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The Year the Gypsies Came [Paperback]

Linzi Glass
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 April 2007

Emily Iris looks forward to the times her parents welcome house guests to their family's unhappy home. As long as the visitors are there, her mother and father will put their quarrels aside. But one spring a family of wanderers – an Australian couple and their two boys – comes to stay, starting a chain of events that will shatter Emily's world forever.

Will appeal to readers of Jennifer Donnelly's A Gathering Light and Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible.

On hardback publication this fabulous first novel attracted stunning acclaim.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141320923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141320922
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 11.9 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 570,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Wonderful . . . This is a new book with an old and wise heart. It may well have the makings of a classic (Guardian )

Beautifully, powerfully and compellingly written . . . extraordinarily moving (Sunday Times )

Realistically evoking the perspective of a child of the era, Glass spins a lyrical story that is at once heartbreaking and hopeful (Time Out )

This outstanding first novel arcs beautifully to its terrible climax and is deeply moving (Observer )

Every now and then a book comes along that's unusual, compelling and deeply absorbing yet is so tragically simple, it leaves an indelible trace on the memory. The Year the Gypsies Came is one of these (Irish Independent )

From the Back Cover

They came to us that spring and cast a spell over us. They changed our lives forever.

99 Winslow Lane, Johannesburg. A street lined with bluegum woods and lush foliage. Indoors, twelve-year-old Emily Iris's family are living a seemingly idyllic existence, but underneath it all are quarrels, unhappiness and uncertainty. One day, a family of wanderers - an Australian couple and their two sons - come to stay with the Irises. For a while, for as long as the visitors are there, Emily's parents can put their differences aside and be like a real family. But as spring goes on, these `gypsies' case shadows of different shapes over Emily's family, shadows which shatter them all. Even in her darkest moments, can Emily still find hope from within?

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Mother, Sarah and I are in Mother's powder-blue bathroom. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family Trauma 1 Dec 2007
By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This tale starts in Johannesburg in the late 1960s, during the years of Apartheid. We hear about how the Iris family take in house guests because they are trying to cover up their own unhappiness in their home. They have 2 daughters, 11-year-old Emily and her older sister, Sarah. Emily enjoys having these guests because whilst they have visitors her parents try to tone down their arguing. However, a group of travellers come stay and things don't go to plan and take a turn for the worse. The travellers are an Australian couple with two sons. At first, Emily and Streak become firm friends, and Sarah takes Otis, who is brain-damaged, under her wing. But then a dreadful tragedy occurs and nothing is ever the same again. Emily turns to their servant, Buza, who tells her his Zulu folk tales in an attempt to help her understand her problems.

This book covers many themes, such as abuse, rape, racial crimes and parental neglect, yet is immensely readable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, should be book of the year. 5 Feb 2007
I share the previous reviewer's surprise that this book has not made a major sensation and won all the prizes. I think perhaps we can put it down to the publisher not spending enough money plugging it rather than any fault in the book. It's stunning and should become a classic: I hope sanity prevails over the lack of hype and that it does find its place in teen literature. It is highly original in concept, exquisitely well written, moves at just the right pace, is full of wonderful and unusual characters. It's also the first book which ever made me realise how it felt to be a white person in South Africa during apartheid, even though this is just a peripheral part of the story. It tells of two daughters of warring white parents in South Africa. Their luxurious lifestyle and appealing surroundings seem sterile, and the children get their doses of reality and wisdom from the African servants - perhaps these are portrayed with just a tiny bit too much of a rose tint - and that's my only criticism. Into this life comes a wandering family - dad who is a wildlife photographer, Mum who was once a burning lady in a circus and wears a python round her neck, and two sons- a gross retarded one and an unhappy young one who yearns for a normal settled life. I won't give away the plot but it is full of feeling, tragedy, loss and love. This beautifully written book held my interest all the way through and sometimes I shed a few tears.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Day 'To Kill a Mockingbird' 9 Aug 2008
`The Year the Gypsies Came' is narrated by 2 year old Emily Iris. Emily lives in Johannesburg with her sister, Sarah, Mother, Father and two Zulu servants, Lettie and Buza, the night-watchman. Emily's home life isn't particularly happy; she wants to be closer to her mother and recognises that her family is breaking apart. Things do seem to become slightly better when a travelling family come to stay. Emily and Sarah make friends with the two sons, Otis and Streaker, but as Emily finds out more about the family she begins to understand that trouble is on its way. Emily takes solace in the company of Buza and the Zulu stories that he tells.

This is an incredible book, which seems to have been influenced strongly by both `To Kill a Mockingbird' and `Of Mice and Men.' I had no idea this book was for teens, and would say that it can be read and enjoyed by both teen and adult readers. As it is set in South Africa in the 1960s, there is also a political element to the book which adds depth and provides an incredible backdrop to the narrative. Adult themes are also dealt with sensitively, but this might mean that younger readers could find some scenes disturbing.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book; it even made me cry at the end, something that hasn't happened for years!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning 4 Dec 2007
This book has got to be one of the best things I've read all year, and I read for a living! It is beautifully written, has great plot and pace, and provides a brilliant insight into life under apartheid. It's a well crafted story that will stay with you for a long time after you put it down. Would highly recommend it for any readers from 13 upwards, but even as an adult reader, I found it moving and inspirational. Buy the hardback copy - you'll want to keep it and treasure it for many years to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaker 22 July 2007
I couldn't put this beautifully and succinctly written book down till I had finished it. Linzi Glass manages to balance humour and horror to maintain a realistic atmosphere and create both a magical and heartbreaking tale of innocence meeting its doom but that life goes on without it. It should definitely be a bigger hit - and I would guess that its not simply because it isn't inches thick as the requirements for blockbuster reads inevitably seems to be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars None 24 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
i really enjoed reading this book!!!!i literally read it in one day cause i couldnt put it down!this book really touched my heart as these things are happening every day and we dont realise how badly it could affect someone.i have myself an older sister and it would be horrible if she went through the same thing as sarah did.thank u u really touched my heart :)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book but missing something... 2 May 2012
I really enjoyed this book and was meaning to read it for ages, yet never got round to it!
I thought the characters were really well developed and I connected with them quickly, however I did feel something was missing from the plot, but that could just be me! Aside from this, I thought it was really good and nicely written. I do think one of her other books, Ruby Red, was better though.
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