20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 1999
This is strongly recommended for first year English students.
The book provides an excellent beginners' reference guide to the different 'types' of novels and is an excellent easy reference guide to the study of English Literature.
Hawthorn uses every-day language to explain a lot of the very difficult concepts that need to be mastered by the new university student or anyone hoping to read further about the intricacies of the novel.
This is probably too detailed for the A-Level student and certainly there is not enough depth for the graduate student, but for the rest this book is invaluable.
Of the many, many reference works I bought during my three years at University, this was the one that I was most glad I read.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2002
I read a great deal of fiction, and wanted something that would give me more insight about how fiction - and novels in particular - work. I wanted something that assumes no background knowledge (my being a scientist by training) yet wasn't too simplistic. This book almost fitted the bill. It covers the history of the novel, different types of genre, criticism, how to read and write critiques, and how to analyse fiction (e.g. in terms of plot, dialogue, symbolism, and so on). There is also a reasonable - and for a change, accessible - coverage of postmodern approaches to the novel. The book is geared towards first-year English literature students but that wasn't a problem for me. My reservations about the book are: (a) occasionally I found things weren't explained in enough detail, or assumed too much prior knowledge; (b) most of all, I would have liked many more examples.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2007
I am starting the Open University's A210 "Approaching Literature" and this books delivers what I need in order to start working on novels - clear, concise, and most of all very useful for students in Literature!
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2010
Strongly recommended for first year English students. I was studying English Literature, and many University's run a similar module - focusing on the novel and how it began.
Hawthorn provides an great beginners' guide to different novels, and is easy to reference.
The book is accessible, using every-day language explaining a lot of the difficult concepts that need to be understood by the freshers/university students or anyone hoping to read further about the details of the novel.
A level students may find this too advanced, and graduates too simple, but the undergraduate student will find this book an invaluable purchase. Indeed, during my time at uni this was the book I used the most and found the most helpful.