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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Difficult Second Novel ...
I started reading The International Gooseberry (TIG for short) as a last resort. After ploughing through a rather trashy novel by John Grisham, I was running out of the house and had grabbed the nearest novel from my book shelf. I had bought TIG for a measly 1 at a recent book sale because I liked the cover and the price. I was in a rush at it was the first book to hand,...
Published on 12 Nov 2002 by tip_top

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappionting
I found this book tremendously disappointing, not least because it had started so well, with some great witty observations and Hatch's writing style had me hooked from the word go. However as the tale unfolded both the story itself and the initial sparkling prose seemed to lose their way as the central character turned more moribund. The story is basically a rites of...
Published on 29 Oct 2004 by dranahan3


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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Difficult Second Novel ..., 12 Nov 2002
This review is from: The International Gooseberry (Paperback)
I started reading The International Gooseberry (TIG for short) as a last resort. After ploughing through a rather trashy novel by John Grisham, I was running out of the house and had grabbed the nearest novel from my book shelf. I had bought TIG for a measly 1 at a recent book sale because I liked the cover and the price. I was in a rush at it was the first book to hand, so it was with great intrigue I started the first Chapter on my daily Pinner to London Bridge tube journey.
First impressions were very good. A quick flick through the book (you know what I mean - gauge the number of pages, the font size, etc.) and I realised the book was written in diary format. I hadn't read a diarised novel since my spate of Adrian Mole novels all those years ago.
TIG tells the story of Kit Farley, a late twenty something, who has managed to go travelling, despite his better intentions, with his best friend Carlos and Carlos's girlfriend Dominique. Kit has decided to keep a diary of his adventure across the US of A through to their interim destination of Australia. The book itself is in fact two story lines told through journal and diary entries and the occasional email transcript (ever popular these days). We soon learn that Kit is the eponymous gooseberry named in the title of the book, as he feels trapped on his travels between the two love birds. As Kit travels he starts to narrate the story of why he has ended up travelling in America. This takes the form of a sequence of journal entries that expand upon Kit's life and introduce his brother, Danny, who may well be an International gooseberry himself. As the threesome travel towards Los Angeles past emotions and situations influence the present. Kit whose childlike emotions never appreciates the trouble he causes, but is only to willing to bemoan anybody who does the same to him.
You may be mistaken into thinking that TIG is yet another traveller's tale along the lines of a 'Bill Bryson with a couple of friends in tow' novel, but that would be missing the point. What follows is the very funny and very sad story of Kit, Danny and Carlos's lives. Thrown in for good measure are ex-girlfriends, temptations and a dose of family loyalty / problems.
Now this is where I must interject with a bit of commentary of my own! I have a number of pet hates when it comes to books but by far the greatest is when a book proclaims to make you laugh out loud. Greatest sinner in my opinion is the Cark Hiassen novels which proclaim such a thing and though good I have yet to raise more than a smirk on my tube journey to and from work everyday. TIG makes no such claims, but a lady called Lisa Jewell did mention a 'wicked sense of humour'. It turns out that Lisa is a master (or should that be mistress) of understatement. TIG is funny, in fact make that very funny. It managed to get me to snigger aloud on the tube which is no mean feat (and one not to be taken lightly). The early parts of the book involving the younger days of Kit and Danny is highly entertaining and a lot of what Hatch writes is akin to my own childhood.
The book is excellent throughout but not without its faults due in no small part to the writers lack of experience. Ben Hatch does a wonderful job of blending the funny with the sad, the insightful with the familiar, but he struggles with story flow. Throughout the book you, as a reader, are asked to change between the past (journal entries) and the present (diary entries). The narrative flow between the two sections is often hard to keep fresh, but Hatch relies on the old 1950s suspense cliff hanger approach to the transition that grates after the fifth or so time. Examples are not limited to '... but then the end came unexpectedly', as he switches the plot line again. It becomes a little annoying after awhile, but the two timelines catch up with one another 2/3rds into the book and voila, no more problems.
As you might have guessed, I really enjoyed TIG. I liked the pace, the humour and the observation of a situation I could possible cope with no better than Kit. Ben Hatch never resorts to making Kit anything other than a human being and you appreciate that his lead character is a bit of a prat throughout the book.
There is no better way of rating a book than to say I have already purchased Ben Hatch's other book, 'The Lawnmower Celebrity' in anticipation of repeat performance (though he wrote it before TIG!).
