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83 Reviews
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully evocative tale
Tell friends and family you have gone away, take the phone off the hook and be prepared to be completely immersed in the lives of Jake and Mary. I've just lost the last two days to this wonderful novel and I've loved every second of it.
Growing up on the south coast in the 1980s myself, this is one of the few books I've read that really captures the little details...
Published on 5 Sep 2009 by Andy Dobson

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
I enjoyed this book and was very interested in discovering what happened to the characters. My Bookclub felt that the flash backs did become a little confusing as the time periods became closer together, but we enjoyed the perspectives from the two characters. It is a moving story about depression, mental illness, addiction and family life.
Published 18 months ago by Helen Lewis Lloyd


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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully evocative tale, 5 Sep 2009
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This review is from: Glasshopper (Myriad Editions) (Paperback)
Tell friends and family you have gone away, take the phone off the hook and be prepared to be completely immersed in the lives of Jake and Mary. I've just lost the last two days to this wonderful novel and I've loved every second of it.
Growing up on the south coast in the 1980s myself, this is one of the few books I've read that really captures the little details that make the area and the era so magical. This novel creates a real sense of place and time with settings almost as characterful as the two narrators themselves.
Writing with two voices is difficult to pull off, but the two lives are beautifully balanced. Mary, a life detached through alcohol, and her son Jake, struggling with the preoccupations of adolescence and a family that is frayed around the edges. Jake, in particular, really hit the spot with me, from his love of cold November days and Greek mythology, his thoughts on Joey Deacon and Thundercats, through to some moments of real heartbreak. All of this is beautifully conveyed by the author.
As you can probably tell, I adored this first novel and wait with eager anticipation for Ashdown's next.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow....what an amazing journey!, 17 Sep 2009
By 
Michelle Spirit "Michelle Spirit" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glasshopper (Myriad Editions) (Paperback)
I heard the author of this book on our BBC radio station being interviewed on a show on which they were reviewing her book. It received their highest recommendation - higher than any other book on their show, so I recommended it for our book club as we're always looking for inspiration! Well what can I say that hasn't already been said. This is truely a stunning book. I read it in just three days. The story is so tragically normal it sometimes hurts to read it. The tiny details, metaphors and descriptions created an incredibly vivid picture of the characters and their entrapment in what many of us would consider a relatively normal life. I can't wait to talk to about it at our next book club meeting! More please!!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars stunning debut, 15 Sep 2009
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J. Wilson (Horsham, West Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glasshopper (Myriad Editions) (Paperback)
This book is ALIVE. I read it in two days. When I finished Glasshopper, I wanted to climb into Jake's world, put an arm around his shoulders and make sure he was going to be alright. Jake is such an endearing character. His mother, Mary, is an alcoholic, and it would be easy to hate her for the way she neglects Jake and his brothers. But the sections written from Mary's point of view give an insight into her mood swings and her descent into alcoholism. Really, this book has everything: teenage angst, sex, sibling rivalry, the intricacies of the English class system. And humour, too. I would definitely recommend...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Families their secrets, lies and love, 15 April 2012
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C. Bannister (Jersey, CI) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glasshopper (Kindle Edition)
This book has been billed as a coming of age story, it is, but it is also so much more. The story is split between the 1980's where Jake, a 13 year old boy is coming to terms with his father and eldest brother leaving home along with caring for his younger brother due to his mother's absence through alcoholism. His mother, Mary, story alternates with Jake's. Mary starts writing as a teenage girl in the 1950's. The story explores the nature of family bonds, some good,some bad.

I would have given this 5 stars but I was disappointed by the ending, however both strands of the story are incredibly powerful, well written with the time periods being well maintained. I loved Jake's relationship with his employer particularly as Isabel Ashdown has really developed the minor as well as the major characters. It would have been easy to caricature Mary as a hopeless drunk but through her story as well as Jake's the reader gets to see that it isn't as simple as that.

An excellent debut novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative of time and place, 24 Sep 2012
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DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glasshopper (Kindle Edition)
This was an excellent read, not least because I could relate to the time and place. I was born at around the same time as Mary and went to school in Portsmouth. I remember the street parties celebrating the Queen's Jubilee in 1977 and they are still a strong memory of my university days.

