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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unambiguously great
This novel is a rare thing - it has big serious things to say about the way the world is and the way we live our lives, yet its central ideas are explored through characters you can't help engaging with and whom you care about, whether they inspire horror or pity or admiration or bewilderment or, more often, complex ambivalent responses. The story is compelling,...
Published on 5 Feb. 2007 by K. M. Bainbridge

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars All cake and little fruit
There are some very good things in this book: the courtroom scenes and the blackjack tutorial stand out. The reference near the end to "learned helplessness" and the descriptions of insider dealing in the stockbroking firm indicate a fine nose for the way our Western societies are going.

But I agree with the reviewers who find the book (a) too long and...
Published on 18 Sept. 2010 by C. W. Robbins


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unambiguously great, 5 Feb. 2007
By 
This review is from: Seven Types of Ambiguity (Paperback)
This novel is a rare thing - it has big serious things to say about the way the world is and the way we live our lives, yet its central ideas are explored through characters you can't help engaging with and whom you care about, whether they inspire horror or pity or admiration or bewilderment or, more often, complex ambivalent responses. The story is compelling, mysterious and seriously well plotted; the widely various backgrounds of the characters are entirely convincing. In the end I was moved, impressed, made to think and reflect, and felt I had experienced a slight inner shift - in decades of reading seriously I find very few books do all this.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, challenging and thoughtful., 16 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Seven Types of Ambiguity (Paperback)
When I picked up this book in a train station WHSmith store, I did so with the intention of broadening my literary tastes. Naturally, I approached it with certain trepidation; after all, people are resistant to change.
When I opened this novel, however, I was greeted with something quite different from the expectations I’d formed in my mind. It is, quite definitely, a novel of this century, touching upon issues both economic and social that are relevant to modern life, and yet Perlman communicates his observations with grace. His prose flows effortlessly, breathing poetry into potentially mundane subjects, beguiling the reader at times when the plot fails to thrill. This, fortunately, is a rare occurrence, as the novel has seven narrators, each continuing their predecessor’s account, relieving much of the tedium when a particular voice starts to irk.
Perlman has received criticism for the apparent lack of ambiguity in relation to his narrators and their perceptions of events, and I have considered this carefully since finishing the book. Admittedly, there is a definite similarity in the tone of the seven parts, but I attribute this to the author’s style, which it cannot be argued, is imperative to a writer’s identity. But can that be the case in this situation, where the subject of ambiguity, the theme supposedly illustrated, is the very quality missing from Perlman’s characters? I suggest that the reader look deeper, closer at the characters, at their subtle differences. An acute observation reveals that the characters’ slightest difference in interpreting the events of the novel severely affect their outcomes. Here, Perlman is forcing the reader to work for their own meaning; he creates ambiguity by the very nature of his narrative structure.
The plot itself, whilst far fetched, is deeply moving and confrontational in its controversy and dubiety. The reader feels empathy towards characters with an implied lack of morals, and warmth towards initially likeable characters is tested. The kidnapping of a child, the central storyline, is both disturbing and infuriatingly beneficent in nature. This acts to enhance the reader’s experience, and challenge personal moral ideology in favour of general moral ambiguity.
If this book succeeds in reaching the reader, it does so in the following way; it can help open one’s mind to the existence of grey in a world of apparent black and white. Well written, moving and emotionally gruelling at times, Seven Types of Ambiguity is a beautiful account of contemporary life and the fragility of human beings, and their often fallible interpretations of truth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Seven Types of Ambiguity, 17 Jun. 2011
By 
-EFox- (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Seven Types of Ambiguity (Paperback)
For anyone who's ever been depressed, or been in a mental state different from the considerable norm, this book is for you. I can easily see how this book can be divided into two - those that relate and those that don't. It's packed with philosophical and psychological reasoning, and heavily quotable sentences that are so true to life, you really wish you wrote them yourself.

The book follows a story of the obsessive and heartbroken Simon, whose life is dominated by the memory of his ex-lover, Anna. In a spur of madness he does something that will change both of their lives, for better and worse, and the book provides seven different viewpoints and opinions on the series of events; seven characters, seven types of ambiguity. The thing that makes the book so great though is the character of Dr Alex Kilma, Simon's psychiatrist. If, as a reader, you've ever had the experience of visiting such a doctor, you'll probably romanticise and connect with him more than anyone else can. He's the type of psychiatrist that films provoke and reality lacks; the will-drive-to-your-house-at-night committed, the type where your problems have taken over his whole life, the one that always says the right thing in a session, and every one is an intense debate about the world, or the things and metaphysics within it. However, he is in no way storybook, and neither is the story - it's easy to imagine it all as very real.

