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Unexploded Hardcover – 26 Jul 2013

51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton; First Edition edition (26 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241142636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241142639
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 346,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

REVIEWS

UNEXPLODED
'Unexploded is like a piece of finely wrought ironwork, uncommonly delicate but at the same time astonishingly strong and tensile; it's a novel of staggering elegance and beauty.' THE INDEPENDENT

'Full of simmering tension, resentment and unexpressed passion... A bold, cleverly-told story from a writer who knows exactly what she's doing. I'd be happy (and not surprised) to see it on the Man Booker shortlist.' THE OBSERVER

'Unexploded is an intelligent, perceptive novel by a writer of great descriptive power... Like her modernist forebears, Macleod knows that life and death, the terrible and the mundane always co-exist - her genius lies in illustrating these truths while simultaneously spinning a bona fide pageturner.' THE DAILY MAIL

'The plot is fast-paced and engaging, the characters are compelling, and the descriptions of wartime Brighton are pin-sharp... The novel's denouement is as heart-rending as it is unexpected.' THE FINANCIAL TIMES

'An exploration of the xenophobia and neurosis unleashed in times of national crisis . . .MacLeod remains one of the most astute... writing today.' THE GUARDIAN

'redemptive...readable and entertaining' THE TIMES

'...the author's grasp of emotions, and history of art as well as politics, lend depth and charge... [There is also] the sensuality of MacLeod's prose, whether dealing with art, desire or love; and her uncanny way of allowing us to experience the thought processes of her characters as if they are traversing our own brain synapses.' THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

'Unexploded is an unforgettable book. With exquisitely researched and rendered detail, the author plunges us into the panic and paranoia of war, fusing international politics, national politics and family politics in her powerful study of hypocrisy, oppression, cultural misunderstanding and desire.' BIDISHA

'Love, fear and prejudice are all skilfully anatomised in this compellingly intimate exploration of life in war time Brighton.' JANE ROGERS

'Finely wrought, moving and haunting. What a wonderful novel this is. Bravo Alison MacLeod.' POLLY SAMSON

'Macleod is astute, a good judge of the human condition, a writer able to create a powerful sense of place and time... Highly recommended.' BOOKMUNCH

*****


FIFTEEN MODERN TALES OF ATTRACTION:
'Alison MacLeod's collection of stories is a baker's dozen of excellence book-ended by brilliance... [T]he whole is ably piloted by MacLeod's total and impressive control of her material. Highly recommended.' TIME OUT

'MacLeod's fictions are modern indeed. They are fragmentary evocations of desire and its mysteries, passing glimpses into minds and hearts.... [Her] characters are strong, and they are worth listening to...' THE GUARDIAN

'MacLeod's strike rate is uniformly high. The opening story, "so that the land was darkened", can stand for her strengths. Quietly, obliquely, MacLeod conveys more about the randomness of urban living and the ruptures caused by terrorism than most issue-centered stories, or indeed novels, ever could.' THE MONTREAL GAZETTE

'Beautifully crafted, they range from brilliantly observed humour - customers stampeding in Ikea at the store's launch in Notes for a Chaotic Century - to the haunting and heart-rending - the tender elegy to a middle-aged love affair in Dirty Weekend. Immensely readable.'
THE BIG ISSUE


'Alison MacLeod is a strikingly original voice. Her stories create intimate worlds... and make the reader live in them with an intensity which is haunting, disturbing and above all beguiling.' HELEN DUNMORE

'Her stories are about attraction turned upside down: a young woman who falls for an unconscious hospital patient precisely because of his immobility, a couple divided by the London bombings of 2005, and a young girl whose tongue gets her into all kinds of trouble. These are nimble, magical stories.' THE SUNDAY BUSINESS POST

'MacLeod's range - spanning the movingly real to the mysteriously surreal - is excitingly, imaginatively realised and unified by an awareness of the dark menace of love's uncertainty.' METRO (LONDON)

'...beautiful, understated and touching love stories, which capture the attention at once and keep it until the last page. They are tales of intimacy and often of loss, gracefully and powerfully told...' THE TABLET


*******

THE WAVE THEORY OF ANGELS:
'MacLeod's novel ingeniously combines medieval theology with 21st-century physics. Her plot... set in Beauvais in 1284, concerns Giles, a woodcarver, whose work adorns the new cathedral. Giles's beautiful elder daughter, Christina, falls into a death-like trance from which neither he, nor his younger daughter, Marguerite, can wake her. Moving forward eight centuries to 2001, the story is that of Giles Carver, a physicist specialising in wave theory at a research centre in Chicago. His daughter Christina is also in a coma ... Parallels are drawn between the medieval and modern worlds, and even the religious fanaticism of the former is echoed in the American episodes. A cathedral tower falls in one story, the twin towers in the other, without seeming glib or contrived...' THE TIMES

