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We Are All Made of Glue [Hardcover]

Marina Lewycka
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 July 2009

From bonding to bondage, from B&Q to Belarus, along with seven smelly cats, three useless handymen, two slimy estate agents, social workers, a bonker lady. The story of a very unlikely friendship.

Georgie Sinclair's husband has walked out; her sixteen-year-old son is busy surfing born-again websites; and all those overdue articles for Adhesives in the Modern World are getting her down.

So when Georgie spots Mrs Shapiro, an eccentric old Jewish émigré neighbour with an eye for a bargain and a fondness for matchmaking, rummaging through her skip in the middle of the night, it's just the distraction she needs. And although they mistrust each other at first - Georgie doesn't like the look of that past-its-sell-by-date fish, while Mrs Shapiro thinks Georgie needs to smarten herself up and grab a new husband - a firm friendship is formed over the reduced-price shelf at the supermarket.

Then Mrs Shapiro is admitted to hospital and to Georgie's surprise, she is named as her next of kin. But sorting out Mrs Shapiro's semi-derelict mansion in Highbury, home to seven stinky cats with agendas of their own, is no easy job when the handyman called in to change the locks turns out to be not what he seems and his two assistants, 'the Uselesses', are doing more breaking than fixing.

And what about the two slimy estate agents (one with a charming taste for bondage) who start competing to trick Mrs Shapiro into selling her rickety old house, or the social worker determined to commit her to a nursing home?

As Georgie steps in to help her new friend, she finds herself unravelling a mystery which takes her from Highbury to wartime Europe to the Middle East, and learning a bit about DIY along the way.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Fig Tree; First Edition edition (2 July 2009)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1905490224
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905490226
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 524,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marina Lewycka was born in Kiel, Germany, after the war, and moved to England with her family when she was about a year old. Her first novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, has sold more than a million copies in the UK alone and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, longlisted for the Man Booker and won the Bollinger Everyman Prize for Comic Fiction and the Waverton Good Read Award. Her second novel, Two Caravans, was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Two Caravans and Marina's third and fourth novels, We Are All Made of Glue and Various Pets Alive and Dead are all available in Penguin. Marina Lewycka lives in Sheffield.

Product Description


An exuberantly comic writer whose work is characterised by both great humanity and unusual charm (Evening Standard )

A witty, touching story about an unlikely friendship (Express )

Gorgeously funny (Independent )

Had me crying with laughter (Daily Telegraph )

Vibrant dialogue, a family in meltdown, a clash of cultures and wonderful cast of expertly observed characters. Pure laugh-out-loud social comedy (Daily Mail )

Hilarious. A big-hearted confection of the comic and the poignant (Literary Review )

A big, bustling novel, told with enthusiasm by a narrator who is warm, winningly disaster-prone and, crucially, believable (Spectator )

Georgie is a lively, intensely sympathetic narrator ... brimming with warmth and busyness (Guardian )

Marina Lewycka is an instantly likeable writer, funny, intelligent and refreshingly generous in her assessments of people and their motivations. She writes about modern life so well. An extremely enjoyable read (New Statesman )

Uplifting. Lewycka's style is so appealing, so friendly (Sunday Times )

A truly engaging and funny book (Woman )

Lewycka is a good, serious writer with a strong, original voice (Sunday Telegraph )

A very funny and touching story of a friendship and a mystery unravelled

(Woman & Home )

About the Author

Marina Lewycka was born in Kiel, Germany at the end of the war and grew up in England. She is married with a grown-up daughter and lives in Sheffield. Her two previous novels, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and Two Caravans, are available in Penguin now.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some lovely human bonding 15 July 2009
I loved this warm, funny story about two lonely women who form an unlikely but very touching friendship.

When she's not editing online articles about adhesives, Georgie is penning her hilariously bad romantic novel 'The Splattered Heart' and dreaming of lantern-jawed heroes. There are some very funny moments but, as with Marina Lewycka's previous book, Two Caravans, there's a serious side as well.

After being named as her next of kin when Mrs Shapiro goes into hospital, Georgie unravels her neighbour's history through a series of hidden letters and photographs, spanning the rise of Hitler and the Arab-Israeli conflict, with some pretty shocking discoveries along the way.

Mrs Shapiro is a wonderfully colourful creation and Marina Lewycka's brilliant ear for dialogue is very much in evidence. Unfortunately there's no 'Dog' this time, but there are plenty of cats to keep animal lovers happy (I loved 'Wonder Boy').

After being a bit underwhelmed by Tractors (I blame the hype) but loving Caravans, I wasn't sure what to expect this time, but on the evidence of her latest book Marina Lewycka gets better and better. The 'message' is perhaps a little cheesy - something to do with the 'glue' that holds us all together - but totally forgivable as the endearing characters and gentle humour made this a really entertaining and uplifting read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best of three, for me 18 Nov 2010
Isn't it odd, how different people see different books? For me this was the best of Lewycka's three books so far. I found "Tractors" readable but to be trying a bit too hard - "look at me, me I can write of funny families who have odd outlandish customs from foreign, yes?" (though I'm sure Marina Lewycka doesn't talk like that) and "Caravans" was far better, maybe because it was less claustrophobic, less limited to the odd antics of a single family. This, for me, is better again.

