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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Separate Peace
Set in the exclusive The Devon School, in New England, this is a moving and evocative coming of age novel. Gene Forrester and his friend Phineas are both sixteen years old. It is 1942 and the spectre of war and enlistment loom over them, but the story begins in a gilded summer, when it seems as though nothing bad could possibly happen to them.

Academic Gene...
Published 1 month ago by S Riaz

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3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Interesting and Realistic Book
I enjoyed the novel A Separate Peace by John KNowles. He presents the main characters Phineas or Finny and Gene togethor in an all boys senior class. Their final year of childhood is upon them as the mystery and fear of WWII looms ever present beyond their 18th birthday. Knowles creates realistic characters in Finny and Gene, because of the way he allows the reader to...
Published on 3 Nov 1998


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Separate Peace, 30 July 2014
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
Set in the exclusive The Devon School, in New England, this is a moving and evocative coming of age novel. Gene Forrester and his friend Phineas are both sixteen years old. It is 1942 and the spectre of war and enlistment loom over them, but the story begins in a gilded summer, when it seems as though nothing bad could possibly happen to them.

Academic Gene is both exasperated by his roommate Phineas (Finny) and yet proud he has been chosen to be his closest friend and confidante. Finny is effortlessly a natural leader, an organiser, the sports star and always popular with the other boys. Gene finds himself dragged along in his wake, desperate to study and compete with Finny in the only way he knows how, and yet unable to avoid inclusion in his schemes. One of these is ‘The Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session,” which has a membership requirement of jumping from the limb of a tree and into the river. The jump is dangerous and Gene and Finny are required to make the leap before every meeting – something Gene never gets used to. One day, irritated and annoyed by Finny’s carefree behaviour, Gene climbs the tree and then does something he later comes to regret...

