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Waterland (Everyman's Library; $V 356) [Hardcover]

Graham Swift , Tim Binding
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.06
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Book Description

15 Oct 2013 Everyman's Library; $V 356

Graham Swift’s extraordinary masterpiece—a finalist for the Booker Prize—WATERLAND weaves together eels and incest, ale-making and madness, the heartless sweep of history and a family romance as tormented as Greek tragedy into one epic story.

In the flat, watery Fen Country of East Anglia, a passionate history teacher named Tom Crick is being forced into early retirement from the school where he has taught for thirty years. When a student rebelliously questions the value of the subject to which Tom has devoted his life, Tom responds with his own personal retrospective. His story—intertwined with the stories of the local wetlands, the French Revolution, and World War II, among other things—throws light onto the dark circumstances of the current day, revealing how his wife’s tragic youth led to the events surrounding his forced retirement. A monumental tribute to the past, a gripping multigenerational family saga, and a powerful affirmation of the history of self, this exceptional novel illuminates the cycles of time in which we live.

Book Jacket Status: Jacketed

Introduction by Tim Bunding

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library (15 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375712372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375712371
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,461,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Swift's 1983 masterpiece - a wonderfully rich novel that, as this 25th anniversary edition shows, has weathered the passing years.' -- Independent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Graham Swift was born in 1949 and is the author of many acclaimed novels, two collections of short stories (England and Other Stories, and Learning to Swim and Other Stories) and Making an Elephant, a book of essays, portraits, poetry and reflections on his life in writing. With Waterland he won the Guardian Fiction Prize (1983), and with Last Orders the Booker Prize (1996). Both novels have since been made into films. Graham Swift's work has appeared in over thirty languages. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Didn't get bogged down 19 May 2009
Graham Swift's study of life and history in the fens of South Eastern England is not what I'd call an easy read; the story opens with a History teacher and former lock-keeper's son, Tom, telling of how he saw a local boy drowned in the river some thirty years ago. Flash-forward to the present day and Tom's post is being gradually eroded - as is his marriage due to his wife's issues with her inability to have children - so he decides to forget the syllabus he is supposed to teach and teach from his own experiences growing up in the fens...
Swift's themes are the nature of history, provincial life, and adolescent love; he never pulls his punches and consequently the novel needs to be perservered with at times. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Swift's most acclaimed novel didn't win, however it remains a powerful and moving story and one that should be read.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fenland Epic 30 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Seldom have I read anything as powerful as 'Waterland'. The sense of place is as strong as anything in Wordsworth, Lawrence or Hardy. During the reading of this novel, your imagination becomes eaten-up with the frighteningly flat landscape of the Fens, with its canals and dykes and eals and, most frightening of all, its people. The story is at once epic, huge, and yet insular and particular. As Tom Crick leads us through the sometimes bizarre, occasionally horrific, history of his family, we see his generation become the most bizarre, the most horrific yet. His family history culminates in the end of history his pupils so dread.
'Waterland' attacks some of the biggest issues of late twentieth century life: the first world war, the change in culture since the second world war, the threat of the third world war, loss of identity, loss of meaning, anarchy, incest, family, love.
This was the first work I had read by the author, and since reading most of the others, by far his best in my opinion.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and thrilling 1 July 2008
By Jonathan Birch VINE VOICE
When all is said and done, Waterland is a cracking yarn of murder and bonking against a fenland backdrop. But what's special about this macabre literary thriller is the way the story is told. The narrator (a history teacher, Tom Crick, who is also the key protagonist) interleaves the central narrative (set in 1943) with scenes from his troubled present (1983), evocative detours into the eventful history of his family, and philosophical musings on the uses of history. The strange chapters in this final category are reminiscent of Tolstoy's essay-chapters in War and Peace; and, like Tolstoy, Swift somehow gets away with it. In fact, the sinuous structure of the novel only adds to the suspense: just as you think you're approaching a revelation, the narrator goes off on a new tangent. It works brilliantly, because the novel's central mystery (what exactly happened in 1943?) puts a voltage across the entire book, sucking you onwards towards the end.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graham Swift - Waterland 3 Sep 2008
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
I've read so many great books of late that I'm constantly surprised that each one betters the next! After reading Richard Yates' superb Revolutionary Road, I knew that was a hard act to follow, but Waterland not only followed it well, but bettered it. It is certainly one of the best British novels that I've ever read, a masterpiece of original narration. It is, of course, the narrative that is the absolute crowning achievement of this: Swift tell's various stories here, all mappped over one another, in varying chapters and interlocking in various ways: we have the contemporary story of Tom Crick, a history teacher being forced into early retirement, who narrates the book in a series of "lectures" to his final class. Then we have the story of Crick's childhood in the Fens, his life with his family and friends and tales of growing up, which include murder, young love and suicide. Crick also narrates to his students the wider story of the Crick family, his ancestors and how they came to their place in the Fens. He sets all of this against the wider backdrop of events in history such as the French Revolution, and the the geographical history of the Fen landscape, and how humans have shaped it over various stages in time. Put like that, it sounds dry, but it really isn't at all. Every strand of it is fascinating, and very lively to read. Swift's style, in Crick's narration, is a masterpiece of wordsmithing, playful, intelligent, witty, pyrotechnic in a subtle, fun way.