I didn't like the ending, but thinking about it, I don't know what I would have preferred. Sometimes the overall storyline, when looking at it all as a whole, seems a bit unbelievable, in the sense of 'all that happened and they still did that?'. But as a whole, it was a really endearing read. One of my biggest complaints about books is that often they are too predictable, but there were times when I was genuinely shocked and completely not expecting the instantaneous but logical twists wrapped into the plot.

I can see how some people could find this book hard to delve in to, and even find it a bit of a bore. Dare I say it's ambiguous? I certainly found it a highly unpredictable and eye-burningly gripping read. Will you? Read it and find out.
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2.0 out of 5 stars All cake and little fruit, 18 Sept. 2010
By 
C. W. Robbins (Spain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Seven Types of Ambiguity (Paperback)
There are some very good things in this book: the courtroom scenes and the blackjack tutorial stand out. The reference near the end to "learned helplessness" and the descriptions of insider dealing in the stockbroking firm indicate a fine nose for the way our Western societies are going.

But I agree with the reviewers who find the book (a) too long and repetitive; (b) implausibly all on one note; (c) with a feeble plot depending on coincidences; (d) having characters one dislikes or at least can't sympathise with: Simon is feeble, Joe is a drunken thug, Alex is an ineffective wimp, Angel is a mystery (why does she engage in prostitution?), Anna is confused and heartless, Mitch a borderline case; (e) showing almost no ear for the varied ways in which people speak - with the exception of the Greek grandfather (the New York Times compared Perlman to Dickens and George Eliot!!).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A most fantastic read, thoughtful and provoking, 27 Feb. 2010
By 
Ms. L. Bannister (Scotland, Britain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Seven Types of Ambiguity (Paperback)
Eliot Perlman seems to write about psychiatry, the breakdown of global community fuelled by social divisions around economics and how it all impacts on a particular protagonist. He writes with such breathtaking insight and humour - albeit a bit black at times (nothing wrong with that in my book/s) and engages me in the intertwining he manages to depict of some particular and domestic life being moved by these massive forces surrounding us in these times. Some may find him a bit heavy or intellectual but at present he's the man to read as far as I'm concerned. You know that lovely feeling of discovering someone who seems on your wavelength as an author, so that you wish you never end any given story, or that their supply of books just keeps on coming?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enticingly different!, 15 Nov. 2010
By 
comm88 "comm88" (Chester, Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seven Types of Ambiguity (Paperback)
I love Perlman's style of prose and the way he has woven this book together is compelling. You just have to know how it ends. Have to! And to me that says everything about any book. He creates richly detailed and lively characters and though he occasionally floats close to the gently absurd, he manages to steer away from the rocks that wreck so many plots. You'll love the characters and feel yourself torn between what's right and just and what should be right and just! Now, how's that for an achievement in words? Buy it, love it, enjoy it!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling literary jigsaw puzzle, 26 July 2006
By 
jfp2006 (PARIS/France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Seven Types of Ambiguity (Paperback)
Simon and Anna fell in love at first sight, some ten years ago, when they found themselves in the same university tutorial-group. Two years later, Anna abruptly ended the relationship and, shortly afterwards, married Joe Geraghty, an ambitious and, as it transpires, unscrupulous businessman, the kind of husband her father, himself a self-made man, had hoped she would find. But then Simon, who has never got Anna out of his emotional system, is suddenly arrested and charged with the kidnapping of Sam, Anna and Joe's young son. All this happens in Melbourne, some time not very long before now.
But a standard-sounding plot becomes much more than what it appears to be from a basic summary. The elements of the story are introduced, in part one, by an anonymous voice which subsequently turns out to be that of Alex Klima, Simon's psychiatrist. The story is then related, in the following six parts, by Joe Geraghty, a prostitute called Angelique, a colleague of Joe's called Mitch, Simon, Anna, and finally Dr Klima's daughter Rachael. Seven different angles on one story, seven subjective versions, seven distortions, the seven types of ambiguity announced by the title. And, layer by layer, the complexity is built up. Mitch is also called Dennis, and is also a patient of Alex Klima. Angelique is also called Angela, and Angel, and offers her services, albeit in somewhat differing ways, to Simon, Joe and Mitch. And the most important mystery of the whole novel gradually comes to light: did Simon really kidnap Sam, or did Anna in fact give him permission to meet him out of school, And, if she did, is it because she has resumed her relationship with Simon ten years on? Or was the relationship never in fact broken off at all?