This is a story about friendship, competition, envy, unspoken accusations and the way closed knit communities, like schools, magnify and distort events. Of course, as the boys edge towards seventeen and enlisting becomes a real event in their lives, there is also the spectre of war and how that changes their lives and views of themselves. This is a classic I have never come across before, but I found it an intriguing and evocative read. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book tells the truth about human nature, 28 May 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Separate Peace (Mass Market Paperback)
A Separate Peace is probably one of the best books I have ever read. The characters are portrayed so realistically and the situations in which they find themselves, though not easily relatable these days, have a solid basis in a friendship anyone would be lucky to know. My parents bought this book for me, along with To Kill a Mockingbird, when I was 11 and I didn't read either for years. When I was 14, I read To Kill a Mockingbird and fell in love with it, but I just couldn't get through A Separate Peace. When I started college, I took a course in adolescent fiction, where this book was required reading -- and it quickly became obvious why. The characters came alive, and reading this at a time when I was away at a college in New England gave it all the more meaning. I know it is written for teenagers, but I can't help but think, especially after reading some of these reviews, that this is a book that can be truly appreciated after high school.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 2 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Separate Peace (Mass Market Paperback)
'A Separate Peace' is among the select few books I call my favorites-- and I never would have discovered it if not for my high school reading list. Lots of people seem to dislike it for the very reason that it IS required, but I'm glad that I got to experience it when I did. (My school removed it from the required reading list the year after I had to read it.) The most remarkable thing about the book is the unique relationship between Gene and Finny. Although one never learns what Finny thinks first hand, we can assume that he felt no jealousy or hatred toward Gene at any time, even after he learns the truth about the accident. Then he *is* badly hurt emotionally, but he still does not hate Gene. I don't think that Gene ever truly hated Finny either. He *was* jealous, but his real panic stemmed from the fact that Finny felt nothing but friendship and love for him. Gene wasn't emotionally ready to cope with a boy who, even though he was only 16, loved him unconditionally and wasn't afraid to admit it; Gene therefore convinced himself that he hated Finny rather than dealing with what he really felt, whatever that might be-- he never tells us. It's been theorized that there were homosexual undertones to this book; from what I noticed, I think it's possible. It would certainly explain Gene's panicked reaction to Finny's devotion. However, the emphasis is less on the *nature* of their relationship than on how they deal with it. I wish the ending hadn't been so sad-- I would have liked to see Gene reconcile with Finny, especially after they are both grown up. But then, it was obvious from the first what the "inevitable outcome" was to be. Gene simply was not emotionally equipped for Finny, and basically, he had to put Finny away from him to cope. He did this in the most permanent way possible-- he ultimately killed the person who cared for him more than anyone else. I'd love to discuss this book more... Feel free to email me!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Two simple words can summarize this: Interesting & Masterful, 10 Sep 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Separate Peace (Mass Market Paperback)
I remember receiving this book on the first week of my sophomore year in our English 10 class, although not distinctly--sadly enough, my short term memory is virtually nonexistent :P. In any case, when the book did appear on my desktop, I figured, "Hmmm, another bitter, drab, teary-eye WWII story. How quaint." Of course, I dug right into it upon reach, defiantly blotting the words of my teacher out in order to focus on the contents. As I devoured the pages word per word, it slowly encaptured me via exquisite plot and quality. Following this natural course, I went ahead and finished off the book while the rest of the class was still reading the second chapter--no offense to my classmates on that :) Honestly now, there should really be more writings that portray such a closed school environment and character in that type of dramatic, descriptive, and provocative manner. The excellent layout and the climactic moments in the story, such as the trial with Brinker vs Gene, seem to easily crush the few flaws it may possess. Although I will unlikely experience such an event, I can at least partially understand the intensified magnitude of school life back then. In reading the other reviews, I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it would seem apparent that anyone in the review list who hated the book--A.K.A. A 1-star rating--obviously didn't grasp the full concept of the story or simply gave it a glance and dismissed it without actually delving into the roots, too scared to even smudge the surface. As a closing note, if I can get this post through to the author John Knowles, I'd like to give my thanks for a interesting and masterful fictuous story on an inspiring segment of life told during WWII. Indeed it established what would be literally known as a separate peace.
-Ryan Gates
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5.0 out of 5 stars It is a story of man's inhumanity to man, 7 May 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Separate Peace (Mass Market Paperback)
I fell that this book was very good. It had a very good story line to follow. When I read John Knowles books, he writes in a manner , so that you can understand. This is a story of Gene's jealous toward Finny. Finny has a high comfednce and a very strong emotional side. In the book Gene says that no one could brake finny down, but i did. In the beginning we see this huge tree, which smybolize's the war on the outside. Gene jounces the limb causeing finny to fall hitting the ground braking his leg.Finny not know there is an internal war going on will not except the fact that his best friend could do such a thing. Gene even tells finny that he jounced the limb but he will not except reallity. During the story Gene's and finny's bond grows bigger and bigger. The brinker comes along and destroy's there friendship. Making an informal court they try to find out what happend in the tree. Making finny very mad, walking out we hear that finny fell down the marble stairs. He break's his leg again and gene comes to see him. He is very mad at him. Gene later comes to bring finny cloth's. One more he comes to find that finny had died for bone-marrow going to his heart killing him. What is weird is that he died by his heart stoping. His heart smybolize's his compassion which gene had taken away. Gene at the end never cried for finny.He said that there was a war going on, and that finny thought that i would come right at him, but enemies don't attact that way. if indeed you are an enemey. When i found out that finny had died, i began to cry. I know it sounds dumb, but what finny smybolized was freedom, good, emotions, no-selfness, and morality. How a person of such high moral could be broken down like a bug.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A NOVEL THAT REVEALS SAVAGE FORCES WITHIN HUMAN BEINGS, 13 Dec 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: A Separate Peace (Mass Market Paperback)
