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Turbulence [Hardcover]

Giles Foden
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 13.96 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

4 Jun 2009

The D-day landings - the fate of 2.5 million men, 3000 landing craft and the entire future of Europe depends on the right weather conditions on the English Channel on a single day. A team of Allied scientists is charged with agreeing on an accurate forecast five days in advance. But is it even possible to predict the weather so far ahead? And what is the relationship between predictability and turbulence, one of the last great mysteries of modern physics?

Wallace Ryman has devised a system that comprehends all of this - but he is a reclusive pacifist who stubbornly refuses to divulge his secrets. Henry Meadows, a young maths prodigy from the Met Office, is sent to Scotland to discover Ryman's system and apply it to the Normandy landings. But turbulence proves more elusive than anyone could have imagined and events, like the weather, begin to spiral out of control.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st Edition edition (4 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571205224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571205226
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 551,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Giles Foden was born in 1967 and spent his youth in Africa. Between 1990 and 2006 he worked as a journalist on the Times Literary Supplement and the Guardian. In 1998 he published The Last King of Scotland, which won the Whitbread First Novel Award and was later made into a feature film. The author of three other novels and also a work of narrative non-fiction, in 2007 he was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He lives in Norfolk.

Product Description

Book Description

From Giles Foden, prize-winning author of The Last King of Scotland, a gripping blend of fact and fiction in a novel about the D-Day landings.

About the Author

Giles Foden was born in 1967 and spent his youth in Africa. Between 1990 and 2006 he worked as a journalist on the Times Literary Supplement and the Guardian. In 1998 he published The Last King of Scotland, which won the Whitbread First Novel Award and was later made into a feature film. The author of two other novels and also a work of narrative non-fiction, in 2007 he was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He lives in Norfolk.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The search for coherency 26 May 2009
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm not going to repeat the plot since that is adequately covered by other reviewers and the Amazon blurb, and, anyway, this isn't a plot heavy novel. Intelligent and thoughtful, at heart this is a meditation on the impossible search for coherency and an overwhelming meaning and stability in life.

The narrator, Henry Meadows, is a young Cambridge academic caught up in the war effort and the attempt to predict the weather to facilitate the D-day landings. He believes in a formula which can neutralise the unexpected, the arbitrary messiness of real life, but learns that it is only the unpredictable which is predictable.

I'd never read any Foden before, and was impressed with his ability to convey character and the nuances of personality through his narrator's voice. Meadows is awkward, intellectually intelligent and yet somewhat socially inept, and seems to fit the period perfectly.

The research is also extremely impressive. Foden walks the tight-rope of conveying the intricacies and impossibilities of high-level maths/physics, without alienating the reader. In fact the way we (most of us, I would guess) cannot engage with the maths is itself important, conveying the impenetrability of the problem and, by association, telling us something about Meadows himself.

But if the atmosphere, register and tone of the book is flawless, sadly the novel as a whole isn't. While this is quietly compelling it lacks that certain something which turns a good novel into a great one. Perhaps it's that the characters aren't quite gripping enough, or that the scenario is ever so slightly artificial, an attempt to write up the importance of Meadows' work? I'm not sure, but while I enjoyed this book greatly, I could easily have stopped reading at any point without having a compelling need to finish it.

So overall a fine work with some excellent writing. But it didn't make me desperate to read the Foden back catalogue.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Variable to Good 27 July 2009
By Nick Flynn TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Having neither read Giles Foden before, or seen the last king of scotland, I arrived at turbulence without preconceptions. I was interested in the subject and had never really thought about the detail that went into the planning of the D-Day invasion.

So it has all the right ingredients for a brit to enjoy, war, intrigue, conflict, weather and a sort of bumbling hero type.

I will leave other reviewers to go into the detail of the story ... what I found was an enjoyable (if sometimes heavy going) factual novel that manages to fill in some of what it was like to live during the war. My wife is doing her family tree and was interested in some of the snipets I read out.

I quite like the bumbing 'anti-hero' approach that obviously comes good in the end (with a little help).

I read the book on a two week holiday on the beach ... I thought it was perfect for that and has been returned to my bookshelf covered in suntan and sand stains. If you are expecting deep and insightful, maybe this isn't the book for you. If you want an entertaining read whilst gently toasting on a beach ... I thought it was great.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Whatever the weather??? 12 July 2009
By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Do you remember the old poem ?

