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We Used to Be Kings

We Used to Be Kings [Kindle Edition]

Stewart Foster
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £12.99
Kindle Price: £5.03 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Product Description


"Fresh...Original...Dazzling" (Observer)

"Stewart Foster’s elegant debut novel is a heartbreaking tale of a boy’s struggle with mental illness, set against the backdrop of the Space Race, 1970s summers and his family’s refusal to face the truth." (Mail on Sunday)

"There's so much to love in this book, he's such a beautiful, crisp writer. For a first book it's really amazing." (Mark Ravenhill Review Show (BBC Four))

"We Used to Be Kings is a very powerful book, written with a poignant intensity that often burns. It is one of the most touching books about madness I have ever read, and deserves a wide readership. Stewart Foster has created something very special." (Matt Haig)

"An extraordinary debut. The author trusts the reader to suss out the plot." (Sue Leonard Irish Examiner)

"There’s a youthful intensity about this coming of age story." (Theresa Munoz Herald)

"Foster's descriptive narrative keeps you gripped and desperate to find out more. A really well-written and engaging first novel, We Used To Be Kings is an absolute must-read." (UK Press Syndication)

"A highly original and hugely moving story of deep psychosis. Stewart Foster challenges us to live in his character's chaotic world, where the dead whisper in our ear, but throughout it all his compassion never falters." (Ciarán Collins, author of The Gamal)

Book Description

A devastating examination of insanity, set against a backdrop of Sputnik spaceships and Russian spies.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1306 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (30 Jan 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FM12KTQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #151,979 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving, funny, mysterious, dark and nostalgic. 8 Feb 2014
I was totally intrigued by Tom and Jack from page one, and although at first I found it hard to separate their voices (their dialogue is written in a very direct conversational style) I soon felt like I knew them. Although the themes of the book are dark, this isn't a depressing read - Tom & Jack's relationship is touching and often funny. Technically one of them is dead - apart from that, theirs is a relationship most siblings will recognise, with affection and insults in equal measure, and the bond between them keeps you willing them on. I loved the sequences set in the 70's and the boys' obsession with space - the author captures both the optimism and desperation of the era beautifully, like an oversaturated polaroid. The story is essentially about the search for answers following the disappearance of the boys' father, and in some ways I wished that more of the gaps in their history had been filled in - for their sake and the reader's. That said I couldn't put it down and the story and the characters are still very much in my head. Moving, funny, mysterious, dark and nostalgic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent story of two inseparable brothers 9 Feb 2014
This quietly beguiling novel tells the story of Tom, on the verge of adulthood and about to leave the young person's institution he has been living in, and his younger brother Jack. The only thing is, Jack is dead and yet to Tom he is very much alive. We Used to be Kings is about Tom's search for freedom, the brothers' search for their father who has not been seen since he headed off on a voyage to the Moon with the Russians and most of all about the close relationship between two brothers who are so deeply connected. Tom and Jack slowly crept under my skin and whilst the opening act in the institution lacked the sharpness of a truly new perspective, once the brothers reach beyond those walls We Used to be Kings begins to probe uncharted territory and becomes an undeniably compelling read. It wasn't until the novel's conclusion that I came to realise how far the brothers had ingrained themselves in my subconscious such is Foster's compassion for these boys - don't be surprised if you find yourself carrying them around with you even a few days after finishing the book.

Despite often probing darkness Foster knows just when to deploy a light touch, provoking smiles among moments of profound sadness. Not all the characters are as well drawn as the central protagonists but this only a minor quibble as this really is Jack and Tom's story through and through - the novel is even structured to give us their life story which Tom has been putting together in his own book, excerpts of which are delivered every other chapter. Whilst not necessarily evoking the excitement of the space race, I'm not sure that was truly the author's intention, We Used to be Kings has an endearing nostalgia for that era where anything seemed possible. A time when boyhood dreams are tantalisingly within reach.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 21 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a sensitive, amusing and beguiling depiction of the strength of a bond between two brothers told in a genuinely different and original style. Fast paced, easy to read, uplifting in many ways, moving and sad in others. I challenge anyone not to outwardly smile while reading it or be unmoved by Jack and Toms difficult journey.I would happily recommend this book to all ages of reader. You really wont find anything else quite like it! Very much looking forward to more work from this author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely 18 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Solid novel, well worth a purchase. Heartfelt, well paced adventure with a clever narrative style and some well fleshed out characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic story from beginning to end 8 Feb 2014
This is without doubt one of the best books I've ever read. I was hooked from the first page and found it thoroughly entertaining throughout. I would recommend this book even to the fussiest of readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunningly impressive debut. 25 April 2014
It is rare that an author trusts his reader in the way Stewart Foster does in We Used To Be Kings. A conventional writer would lead you through the narrative, but here you are allowed into the main character’s head and without having his tangled thoughts explained you can come to your own conclusions about him. The trouble in Tom’s mind is the constant voice of his dead younger brother, Jack, who is beguilingly innocent and knowing, and it is through their conversations that we learn about their past and the tragedy that sends them on a quest to find their father.
Out of this inner turmoil comes themes of friendship and dependency, hope and fate, but most of all Foster pays back the trust with an utterly convincing portrayal of mental illness, deftly balancing the darkness with laugh-out-loud moments that make the difficulty of their journey all the more poignant.
While this is placed as a novel for adults, it is an important coming-of-age story for teenagers too. A stunningly impressive debut.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique experience and enthralling read. 7 Mar 2014
By George
I loved this book. I found it quirky and intriguing, and couldn't put it down. It was dark, humorous, sad and thoroughly engaging. I can't say that I've read anything quite like it, apart from possibly The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-time. The style of the author is quite unique. I really cared for the boys and found their relationship and the relationship with their father deeply moving.
I would not hesitate to recommend this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend this read.
a truly wonderful piece of writing which I read in just over a day due to the gripping nature. This book gave a different insight into a mental health condition which is essential... Read more
Published 2 months ago by clare
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
i loved the story line very sad heart breaking but funny at times
tragic from the start
finished in a night
Published 6 months ago by deborahkilleen
5.0 out of 5 stars Stewart Foster writes like The Smiths sound...
I'd go on to explain this but would much rather that you bought a copy and enjoyed it for yourself. A refreshing, moving book.
Published 7 months ago by ANDREW M DEAN
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare gem!
If you are anything like me, the reading of most books is a day after day experience. Some of those books I may particularly like and make the effort of finding a little more time... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Fergus
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly engaging
The recollection of Tom & Jack's childhood and events surrounding Jack's death is a vehicle for shining moments of touching detail and sensitivity. Read more
Published 9 months ago by John Branston
5.0 out of 5 stars A promising debut
This thought-provoking book was recommended to me by a friend & I thoroughly enjoyed it. It captures the mood of the era very well & portrays the relationship between the boys with... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Flangeypants
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Funny, thought provoking, original, evocative of our recent past and ultimately a bit sad. I thoroughly recommend this to anyone who is willing to give a new author a try!
Published 10 months ago by Mikey
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read.
Saw this being talked about on the TV a few weeks back, so decided to take a chance on it. Just finished reading it, and would overall rate it as a thought provoking novel. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Bradley Howarth
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Really beautifully written, utterly immersive and thought provoking book, Stewart Foster’s use of the English language creates an intensely emotional read exploring the mind and... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mrs J L Wisbey
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