John Knowles was born on September 16, 1926, in Fairmont, West Virginia. He came from a wealthy family which allowed him to enjoy a comfortable life. In 1941, he attended Philips Exeter school that was very similar to Devon School in his novel A Separate Peace. Like the setting of the novel itself, he remained in the school until 1945. Knowles enrolled at Yale University after he graduated and continued to explore his love and interest in writing. He became the editor of the Yale Daily News and contributed stories to Lit, Story, and New World Writing. After he graduated in 1949, he began his career of writing. A Separate Peace was Knowles' first published and as well as his most successful novel. When it was first published in 1960, he was awarded with the Rosenthal Award of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the first William Faulkner Foundation Award. The novel was a great success. The story begins when the narrator by the name of Gene Forrester returns to Devon school fifteen years after he has graduated from it in 1944. He visits the marble stairs in the First Academy Building and the tree on the bank by the Devon River. He digs up his past memories and replays them in his mind. He remembers the time when jealousy and hatred toward his friend, Phineas, grew within him, allowing his savagery to yield. He purposely jounces the limb while Phineas is about to jump, inducing him to fall on the bank. Gene feels guilty of his misdemeanour and tries to divulge the truth to Phineas. However, Phineas denies the truth and Gene takes back what he has said after realizing that the truth hurts Phineas more. In the story, Phineas is distinguished from the others at Devon. He is energetic, creative, wild, carefree and most of all, idealistic. He is deemed one of the best athletes at Devon and is the inventor of the game, "blitzball". He tries to create a separate peace while a world war is occurring. Phineas trains Gene for the 1944 Olympics and organizes the Devon Winter Carnival. He even denies the existence of the war and by using his imagination, he explains the story of the war: "Well what happened was that they didn't like that, the preachers and the old ladies and all the stuffed shirts. So then they tried Prohibition and everybody just got drunker, so then they really got desperate and arranged the Depression. That kept the people who were young in the thirties in their places. But they couldn't use that trick forever, so for us in the forties they've cooked up this war fake." In the other hand, Gene's character contrasts Phineas'. Gene knows the existence of the war though he continues to comply with Phineas. He even recognizes the evil he has within him and finds an internal war he has against his own self which he strives to eliminate it. However, in many ways Gene is perplexed with his feelings toward Phineas. Gene envies his physical talents but also feels jealous of him. To release his jealousy and hatred toward Phineas, he shakes him off the tree, crippling him for life. However, within his mind, he has always wanted to be part of Phineas. When Phineas is sent to the Infirmary after his accident, Gene's desire becomes apparent. "I decided to put on his clothes...But when I looked in the mirror it was no remote aristocrat I had become, no character out of daydream. I was Phineas, Phineas to the life." However, as time passes by, Gene realizes that his love for Phineas subdues his original jealousy and hatred toward him. Gene is finally able to purify his confused heart by confessing to Phineas whom also accepts at last the reality of his friend's treachery and is willing to forgive him. In A Separate Peace, Knowles shows great techniques in his writing skills. Using Devon school as a setting, he depicts that there is a savage force within every individual. This force creates wars between nations and as well as jealousies in friendship. Knowles develops many symbolisms in the story which reveal the deeper meanings of life. For instance, jumping from the tree is similar to depriving the young men's innocence for the tree is describes as an artillery piece. Despite of the tedium of the narration in the beginning of the novel, the story develops rising actions very soon after the first chapter. In A Separate Peace, Knowles allows readers to participate in the experience of Gene by letting the narrator replay his memories rather than telling about the incidents. Thus, the readers are able to related to the characters which permits them to understand that such experiences can also exist in real life.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Interesting and Realistic Book, 3 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Separate Peace (Mass Market Paperback)
I enjoyed the novel A Separate Peace by John KNowles. He presents the main characters Phineas or Finny and Gene togethor in an all boys senior class. Their final year of childhood is upon them as the mystery and fear of WWII looms ever present beyond their 18th birthday. Knowles creates realistic characters in Finny and Gene, because of the way he allows the reader to glance into the the mind of GEne. Finny seems realistic because of the emotions, actions, and dialogue we see or hear from him through Gene's interpretations. I took delight in this style of writing. I also took pleasure from the surplus of conflicts readily available in the book. These seem to imitate true human life and give the book it's special tint of authenticity. Also, the backdrop of WWII gave a keen tinge to the story, which added both more stress among the boys and knowledge of the times to the reader. Although I won't reveal it presently, I also relished the ending, as it was clear and definite. I particularly enjoy endings of that nature. To heighten the lifelike qualities already present, Knowles adds characters such as Brinker who is smart and social, or Leper, who is more of a weak person but a good friend. Knowles adds these people as frioends because they bpoth rely on Gene and Finny as friends, increasing Gene's and Finny's importance. Overall, the style and content were quite enjoyable. Although not a thriller, A Seperate Peace was in its own subtle way enthralling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Youth we all remember, 31 Jan 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Separate Peace (Mass Market Paperback)
I will never forget the mornings I barely woke up just in time to depart to my school, with sunlight sneaking into my room, through those old, white curtains. Walking to school, with my old friends, and spending a day in that old building, which then I sincerelly disliked. And then, when the school day is over, walking slowly back, the sea tides changing, and the scent of the ever-green trees on the sea side.

