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Turbulence Hardcover – 4 Jun 2009


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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: 16 x 2.9 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 472,719 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

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 26 May 2009
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 By Nick Flynn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 July 2009
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 By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE on 12 July 2009
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jon D VINE VOICE on 8 July 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'll admit when I realised that Foden was currently fulfilling the role of Professor of Cerative Writing at the University of East Anglia (a department with a considerable reputation, I realise) my heart rather sank.

I didn't know whether to expect a sort of formula book ("Instant Bestseller - Just Add Water!" kind of thing) or something very obviously terribly clever but completely impenetrable (I can think of a few...) to a mere mortal like myself.

As it happens I was very agreeably surprised. The book is indeed clever - the imagery, narrative devices, ambiguities and little twists are all there, but it is an eminently readable tome.

The plot concerns the build-up to D-Day 1944 as experienced by a young meteorologist charged with extracting the method necessary to provide an accurate forecast five days in advance as required for the landings from the one man who is believed capable of doing so. Unhappily for our protagonist this man is a pacifist, disinclined to be helpful to the war effort.

The complex emotions - turbulence - experienced under severe stress by the narrator and by those with whom he comes into contact are elegantly examined, but this book is also a thumping good yarn, so from my point of view an ideal novel.

Foden competently blends his fictional account into the actual historical one, something that plenty of authors have tried and ended up looking slightly silly. He very clearly did his homework, which means that the book is also an interesting document with regards to the events leading up to the invasion of Europe. Certainly I learned a thing or two.

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable book which has left me determined to rectify the omission of never having read his earlier output.
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