'...a daring investigation of medieval philosophy, modern-day physics, and the relation of both to faith and desire... [MacLeod] has an engaged delight in the stuff of life...' TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

'The Wave Theory of Angels is utterly delightful, beautifully written... ' ALBERTO MANGUEL

'The Wave Theory of Angels is a bold and beautiful dismantling of the linearity and fixedness of time and space... [Its characters] live and breathe and, most important, desire, in rich period detail. ... [MacLeod] has achieved an enchanting, playful and, at times, dark probing of the limits of our knowledge. It's a novel that leaves us wondering if we will not forever continue to uncover further ranks of angels, other dimensions of time and space.' THE GLOBE AND MAIL (TORONTO)

'The Wave Theory of Angels - with its pervasive belief in the essential sameness of science and religion - is a compelling story that manages a subtle delivery... The tale is gripping, the transitions are flawless and the characters are well-drawn. MacLeod takes a risk with this novel and succeeds.' THE MONTREAL GAZETTE



BIOGRAPHY
Alison MacLeod's is the author of the 2013 Man-Booker-nominated novel UNEXPLODED, a story of love and prejudice set in Brighton in the early stages of the Second World War. She has published two other novels, The Changeling (Macmillan, 1996) and The Wave Theory of Angels (Penguin, 2005). Her short stories have been widely published, and broadcast on the BBC, and her acclaimed collection, Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction, was published by Hamish Hamilton/Penguin in 2007.

In 2008, she was the recipient of the Society of Authors' Award for Short Fiction, while her collection was nominated for the International Frank O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and named one of the 'Top Ten Books to Talk About' in 2009 in association with World Book Day. Her story 'The Heart of Denis Noble' was shortlisted for the prestigious BBC National Short Story Award and longlisted for The International Sunday Times EFG Award. Alongside her writing, she is Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester and is represented by David Godwin Associates, London.

In her work, MacLeod is interested in the force of the imagination in our lives. She is also drawn to stories of transformation; to those experiences of love, birth and death upon which our lives suddenly pivot. Her fictional range takes her readers from classic realism to the fantastic; from contemporary historical fiction to tales of the 21st century.

Find out more about her work and her upcoming appearances at 'Alison MacLeod' on Facebook.

Product Description

Review

Unexploded is an unforgettable book. With exquisitely researched and rendered detail, the author plunges us into the panic and paranoia of war, fusing international politics, national politics and family politics in her powerful study of hypocrisy, oppression, cultural misunderstanding and desire (Bidisha)

Love, fear and prejudice are all skilfully anatomised in this compellingly intimate exploration of life in war time Brighton (Jane Rogers)

Finely wrought, moving and haunting. What a wonderful novel this is. Bravo Alison MacLeod (Polly Samson)

A persuasive period setting, an intricate plot, sumptuous prose (Daily Telegraph)

An exploration of the xenophobia and neurosis unleashed in times of national crisis . . . MacLeod remains one of the most astute chaoticians writing today (Guardian)

Compelling, fast-paced, powerful. The descriptions of wartime Brighton are pin-sharp . . . the denouement is as heartrending as it is unexpected (Financial Times)

An intelligent, perceptive novel by a writer of great descriptive power . . . Like her modernist forebears, MacLeod knows that life and death, the terrible and the mundane always co-exist - her genius lies in illustrating these truths while simultaneously spinning a bona fide pageturner (Daily Mail)

About the Author

Alison MacLeod was raised in Canada and has lived in England since 1987. She is the author of three novels, The Changeling, The Wave Theory of Angels and Unexploded, and of a collection of stories, Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction. Unexploded was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2013. She is Professor of Contemporary Fiction at Chichester University and lives in Brighton.


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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Al James on 31 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Unexploded has some really good period descriptions of life in a coastal town in England in 1940. As others have pointed out, there are inaccuracies which should have been checked out, but as someone who doesn't know Brighton, I didn't find that a problem. What I did find more difficult was the fact that the characters did not fully come to life. That's not just because the story is told in the third person. It's more I think because they don't have an evolving vibrant consistency which makes them very immediate. That's a serious loss in a novel I think. The point of view also changes more or less midstream on occasions which is quite disorientating and alienating from the characters.

