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4.1 out of 5 stars332
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 9 March 2004
The length of this book put me off initially and for a couple of months it simply sat on my shelf, intimidating me, overwhelming me. Eventually I managed to pick it up and, once I had, I could not put it down.
Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone tells the story of Dolores Price from aged 4 through to middle age. I found her to be immediately likeable. She begins as a naive young child and I think she retains most of this naivety throughout, which can be seen in the letters she writes to her grandmother later on in the book. Wally Lamb throws practically every tragedy you could ever imagine at poor old Dolores, including divorce, rape, death, depression, AIDS, abortion, infertility, obesity. But I don't think this makes the book unlikely or a depressing read, as some have claimed. Granted, She's Come Undone is capable of making you cry, but surely I am not the only reader capable of seeing the humour which exists in nearly every page? How can you not laugh at instances such as when Dolores claims to be an artist and is asked "What medium do you work in?" to which she replies, with all seriousness, "Etch-a-sketch."
That She's Come Undone is actually written by a man is truely remarkable. Lamb captures perfectly the hopes and insecurities many women feel. The book is extremely well-written and Dolores Price is so real she literally jumps off each page. This book evokes sadness, laughter, inspiration (though not in an over-sentimental way). The main theme is about wanting to be loved and I found the ending (where Dolores finds happiness but to a degree and not exactly everything she craved for) a refreshing change to the stereotypical endings many books of this type have.
In sum, I would recommend this book very highly and I look forward to reading Wally Lamb's other novels.
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on 19 July 2005
After reading previous reviews I really feel like adding my opinion! The cover and other readers have said this book is hilarious but I have to disagree! This book is moving and sad!! Yes the main character's self deprecating thoughts and comments are sometimes amusing but beneath this is the underlying tragedy and misfortune that occurr in her life. Aside from that she is not a victim but a fighter.She deals with every blow as it comes and yet still carries on and gets what she can out of her life without being a superhuman, which makes the book so real!
I do have to agree with other reviewers that its hard to believe that this amazing book was written by a man.
Give this book a go and you wont be dissappointed!
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on 5 September 1998
Well like many people in Dolores Price's life I almost gave up on her and deserted her. At times this book was very painful to read and I wanted to stop reading about this poor, depressed, overweight girl but like Dolores (herself) I persevered and I was rewarded with a very enjoyable read in the end.I was really quite absorbed by Wally Lamb's wonderful descriptive style of writing. I loved his way he described people, such as one of her therapist,"He has a little potbelly and stuttered so,badly, I spent half my time waiting for him to give birth to the syllables he eventually shaped into questions about my...." Or a woman lawyer she use to go to high school with, "Now she had a hyphenated name and a puffed-out baseball glove of a face." I also enjoyed the way Mr Lamb interweaved the times and music along with Dolores life which was a reminder to all of us who grew up during that time period of some of the important historial events and songs that happened during our growing up years. I also thought Mr Lamb really captured a woman's feelings and I kept looking at his picture on the back cover--as I couldn't believe this book was written by a man. It just amazed me that a man could capture the chacacter and the soul of a woman so well on paper. I would recommend this book as I believe it protrays the lives of many women who have triumphed over impossible childhoods and destructive relationships in order to become independent,self-relient,strong women.She truely did become "undone", Dolores is "everywoman". I just wish this book would have been written by a woman... I noticed on the backcover in Mr Lamb bio that he is married.....
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on 12 June 2005
This book made me laugh out loud on the tube. It also had me whistling tunes that I haven't heard for years, and it also made me cry. I haven't engaged so strongly with a heroine for a while and Dolores Price is written with such honesty and such a clarity of expression that she is an irresistible character.
The plot of the book involves multiple deaths, rape and emotional abuse and the strength of this novel is that these horrific events are presented in the context of a very well-observed ensemble of characters; and funnily enough, the parts that made me cry weren't the deaths, or the rape, but the little hurts that the characters inflicted upon one another; the small woundings that families inflict on each other over the years.
Some of the characters in the ensemble are ogres but most of the central characters are presented as real, fallible human beings. The character Roberta deserves a novel of her own.
The imperfections in the book come near the end, with slightly clunky characterisations of new and important characters; but this is completely forgivable and is kind of a relief after the emotionally-tumultuous journey that you go through as a reader before this.
This is such a satisfying book - I strongly recommend it. Be prepared to feel some pain, but it's far from all-painful: there's a lot of light there too; and you will feel better for reading it.
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on 16 November 2007
If you haven't read "I Know This Much is True," run, don't walk to get it. Then get this book---"She's Come Undone." While I loved Lamb's "I Know" this book comes in second, and that' still better than most other's books.