We're back to a "single family" cast here, or at least a family which is getting steadily weirder plus a very weird old lady who has a touching history (or does she?). The weird old lady maybe owes a little too much to Alan Bennett's Lady in the Van (Miss Shepherd, a real person whose story is told in The Lady In The Van) but is pretty much believable, as is her struggle with the Forces of Darkness in the form of Social Services - the internal power struggles within Social Services are especially funny. I'd recommend trying this one, even if you tried "Tractors", didn't like it, and didn't bother with "Caravans" on the strength of that.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massively stuck on this novelist 7 Mar 2010
Marina Lewycka's book are like plain brown paper parcels that contain something wonderful titles about 'tractors' caravans' and 'glue' may not get your pulse racing but this is beautifully crafted, effortlessly funny stuff. I am not really fussed if I laughed a little bit less with this one than her previous books...laughs in fiction are few and far between so, I applaud anyone who genuinely put a big smile on my mush. I love the fact that while the touch is delicate - the issues can be heavyweight...painful conflicts, marital break-down, scandelous care of the elderly and a son obsessed with Armagedon.
I love the subtle homour....it's hard to give an example without blowing the plot but a suitably ditzy would-be novelist befriends an insane 'lady' of indeterminate age and origin and has to poke around her gruesomely smelly house - incontinent old ladies/many cats etc...the bathroom is suitably disgusting but, a fairy Godmother social worker dismisses the appalling state with a kindly "There's no accounting for cultural diversity"...a quote I'll memorise and use again I am sure.
great book...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MARINA DOES IT AGAIN 24 Aug 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed both of Marina Lewycka's 2 previous books, and had my doubts that "We are all made of glue" would be able to come anywhere close to their humour and pathos. Well, yet again I was happily mistaken. This book is by far much better. It has the usual mix of poignancy, pathos and a great big dose of humour just for good measure.

It follows Mrs Shapiro, an elderley Jewish lady and Georgie, a glue journalist and aspiring Mills & Boon type author. They meet at a discount area of a supermarket and the strange friendship that developes encompases grasping social workers and estate agents. Some very dodgy builders and a mystery about who Mrs Shapiro really is.

There is plenty to make you laugh but also a fair amount to make you think as well. Taking in the North/south social divide, WWII, the holocaust, the Belfour declaration and Isreal's history since 1948, but don't let that put you off, this is an excellent read. Wonder Boy is fantastic and probably has the best introduction in a book I have ever read.

If you are looking for a well written entertaining book this is well worth the investment as it is one of those books that can be read time and time again and still make you laugh.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holding it together 23 Dec 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a delightful novel about Georgie, editor of an adhesives trade magazine (which provides a rich extended metaphor about human bonding, and indeed bondage). Her husband has recently left her and her teenage son is obsessed with Armageddon. Then she meets Mrs Shapiro, an eccentric emigree who lives nearby in a big dishevelled mansion with a herd of cats. After a death-defying fish supper at Mrs Shapiro's (more salmonella than salmon), Georgie is surprised to find herself named as next of kin when Mrs Shapiro lands in hospital after a fall. Thus begins a battle between Georgie, looking out for the old lady, and various forces of darkness in the shape of estate agents, social services types and council officials, all of whom want to get their mitts on the property. A Palestinian handyman with his two juniors, the "Uselesses", enters the scene when the house needs repairs, and so, through his story and Mrs Shapiro's connections in Israel, the focus shifts obliquely to the Holy Land and its difficult history.
This book is both serious and hilarious and celebrates the triumph of the individual over greed and callous officialdom.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very funny.
Published 16 days ago by Noname
1.0 out of 5 stars utter rubbish
dont bother. read like poor chick lit. i hated it. tried to read more as was for a book club but just couldnt stomach it.
Published 23 days ago by Tina Flintham
2.0 out of 5 stars Lewycka unstuck
What a let down after "Tractors" and "Caravans". I felt that the author was resting very much on her laurels after her previous novels. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Martin Daly
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
great humour
Published 1 month ago by Niels Holleriis-Lassen
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad way to pass the time
The author's witty and jovial writing style made it a good read. In fact at times I thought her playfulness turned it into a bit of a farce, nevertheless she also manged to cover... Read more
Published 2 months ago by J Hutch
4.0 out of 5 stars Second time
This is the second time I have read this book and still find it funny, moving, and difficult to put down. The characters are believable and invite sympathy. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Judy Nestoe
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillliant
I have already read this and now bought it for my sister's birthday. Brilliant book, very funny but also informative and moving. This author gets better with every book.
Published 7 months ago by Blonde
3.0 out of 5 stars A good novel bursting to escape
Marina Lewycka has a lot of interesting things to say about some of the issues in world history.

She refers to the Middle East and links the situation there to the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Gargoyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeping it together
An entertaining, somewhat mad plot embrasing marriage, motherhood, dementure, Zionism and the Palestinian problems (among other topics) and a little bit about glue. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Patrick Benham-Crosswell
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant.
A delightful tale, which resonated for me, on many levels. Beautifullty constructed. Would happily read more of the same ilk. Read more
Published 11 months ago by J P
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