Juggling with what different people feel and think, what they want to feel and think, and what they would like others to feel and think, Elliot Perlman has combined the elements of a love story, a thriller and a social portrait into a dense and intricately plotted novel which is, impressively, both a page-turner and a work of art. And the whole novel is organised as an indictment of out-of-control free-market economics and globalisation. As Dr Klima states in his journal: "Fundamentalism, be it religious or of the market variety, is everywhere and everywhere there is a reaction to complexity, an attempt to ignore the contradictions and conundrums of our existence". This is a world, for Klima, in which "any blurring, any ambiguity, is viewed with hostility".
But Elliot Perlman makes it his business to put the contradictions, the conundrums and the ambiguity right back centre-stage. Comparisons have been drawn with Dickens, George Eliot, even Shakespeare. These strike this particular reader as entirely justified, given both the compelling breadth of his vision and his control over the narratological complexity of the whole.
As for the more contemporary comparisons which have been made with Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections": for me, there is no comparison. I found Franzen's novel stodgy and verbose, and felt that it failed by trying to say everything about everything. Unlike "The Corrections", "Seven Types of Ambiguity" never goes off at irritating, "have-to-throw-this-in-too-while-I'm-at-it" tangents; unlike in "The Corrections", here there is a tight plot, and tension which never lets up for a single moment. No, the comparison with the great nineteenth-century social novelists is far nearer the mark, and there can surely be no greater compliment than that.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and ambitious, but flawed and unsatisfactory, 20 Sept. 2005
By 
R. Gray "bhafc99" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seven Types of Ambiguity (Paperback)
My main problem with this novel is, as others have pointed out, the fact that the tone of voice remains almost identical - an erudite, slightly contrived quasi-confession - no matter who's narrating.
Given that we're supposed to be hearing 'first person' from individuals as diverse as an alpha-male stockbroker, a prostitute, a middle-aged psychiatrist and an 18 year old student, this doesn't really work. Would they really all think, talk and relate to the world so similar a way? Not, perhaps, that you'd want Perlman to create a vernacular for each, but more distinction might have prevented the novel being quite so monotone.
Beyond that, yes the plot is thin, but intentionally so - it's more a brief device around which Perlman can introduce and dissect various issues and topics, from literary criticism to healthcare and the vacuity of 'consultants'. Together, these vaguely coalesce around a theme of modern society's focus on competition and commerce above caring, but his approach of scattergunning this theme around makes it more something to mull over whilst reading than be left with afterwards as a 'powerful conclusion'.
Another of the author's intentions is to make you empathise with a conventionally-contemptible act (abducting a child) by making the abductor a more caring and well-meaning person than others - in this I felt he was largely successful, and delivered on the book's exploration of ambiguity.
There's real potential here, and an intelligent breadth of ideas. I'll certainly keep an eye out for Perlman's next work. Something tighter and more focused hopefully - and, please, minus the puns ('trying my patience/patients' etc)!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it!, 5 April 2013
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This review is from: Seven Types of Ambiguity (Paperback)
Elliott Perlman at its best. Moving, clever, engaging style and impossible to put down. This is my second book by this author and I will ceratinly be readng the third one. Brilliant!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars couldn't put it down, 27 Oct. 2004
By A Customer
This is a sweeping tapestry of a book, and I loved every page of it. I grant that it's lengthy, but it completely sucked me into the world of the characters (Read the first 50 pages or so, and I guarantee that you will be absolutely HOOKED). It's part thriller (a page-turner, at that), part social commentary, part love-story, part human tragedy . . . there's even some humour in there. Read it, read it, read it. I can't wait for the film adaptation! I can see Jude Law as the character called "Simon" already . . .
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Seven Types of Ambiguity
Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman (Paperback - 16 Jun. 2005)
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