4 Stars out of 5
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very funny., 13 Aug 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The International Gooseberry (Paperback)
This is a superb book, funny throughout. It's also got a memorable story too, rare in comedy novels I find. If you like Dave Eggers without the pomp and John O'Farrell without the trying-to-hard undertone this is a book I recommend. Great dialogue, a great first person narration that keeps you gripped and it's also got a travelling theme I loved having always loathed backpackers with their friendship bracelets. I laughed out loud several times and I rarely do this because it makes me feel foolish and a sap. Overall splendid.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More tragi-comic excellence from Mr Hatch, 5 Nov 2001
This review is from: The International Gooseberry (Paperback)
If you loved the Lawnmower Celebrity- like most people- you'll love this. Alternatively extremely funny and heartbreakingly sad, there aren't many people around writing as powerfully as this. Hugely enjoyable for men and women alike, recommended for anyone who's ever gone away to find themselves and been slightly disappointed...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, 11 Feb 2005
This review is from: The International Gooseberry (Paperback)
A very easy, but intelligent read. Funny as well. It's about travelling round the world yet also about family dynamics and being the odd one out. I loved the relationship between the two brothers. It's worth it for that alone. Did put me off backpacking though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet comedy with hilarious backpacker putdowns, 19 July 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The International Gooseberry (Paperback)
Just the best book to have under your arm when you walk into that Sydney backpackers thinking you know it all. First rate characters that are realistic and funny without being hyperboles, spot on dialogue and a great story too. Past several hours reading this one on a boat in the Whitsundays howling like a sick monkey.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly entertaining!, 16 July 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The International Gooseberry (Paperback)
a great read, you can't but help being drawn into the characters lives and the reality is that anyone of them could be one of your mates.
Oh yeah, the books also bloody funny and only lacks a central character thats cool, pulls all the girls, is a bit of a poseur and is highly talented & succesful....only joking, that's me!
Dunno what why that bloke from London didn't like it- he must be an accountant.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marvellous stuff, a cracking read, 13 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The International Gooseberry (Paperback)
Funny. Funny. Funny. A wonderful book full of so much that made me laugh and a lot that made me think too. Hatch has a rare ability to write great novels that are also hilarious. Lawnmower Celebrity was the funniest book I read last year and International Gooseberry gets my vote for this year. Anybody who wants a laugh pick either one up and just start reading. I promise you won't be wasting your time.
One thing I have noticed: The main charcacter in Hatch's books is always a complete dude.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly funny, 6 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The International Gooseberry (Paperback)
I read Ben Hatch's first book the Lawnmower Celebrity and didn't think it could be matched for comic value. Well I was wrong. International Gooseberry is fantastic and even better. It hits all the right buttons. Thoroughly enjoyable, brilliantly funny and also in places terribly sad. I understand what the first reviewer said. It's hard to put you finger on just what it is abiut Hatch's books that is so good. Having thought about it a lot, I think it's the honesty. Hatch's seem so real. First class.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Life, 16 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The International Gooseberry (Paperback)
I wouldn't normally write a review for a book no matter how much I liked it, but every review I've read for this book (and The Lawnmower Celebrity) describe it as being by turns hilarious and heartbreaking - and I agree - but no-one seems to know why. I think it's because Hatch does something that few modern authors (in fact few authors - full stop) do...and that is capture real life in a book. That doesn't mean writing every detail or creating extremely deep characters, it means noticing faults and foibles, recognising peoples emotions and fears. So, like life, Hatch's books are by turns funny and tragic...but I think a better way of putting it is that they are honest.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A funny, sad and truthful story of the road, 4 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The International Gooseberry (Paperback)
After reading Jack Kerouac's classic On The Road, Kit Farley decides to grab a piece of the American dream by driving across the United States.
But when he takes to the open highway with his 'best mate' Carlos and his neurotic girlfriend Dominique, that dream rapidly becomes a nightmare.
With his friendship dissolving, his girlfriend bombarding him with marriage hints via e-mail and a tragic personal history to come to terms with, it soon becomes apparent that Kit is not so much on the road as on the run.
This second novel by Ben Hatch is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking, with moments of insight which make the reader wince with recognition. It is a great read for anyone who has ever travelled - and a must-read for anyone with any ambitions to.
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The International Gooseberry
The International Gooseberry by Ben Hatch (Paperback - 1 Nov 2001)
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