Jake's story is narrated, along with his mother, Mary, on two time frames, both in first person. As we become familiar with Jake's family life, we see, not only the effects of his mother's alcoholism on the family dynamic, but also, how she came to be that way. Jake's older brother has already moved out and is now just a lingering presence. His Dad has also admitted defeat and lives apart, although he loves his family and does his best to remain a part of it. Jake's younger brother, Andy, winds Jake up and plays the part of annoying little brother, although the bond between them is tangible.

Then, during one of her more lucid periods, Mary gets back in touch with her estranged older sisiter, Rachel. Suddenly, Jake and Andy discover that they have cousins, an instant extended family, living on the Isle of Wight. They travel to meet them and love the bustle of the big house full of activity.
Other characters form a vital part of the whole; Mr Horrocks, who owns the local shop, gives Jake a job as a paper boy and offers support when times are tough. Malcom, the son of Jake's Dad's drinking partner, Stu, also finds himself outside the local pub on regular occasions and the two boys become friends. And Sandy, who is a family friend and looks out for the boys when things get really bad.
I felt for Jake when his mother forgot to go to parents' meetings at school, and when he covered up for her. He's a great character, with his quirky love of Greek mythology.

The prologue gave a hint of future events, but I had forgotten about it until the end (one of the disadvantages of reading on a Kindle). Things come to a head when Jake's family goes on holiday to France with Rachel's family and long buried secrets start to cause rifts.

A beautifully written novel that I may, at some stage, read again. Meanwhile there are 2 other books by the author for me to look forward to.
Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great debut novel!, 18 Mar 2011
This review is from: Glasshopper (Myriad Editions) (Paperback)
"Glasshopper" is a book you won't be able to put down easily once you have started it. The engrossing story of teenager Jake, who aside from the usual struggles of growing up, also has to cope with an alcoholic mother and a broken home. Via a separate timeline, we follow the mother's descent into drinking. Beautifully observed and written, and left me with a few unresolved questions in the end. I will be eager to read more from Isabel Ashdown.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story with a shock that you really dont see coming!, 12 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Glasshopper (Kindle Edition)
Nice easy read with a shocker that i really didnt see coming. Relaxing- not a gripping storyline but a believable one. I dont generally like stories that switch from one persons point of view to another but this story tells both sides of mother and son and it was'nt confusing, it flowed nicely so not too much concentration needed! Not something i would read again or tell my friends to rush out and buy but it is still worth a read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will take over your life for a day or two., 2 May 2012
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This review is from: Glasshopper (Kindle Edition)
Capturing a 13 year old on paper is a lot harder than it sounds - I would image.
We are immediately immersed in 13 year old Jake's 1980's world, and that of his mother Mary from 1950 to 1980's.

At times you want to shake Mary and hug Jake and at times the other way round. They are both well observed engaging characters, with hardships and fragility. The father is a warm kind man who has his sons and their mother's best interest at heart . . . but should he do more?

Jake's attempts to cope with adults problems with a 13 year old's brain are engaging and heart breaking. But there is also humour and lighter moments.

This is book you will read on the bus, under your desk at work, in the loo and instead of watching your favorite TV programme. Be prepared for it to take over your life for a day or two.

If I had any criticism it would be some events in the final chapters seems to be a bit surreal.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyable read, 7 Feb 2011
By 
Simon Whaley (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glasshopper (Myriad Editions) (Paperback)
This novel tells the tale of one family; from Jake's perspective, and his mother, Mary's, point of view. Alternating chapters help to explain the character's emotions and journey, until both storylines meet at the end in a climatic resolution. A great story, with lots of lovely detail. I could certainly identify with Jake's plan of saving up for his own midi system - clearly it's what all young teenage boys were doing in the early 1980s! I have no hesitation recommending this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lovely, prosaic and haunting, 9 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Glasshopper (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book, buts its hard to articulate why, the setting feeels commonplace, and yet... The protaginist Jake is just so loveable, and as the story unfurls we learn of his normal life, his sad mother, and how it all implodes. This tale stayed with me for days and days after reading, beautifully written
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Glasshopper (Myriad Editions)
Glasshopper (Myriad Editions) by Isabel Ashdown (Paperback - 17 Sep 2009)
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