This book is exactly about this - our childhoods, things we remember, things that we lost. It is a compelling story, not only interesting because of the way we can all see a part of ourselves in these boys, but because of the beautifully written descriptive story... When I read this novel, with every sentence that passed, I could smell the enviroment, one of that time, 1942, and one of my own childhood. The sentimental value this holds for me is irreplacable. I just recently read this book, and even now I feel butterflies in my stomach, not from what happened in this fictonal story, but from remembering my childhood and the beautiful memories of what I had, and never appreciated until it was no more...

All the great reviews about this book are not a result from the reader being really struck by the novel and the story, but from being reminded of their own teenage years, feeling in Gene's shoes when he revisits that old high school, and realizing just how short and wortless our lives are.

Dario Todorovic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Separate Peace is a remarkable piece of literature., 3 Nov 1998
By A Customer
I think A Separate Peace is a remarkable book. The reason why is because it made me feel as if I was actually immersed in the story. In the story Knowles brings his characters to life with enigmatic conflict he created. This feeling is created by the plethora of feelings that Gene and Finny face. One of the things I appreciated In A Separate Peace was the use of subjective action. With the main action of the story taking place inside Gene's head, I had to pay Assiduous attntion to things that seemed minor. This made it tough to comprehend everything that was happening. Since I was continuosly trying to out what was happening in the story I did not get bored reading it. The other reason I love this book is because of its theme. I believe the theme in this story is that one should always look for the finest qualities in a man instaed of his worst qualities. If Gene had looked at Finny this way from the beggining of the book Finny might have lived. This lesson helped me look for the finest qualities in a person not the undesirable qualities they posses. I feel John Knowles wrote a remarkable piece of literature. It succesfully captures the thoughts and emotions og real people. This makes the reader feel like he is being pulled into the story. This book is the only book I have read that has given such a realistic feeling to its characters, making it one of my all time favorites.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A Separate Peace Dazzles Bro. Ray's Class, 3 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Separate Peace (Mass Market Paperback)
Overall, I enjoyed the novel, A Separate Peace. Although I did not enjoy it as much as other books that I have read, its originality stands out from the rest. The well defined characters and intense plot development are factors that make me want to read it again. The protagonist, Gene, was so well defined that I could sense his emotions and outlook towards life. Another reason why I enjoyed this book was the fact of John Knowles sense of reality. I have not found any books that I have read similar to this novel. Its originality is a crucial factor for reading it. The conflict was one that I have not seen in most books. The twists and turns of the plot keep you attentive and hooked to this book. The originality of the novel is due to John Knowles view of life. In A Separate Peace, John Knowles philosophy of showing realistic morality proves to be a good choice because it makes the book more believable. With the book being more believable, one is able to associate with and enjoy it. One crucial key in the novel that aids the main plot is John Knowles belief that there is a savage force within an individual which must be recognized. This force is this inner ignorance of good that causes war between nations and jealousy betwen friends. If you read the novel, John Knowles view is clearly shown through Gene's actions. A Separate Peace was an exceptional book.
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A Separate Peace
A Separate Peace by John Knowles (Mass Market Paperback - 31 Dec 1975)
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