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Valentine Grey Hardcover – 6 Sep 2012

65 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844088316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844088317
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 138,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Teasing out untold stories of the battlefield and of gay history, Toksvig's historical revisionism follows in the footsteps of the likes of Sarah Waters and Pat Barker . . . Toksvig's seemingly effortless ability to entertain shines through (Lucy Scholes Independent)

Toksvig's warm characterisation drives the narrative, especially when set against her droll yet richly details evocation of an unedifying period of modern history . . . It's a novel not just about the Boer War, but about a more subtle war against people who used to think it acceptableto treat women and blacks and gays abysmally. Fighting on both fronts is Toksvig's shining creation, Valentine Grey, a courageous and captivating character just begging for a sequel (Lucy Beresford Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

From one of the nation's best-loved writers and performers comes a wonderful novel about gender, liberty, empire and injustice.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By HAH on 10 Sept. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Sandi has combined her deep love of history and the English language to develop the most wonderful characters in a story that is both heart-breaking and uplifting. Unsurprisingly, she has perfectly captured the resilient female spirit as Valentine journeys to South Africa and into adulthood. Thank you Sandi, as always, a true inspiration!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Moira Clink on 24 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My first Sandi Toksvig book and certainly not my last. What a brilliant writer she is! And the bibliography is huge - she has done so much research into the Boer War and society in that era that you really feel transported into that time in history. I love novels that educate at the same time as entertain, and there is just so much to learn in these pages. For both sexes, this is a book I would recommend to any age of reader. Just sorry I bought it on Kindle as now I can't pass it round my whole family!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jonesy on 13 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I heard about the book on Radio 4 and knew I had to read it. The book is a superb read and gathers pace quite quickly, at some stages I thought the plot was to easy to anticipate but rarely did it work out that way.
The historical aspects are so detailed but merge in with the story so well, you are never bored by masses of irrelevance only put there to prove the author researched the subject.
Sandi does such a good job it is difficult to not complete the book an wonder if it was actually Valentine's hand that had written her autobiography.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By meg straiton on 14 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Couldn't put it down - a fascinating work covering the unheroic aspect of the Boer war and also attitudes to homosexuality at the time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alison Leonard on 5 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I went to hear Sandi at a LitFest event because I love her as a comedian, and had no idea that she's a brilliant novelist as well. She could easily be 'literary' but instead she chooses an immediate, unpretentious story-telling style which rollicks along. I was enjoying it hugely until... until it got to South Africa and the Boer War. Then I was gripped in a vice. Page after ghastly page, I lived it all with Valentine, the woman-man turned man-woman, who experiences everything from both perspectives.

This truly is the forgotten war: I was vaguely aware that we Brits had invented the Concentration Camp there, but otherwise I'd just heard little clips like 'died of enteric at Bloemfontein'. War fiction usually makes me feel sick - I was a wimp and skipped chunks of Birdsong, for instance - but this held me against all the odds; it was a revelation. And Reggie's story had me weeping. From hilarious theatrical fun and parties with his glorious lover Frank right through to the (very, very) bitter end, it broke my heart. An absolutely stunning novel.

Sorry to reach for a cliche - it's a must-read.
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By Jo Brookes on 18 Dec. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really interesting. Its about time someone related the horrors of the Boer war - it had so many hideous firsts including the first use of concentration camps. The description of the horrors that the largely volunteer army went through are eye-opening. As is is the reminder that wars are generally over power, resources and wealth; whoever actually lives there is just a background inconvenience. There are no good guys in this story - individual Boers and British are decent but neither care about the people whose land it actually is. The main focus of the book is on Valentine who ends up the the Boer War but also we get the story of Valentine's cousin Reggie (& his relationship with Frank) in whose name she goes to war. Those bits are equally well but grimly done and draw a picture of Victorian London with its music halls, opium dens, asylums, atmosphere of violence and utterly constrained lives for women of all classes. Its well written, the dialogue is generally convincing, the plot is a little dodgy at first but has to be I think, to set up the bulk of the book although women disguising themselves as male soldiers is as old as war itself. Valentine's story is written in the first person and this really brings home the horrors. Occasionally the transitions feel clunky and I wonder if that was an over heavy handed editor or just the realisation that actually this could probably have been two books. Not a feelgood read but a hugely recommended one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Moth on 25 Dec. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written book. The background scenario is the Boer War and the appalling hardships endured not only by the British troops but also by the inhumanity meted out to Boer civilian women and children. R uinning parallel is the treatment of homosexuals in turn of the century England. The heart rending story of a heterosexual girl and her homosexual cousin is told with great feeling and sensitivity. To outline the intertwined plot would spoil the book. I shall anticipate further novels from Sandi Toksvig eagerly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Bowden on 20 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Sandi, she never ceases to entertain. This is well researched and detailed without the detail being boring. It is a light read that has a gentle comedic flow. Highly recommended and diverting.
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