Whether the weather be mild or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

This definitely wasn't the case in the planning for the D-Day landings, for the lives of thousand upon thousands depended on the meteorologists getting their forecasting right. Turbulence is a fictional story based upon their experiences. Some of those within, such as James Stagg who led the team of British and American weather forecasters, are real, but others such as Henry Meadows, the novel's main character, are not.

Meadows is a young mathematician working for the meteorological office. The MO is having problems in forecasting the weather sufficiently in advance to make planning for the Normandy landings. Meadows is assigned to a station in Scotland with a secret mission to talk to a former weather forecaster Ryman, who as a Quaker is now devoting his skills to peace studies. Ryman had developed a new system of forecasting to take account of turbulence patterns, but had not told anyone - Meadows is to winkle it out of him. But a tragic accident kills Ryman before he makes enough progress in befriending him.

Meadows is reassigned to be Stagg's assistant. The stress the meteorologists were under to get the weather forecast right for D-Day was immense - the right combination of moon, tides, and skies was proving impossible to predict. When some anomalies in readings are consistently reported from one of the weather ships in the atlantic Meadows is convinced that Ryman had something and persuades Stagg to let him carry on Ryman's work... The rest, as they say, is history.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promises much but fails to engage 13 Jun 2009
By nicola1459 VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Having heard Giles Foden give a couple of publicity interviews on Radio 4 and watched recent coverage of the D-Day commemorations, I was really looking forward to reading this book. It turned out to be a sore disappointment.

The premise seemed to promise so much - Henry Meadows is a young meteorologist entrusted with developing a method of weatcher forecasting that will allow military commanders to choose the optimal timing for the D-Day landings. Under cover of establishing an observation station, he is sent to Scotland to try and extract information from 'The Prophet' Wallace Ryman, the reclusive author of a mathematical formula for calculating turblence, who has now dedicated himself to peace studies.

I was expecting the excitement of a wartime adventure with the intellectual stimulation of an explanation of the nascent science of forecasting. But I found neither excitement nor stimulation. Little happens for large chunks of the narrative. The climax of the plot hinges round a grotesque and rather preposterous accident. While there were some beautifully written passages about turbulence, I learnt less than expected about weather forecasting and the explanations of the "revelations" made possible by the Ryman number failed to inspire me, perhaps because Foden was forced to over-simplify complex mathematical ideas to such an extent they often sounded banal.

The book fails to engage on the emotional level too, as it is peopled by a distinctly unsympathetic bunch of characters. Meadows' bungling quickly grows tedious. By the end I was finding it hard to distinguish one weather-forecasting boffin from another.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Extremely well written, but sadly less than gripping
The premise behind this book it good, and I feel it really could have been something special. What is seems to have ended up as however, is a book that meanders rather aimlessly... Read more
Published 6 months ago by G. J. Nichol
3.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent but strained
I began reading Turbulence hoping I would like it. And I did, kind of!

Although the story is well thought and nicely structured I found it too clever in places, if that... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Brian Hamilton
4.0 out of 5 stars More than a Stiff Breeze but not quite a storm
Foden's stock is high after the outstanding Last King of Scotland and Ladysmith and Turbulence doesn't disappoint. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Withnail67
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit dry for me, and inforation overload
The novel opens with a fantastical vision of icebergs towed from Antarctica to Arabia to water the desert. Read more
Published 22 months ago by doublegone
4.0 out of 5 stars "Every so-called `accident,' every piece of turbulence, is part of a...
Set in London and Scotland from January through June, 1944, this unusual and fascinating novel may change the way you think of the weather and how long-range forecasts are made. Read more
Published on 21 Aug 2010 by Mary Whipple
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but...
First off - I enjoyed this book. Foden seems to write about characters that are sympathetic but flawed and this book is no exception. Read more
Published on 23 July 2010 by Jeremy
2.0 out of 5 stars Even more boring than Atonement
Hugely disappointed.

I find it hard to believe that anyone can write a more boring novel set in WW2. Read more
Published on 20 July 2010 by Pavlov's Dog
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Had great expectations based on reviews and the author's previous work - I was really looking forward to this! Read more
Published on 15 July 2010 by simonpeggfan
4.0 out of 5 stars D DAY LANDINGS
Obviously weather was an important aspect in the D Day landings,but I never considered how important until I read Turbulence. This was a many stranded novel. Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2010 by bibliophile
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely not heavy weather
Having just read John Simpson's latest book (the BBC news man) it was thrilling to get back into some fiction and I was totally captivated by the first thirty pages. Read more
Published on 3 May 2010 by Gary B
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