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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Proper Names, Amelie Nothomb
This little, eccentric book is simply wonderful. The story of precocious orphan Plectrude, blessed with a gift for dance and a very curious imagination, it's a brilliant story of childhood, and Nothomb clearly has a special talent for inveigling herself into the childhood psyche. The book carries an absolutely unique sense of what it feels like to be a child, the...
Published on 2 Jun. 2005 by RachelWalker

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars V.short, unusual
The book is very very short. It could be read in a few hours
The first half of the book - the introduction and development of the main character is very refreshing, it is different. I can understand some people would love it or hate.
However this book would not be suited to anyone wanting to read about a character ednos experience in detail. The characters lack...
Published on 31 Oct. 2009 by E. Kernan


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars V.short, unusual, 31 Oct. 2009
By 
E. Kernan "Silk" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Book of Proper Names (Paperback)
The book is very very short. It could be read in a few hours
The first half of the book - the introduction and development of the main character is very refreshing, it is different. I can understand some people would love it or hate.
However this book would not be suited to anyone wanting to read about a character ednos experience in detail. The characters lack of appetite is referred to her childhood in the odd sentence- her attitude to eating is detailed in a few pages regarding her mental change in the ballet school. Aside from the mention of her family's attitude to her recovery that is it.
The ending is quick.

I would give the book a higher rating for its uniqueness- but at that price it really is to short a read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Proper Names, Amelie Nothomb, 2 Jun. 2005
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Book of Proper Names (Paperback)
This little, eccentric book is simply wonderful. The story of precocious orphan Plectrude, blessed with a gift for dance and a very curious imagination, it's a brilliant story of childhood, and Nothomb clearly has a special talent for inveigling herself into the childhood psyche. The book carries an absolutely unique sense of what it feels like to be a child, the selfishness of childhood, the sense that a childhood might feel like forever. While it has serious undertones - the pressures put on children by their parents; the power of love or the perception of it; the perspective-skewing powers of ambition and desire - it's also a sly, funny, sharp little book. Very funny indeed.
Nothomb's writing is fluid, the flow of plot is swift and incredibly engaging, and her small insights are remarkably perceptive. Heavy on dialogue - and very short anyway - it's a really quick read you can probably finish off in a sitting. It may be short, but it's hugely satisfying (the eccentric ending is very odd but very good), and a tremendously entertaining book. Plectrude is a marvellous little character, and is certainly the novella's great triumph among many.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Proper Names, Amelie Nothomb, 6 Jun. 2005
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This little, eccentric book is simply wonderful. The story of precocious orphan Plectrude, blessed with a gift for dance and a very curious imagination, it's a brilliant story of childhood, and Nothomb clearly has a special talent for inveigling herself into the childhood psyche. The book carries an absolutely unique sense of what it feels like to be a child, the selfishness of childhood, the sense that a childhood might feel like forever. While it has serious undertones - the pressures put on children by their parents; the power of love or the perception of it; the perspective-skewing powers of ambition and desire - it's also a sly, funny, sharp little book. Very funny indeed.
Nothomb's writing is fluid, the flow of plot is swift and incredibly engaging, and her small insights are remarkably perceptive. Heavy on dialogue - and very short anyway - it's a really quick read you can probably finish off in a sitting. It may be short, but it's hugely satisfying (the eccentric ending is very odd but very good), and a tremendously entertaining book. Plectrude is a marvellous little character, and is certainly the novella's great triumph among many.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like mother like daughter?, 28 Feb. 2009
By 
Annabel Gaskell "gaskella2" (Nr Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Book of Proper Names (Paperback)
A rather disturbing and definitely absurdist sort of Ugly Duckling story.
It features Plectrude, an orphan born of a mother who murdered her father when he suggested a silly name for their baby. Her mother then committed suicide, leaving Plectrude to be brought up by her sister, who always wanted to be a ballerina. Plectrude has a difficult time at school, but then gets accepted by the ballet school, and learns to be anorexic before finally finding love and becoming a swan.
I hope that real ballet school is not al all like that in this book, where the girls are ruled by a rod of iron that make them willingly starve themselves and drive their emaciated bodies to the absolute limits of their endurance. The vicarious pleasure that Plectrude's aunt took in her charge's body was troubling.
Both serious and silly, this short little novel has plenty to say for itself, and I enjoyed it - racing through to see how Plectrude would fare in life, especially once she finds out about her mother.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 14 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: The Book of Proper Names (Paperback)
There is something great about this little book. You just have to read it to understand its Frenchness.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Proper Names, Amelie Nothomb, 6 Jun. 2005
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Book of Proper Names (Paperback)
This little, eccentric book is simply wonderful. The story of precocious orphan Plectrude, blessed with a gift for dance and a very curious imagination, it's a brilliant story of childhood, and Nothomb clearly has a special talent for inveigling herself into the childhood psyche. The book carries an absolutely unique sense of what it feels like to be a child, the selfishness of childhood, the sense that a childhood might feel like forever. While it has serious undertones - the pressures put on children by their parents; the power of love or the perception of it; the perspective-skewing powers of ambition and desire - it's also a sly, funny, sharp little book. Very funny indeed.
Nothomb's writing is fluid, the flow of plot is swift and incredibly engaging, and her small insights are remarkably perceptive. Heavy on dialogue - and very short anyway - it's a really quick read you can probably finish off in a sitting. It may be short, but it's hugely satisfying (the eccentric ending is very odd but very good), and a tremendously entertaining book. Plectrude is a marvellous little character, and is certainly the novella's great triumph among many.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intreguing in it's depths, 13 July 2007
By 
Mlle J. Taylor "judigbr9430" (Paris, France) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Book of Proper Names (Paperback)
Having read the book in French, I could not put it down and was highly disgusted when I reached the end.