It's a seriously excellent book, Waterland. An examination of one man's life and ancestral history, an exploration into the purposes and philosophies inherent in the studying and uses of history itself, and a thrilling mystery. There's more than one mysterious death, here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, entertaining and thoughtful 4 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Waterland is an engaging and thoughtful novel which has a nice balance of ideas-led and action/character-led elements within its structure. It is an elegaic look back at the passing of time and the significance of childhood and early adulthood, woven around a story which relates to the past as much as to the present. Having said that, it is never over-florid or over-clever, but has nice clean lines running through the writing style.
I am very impressed by the quality of the writing and the control that Swift shows over the different elements of plot and characterisation, which never faltered or allowed my interest to slip away. Some elements of the style did irritate slightly - the narrator's voice seemed in places a little over-stylised (even if this does suit the narrator's character), but overall this stylisation does actually add texture to the novel, even if in places it leaped out at me.
I have never read anything by Graham Swift before, but certainly intend to after reading this. A definite recommendation!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
OK I got a bit bored half way through
Published 21 hours ago by Max
4.0 out of 5 stars From glinting waters to lurking silt
"Waterland" is the first book by Graham Swift I've read and I was pleasantly surprised, at first, with the quite original concept and style of this novel. Read more
Published 29 days ago by J. R. P. Wigman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book. Read it years ago, and bought this for a friend.
Published 1 month ago by Johanna
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting start but seemed to me to lose momentum half ...
Interesting start but seemed to me to lose momentum half way through. What was he trying to tell me the reader and as for the explanation re eels well it nearly finished me but I... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Cynthia Mary Keigwin
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't finish it.
This was chosen by book club, couldn't get into it very well not my type of book so didn't finish it sorry.
Published 4 months ago by margaret verrecchia
1.0 out of 5 stars VERY LONG WINDED AND BORING
I have tried to stick with this book but is so BORING!! So I cave up and went to sleep
Published 5 months ago by MR A J HONEY
2.0 out of 5 stars Classroom duty calls
I can't say I enjoyed the damn thing - I found the concept to be a little dry (HAH) and there were a few times when I had to stop for a nap. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Kirsty McAlpine
4.0 out of 5 stars Fen lands
There are beautiful descriptions of the fen lands and the waterways lots of interesting historical info bit of a strange morbid tale though
Published 9 months ago by teacher
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant novel
Reread this after almost 30 years - as extraordinary as it was on first reading. Brilliant evocation of a tragedy played out through time and place in the strange, watery landscape... Read more
Published 12 months ago by S. H. Moss
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I really enjoyed this. It took a while to get not it but by the end I was totally hooked.
Published 13 months ago by CJ
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