The story is about one horrible human being named Dolores, but don't be turned off by that. Lamb sucks you right into her world and how he writes "women" so well is beyond me.

There are laugh out loud funny parts of this novel, and if you're reading it on the Tube, you might want to watch yourself--I know I had a lot of blokes staring at me. I also missed a couple of stops simply because I couldn't stop reading. But I digress.

About Dolores: She's not likable, but somehow Lamb gets us to read about her. And he adds in rape, emotional abuse, and a couple of deaths and you begin to get the picture of WHY Dolores is the way she is.

Lamb truly unravels the human heart in "She's Come Undone" and other than his first book, which I've just given a plug to, I would also recommend the highly controversial and entertaining "Bark of the Dogwood" which is every bit as good and involved. Not exactly the same subject but treated every bit as good if not better.
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on 7 May 2001
My boyfriend bought this for me for Christmas, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but as soon as I'd read the first few pages I was totally sucked into the main character, Dolores Price, and her fight through a life where physical appeal seems the only way to succeed. I was with her all the way in her quest to try and make a life for herself, against all odds. This book is a facinating insight into obesity and it's possible causes.
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on 10 August 1999
I just finished reading She's Come Undone. I finished it because I wanted to find out if the main character had any redeeming qualities. I couldn't believe that anyone or any character in a book could constantly make such poor choices or continue to view situations in the worst possible way. I read to the end because I had to believe that Dolores does something positive about her life and her situation. She does begin to develop a backbone and improve her lot in life. For that reason I think the ending is the best part of the book as she becomes a more realistic character. The one truly positive thing about the book is that it gives the reader a true glimpse of what it is to live with mental illness. I developed more empathy for those who suffer with depression and other mental problems.
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on 7 November 2000
After having seen Oprah rave about the book on one of her shows, I decided to try it out for myself. From the very first sentence I was mesmerised. I could not put this book down. Dolores Price is a flawed character, but the reader is drawn into her world with such force, at times I felt that I was living through her crises with her. I empathised with a lot with what she had to endure, and how she emerged at the end of the story to be a confident woman is a lesson to us all. The Board of Education should distribute this book as required reading material to all teenagers. Although I am nearly approaching 30, had I read this book 15 years ago, I somehow feel I would have been better equipped to deal with things more efficiently!!!
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on 7 January 1999
Everything about this novel is flabby including the heroine. First, nothing impels the plot to move forward; one tragic or abusive episode just follows another rather endlessly without the main character's changing very much or learning much until the end. The book seems to follow the pattern of much fiction aimed at women who have low self esteem but at the end dump their husbands and take college classes. The main character is flabby both literally and figuratively and is rendered very superficially by the author. The biggest disappointment however is the flabby humor. Much of it consists of just nostalgic references to television shows or items of pop culture; rarely is the humor satiric, edgy, ironic, or absurd. It tiptoes along, trying to be odd or Salingeresque but never rises to the surreal level of even a John Irving. I think that's because the author's attitudes are basically sentimental. And finally the worst fault is the meaningless of the book as a whole; it's all so obvious. What is new about overweight people eating to assuage pain? I think people like the book because it confirms certain cultural myths that we believe in without questioning. Many reviewers complain the book is depressing, but what I find depressing is the number of people who claim that this is the best book they have ever read. Ideally, books should challenge us to rethink our assumptions instead of just accepting what our culture dishes out. Readers such as Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Laurie Moore, Jane Smiley, Toni Morrison, A. S. Byatt, to name a few, do that.
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on 17 April 2002
I don't often find myself crying when I read books (and this is only the second time I have written an Amazon review) - but I have just finished this brilliant book and found that I had to get online immediately to write about how much I enjoyed it. I found myself crying regularly throughout, sometimes not just because of a poignant moment but because Wally Lamb seems to have such an amazing emotional insight into women's emotions and frailties. I had not expected to be so drawn in to the world of Dolores but I have found myself wishing the hours away till I could settle down in the evening again with the book. I can't see how this book could be anything other than inspiring and emotionally potent to women readers - who hasn't felt like an outcast at times, or lonely, or caught up in a chain of events that fate has set you on. Readers who have complained that too much happens or that any coincidences stretch their credibility are missing the point - we are talking about a span of nearly four decades where we follow Dolores's life. Nothing Lamb has written is impossible. I bought into Dolores's emotional journey and pain and yearnings and cynicism and self-defence mechanisms one hundred percent. This has become one of the best novels I have ever read (my eyes are still puffy with crying!) and as an aspiring writer I am totally envious of Lamb's talent (though not to the degree that one other reviewer spotted - the fact that Lisa Jewell apparently plagiarised this story in one of her books is appalling!)
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