The book, as many of Nothomb's others, is incredibly dark and sometime disturbing. I became a fan of Nothomb's reading her book Cosmetique de l'Ennemi (The Cosmetics of the Enemy) which I also could not put down. You start reading and forget everything else going on around you.

Give it a try and you'll be shocked and disturbed and fascinated by what you read.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars thoroughly annoying and pretentious, 10 Feb. 2008
This review is from: The Book of Proper Names (Paperback)
A story of ballerina's and anorexia, The Book of Proper Names by Amelie Nothomb is quite probably the most annoying book ive read in some time. the story is eccentric and unrealistic almost all the way through, the emotional, precocious orphan, Plectrude is a difficult main character because you cant understand her at any level - sometimes this can be a great thing, characters doing the unexpected, but in this book it was dull, became monotonous and felt silly - i couldnt believe thefacts behind any decisions made.
another annoying thing is the last 2 pages where - not a spoiler - the author gets shot. this is soo absurd it detracts from the book enormously - nothomb obviously didnt know how to finish.

Another thing that annoyed me was in the writing itself. Nothomb has this truely fiendish habit of stating these strange 'platitudes of 'fact'' (and platitudes of child psychology- generalised to all children) - based on nothing but observation or opinion. They aren't facts. Children invariably do this or babies do this, ask any girl and she will say this. They were pointless and grating and seriously undermined some (albeit few) quality parts of the story and i felt like slapping her each time they came up.
une example 'That incidentally is a habit that members of the male sex preserve throughout the whole of their lives: they make a point of slandering the very things that haunt their masturbatory obsessions' p65.
This is an extreme generalisation - she just sounds absurd - its a stupid generalisation presented as fact - not all males 'do' this - she ends up sounding slighted, jealous and sexist.

anyways - good points were few and far between - some nice passages, the handling of the descent into anorexia and the choosing of names.
Overall, a thoroughly annoying and pretentious book, fobbed off as clever witty and precocious, this novel has put me of amelie nothomb for life and i warn all about the absurdities of plot, prose and character within.
4/10
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The Book of Proper Names
The Book of Proper Names by Amélie Nothomb (Paperback - 5 May 2005)
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