackroyd is that timeless figure, a man of letters, dipped in ink, apparently versatile in a breathtaking variety of genres" (Observer)

Book Description

Rapier-sharp, witty, intriguing and mysterious: a new novel from Peter Ackroyd, set in 1960s London

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James Brydon on 20 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Peter Ackroyd must be one of the most prolific writers around at the moment. he has written a host of literary biographies, several books about London, a score of novels and he is currently writing a multi-volume series on the History of England. Where does he find the time? If this novel is anything to go by, he isn't sacrificing quality in favour of quantity.

Though I enjoyed "Hawksmoor" and "Chatterton" more than twenty years ago, I have struggled with many of his previous novels. However, having read some favourable reviews in the literary press I decided to have a punt on this one, and was certainly rewarded.

No prizes for guessing that it tells the story of three brothers, though interesting all three are born at the same time on the same date in three successive years, though this does not serve to render them particularly close. While they are still very young their mother just disappears, leaving them to be brought up by their laconic father, Philip who, as a novelist manque, drifts through life working for years as a night watchman before becoming a long distance lorry driver.

The three boys follow different paths at school. Harry, the eldest, is a popular and capable boy, who leaves to take up a post as messenger for the local newspaper, and being a n opportunist, gradually works his way up to become a reporter. Daniel, the middle of the three, is an academic prodigy who works hard and secures a scholarship to Cambridge where he stays on to complete postgraduate courses before becoming a Fellow of his college. Sam, the youngest, just drifts through life, largely disengaged from the world around him.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By TripFiction on 26 Jan 2014
Format: Hardcover
Transport yourself back to London of the 1960s in the capable hands of author Peter Ackroyd. This is the story of three brothers, Harry, Daniel and Sam who are abandoned by their Mother in their early years and are dragged up by their Father, who essentially absents himself from home, both physically and emotionally, by becoming a lorry driver.

As they mature into adult young men, each has his story to tell, and each dovetails with the lives of other Londoners - and it is these patterns of association linking the people of the city that Ackroyd revisits over and over again. A hugely populated city, yet a very small stage, where lives diverge, cross and come together alarmingly frequently. And all the while the non tangible, ethereal ghosts of historical footsteps patter around the prose. The ghosts of past lives serve to threaten or to reassure as life continues. People have to make the best of their lives, from the larger than life characters to those who keep the wheels of the city turning. His prose is rich in imagery and pathos.

This is a story set in the real life London of Harold Wilson, Gin and Its, Tizer, Christine Keeler, The Kray Twins and Babycham and the notorious landlord Peter Rachman, who exploited and terrorised his tenants. And there is a character in the book who can only be based on this notoriously sadistic and cruel real-life person. Generally, a thinly drawn veil separates the fictional characters from the real-life characters who populated London in the Swinging 60s. Needless to say it wasn't all about fashionable Carnaby Street, it was also grim reality in the slums.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Mar 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Yes, most of the characters in British author Peter Ackroyd's new novel, "Three Brothers" are unlikable. BUT, they're not "uninteresting". And that interestingness, along with the inclusion of city of London as almost a character of its own, makes "Three Brothers" worth reading.

Ackroyd begins his story of three brothers, all born on May 6th, at noon, in succeeding years in the late 1940's WW2 was over, but London was adjusting to the peace, as it adjusted to the war in the earlier years. The brothers' mother, Sally (in my estimation the weakest of the main characters) disappeared one day from their lives and they were raised by their father, a long-distance lorry driver. The brothers went their separate ways early on, yet they find themselves reunited - along with their mother - in the 1960's, 70's, and 80's - in plot devises that often smack of magical realism. Harry, the oldest, begins a climb up the journalism ladder and Daniel, the middle son, gets a scholarship to Clare College at Cambridge and becomes a writer and a teacher. Sam, the youngest, goes his own way, and that way includes his doing a bit of everything to keep alive.

Conventional wisdom - oh, that "wisdom" we all hope exists - would say that the three brothers raised in fairly dismal council housing surroundings, would be emotionally close and try to help each other in life. Not here, not these three brothers. They all seem to disdain and actively dislike each other. Daniel is gay and quite a bit of the story relates in some way to Daniel's friends and partners. Not that he was able to become close to anyone, except perhaps Sparkler, a rent boy and petty thief. Sparkler also has connections to the other brothers, but they are not disclosed til the end.
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