I was amused by the reviewer who said the novel should be called 'Similes Are Us'. It's a bit unkind, but there is a surfeit of similes, some of which seem to be there for the sake of it, and some which stretch credibility. There are also descriptive passages which are well written, but which seem to have no purpose beyond displaying the ability the author has. There is also a tendency to 'tell' rather than 'show', which is a cliche over used in writing circles (you can't show everything in a 300+ page novel) but which I guess Alison Macleod passes on to her students at Chichester.

Several reviewers have felt the ending is a disappointment. I don't share that. I think the ending works OK.

About a third of the way through this book, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to finish it. However, it was interesting enough to make me want to carry on. I can't say I disliked it. Equally I can't say I really enjoyed it as some reviewers clearly did. So I've given it the middle rating of three stars.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Basement Cat VINE VOICE on 21 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The opening chapter started so well, with Evelyn struggling to make do without her daily help, and trying to coming to terms with a possible invasion after the failure of the Dunkirk landings. This swiftly changed as historical errors blundered their way into the text of my pre-release copy, with mentions of paracetamol and antibiotics for Geoffrey's toothache. I hope this was corrected before publication, but my trust in the author was lost from that point.
Geoffrey, Evelyn and their son Philip are three people in a family that hardly seem to know each other at all. All three of them seem to be something else on the surface, maybe playing a role that they feel society has imposed on them. But just under that surface, and very easily exposed, is something else much darker. All this has unbelievably been hidden throughout their marriage, and all three of them go off the rails at the same time. The problem with this is, that it's very hard to care about what happens to any of these people. They seem to be deceitful and uncaring both to each other, and the others they involve as well. Because of the way that the characters are introduced to the reader, it just seemed too incredible that they would actually do these things too. I do not think that the author has understood how people really lived and interacted in the 1940's in Britain, but has used an idea based on a stereotype that never existed. This is a shame, because it could have been such a fantastic book. The plot is good, the ideas for the characters and the historical context, especially the location - all great, but only in the hands of a different author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bookwoman on 15 Feb. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Sometimes a book surprises me by being unexpectedly dreadful.
This looked like a quality read, with an original premise - a marriage disintegrating as Brighton prepares for internment and invasion in 1940 - and glowing reviews from some very respectable sources. Apparently it's intelligent (Evening Standard), memorable (Times Literary Supplement), viscerally powerful (Independent on Sunday), and artful (The Times). The author is "one of the most astute chaoticians writing today", according to the Guardian, and it was longlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2013.
Am I missing something?
Already stunned into disbelief by the weight of the author's turgid prose and unlikely dialogue, these two clunkers finally persuaded me to give up on page 47:
"The old beach chalet was lit by cracks of light as thin, as impermanent, as hope ... High overhead, cirrus cloud drifted like the ragged end of a dying man's last thought" ...
So if it suddenly improved after that, I do apologise (although I suspect it didn't, judging by some of the other critical reviews).
I see that the author is a professor of contemporary fiction: I would hope that if one of her students had submitted this manuscript it would have been returned with one word across the front page: overwritten.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel is set in Brighton, between May 1940 and June 1941. It begins literally days after Dunkirk, when the inhabitants of the seaside town are facing not only the harsh reality of war but the very real threat of invasion. There is only fifty miles of water between them and the enemy and Brighton is "an excellent place to land." However, both those poised across the Channel and those waiting for invasion have some similarities - in that many of them are anti-Semetic. That includes our heroine, Evelyn's, snobbish mother and her banker husband, Geoffrey.

Evelyn and Geoffrey Beaumont live in Brighton, as opposed to the more elegant and desirable Hove, where her mother resides - making deliciously sniping remarks and generally looking down on her daughter's lifestyle. Evelyn is the product of a finishing school and feels generally unable to cope with the cooking and household tasks she faces now she has no help. Geoffrey, although his mother in law may see him as hardly son in law material, is, in fact, one of the town's leading bankers, Head of the Invasion Committee and Superintendent of the new Internment Camp. Together with their eight year old son, Philip, they live a contented, if uneventful life, which war is about to change. Through the internment camp, Evelyn is to come into contact with Otto Gottlieb, a German artist. Both his presence in their lives, plus the war itself, will change Evelyn and Geoffrey's lives forever.

I found that I had immense sympathy for all the major characters of Evelyn, Geoffrey and Otto. The war changed their lives and Geoffrey, especially, was under immense pressure to "turn a blind eye" during his weekly camp inspection.
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