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18 Reviews
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potty about Poppy
I read this book for a book circle of which I'm a member. I had never heard of Laurie Graham or this book, so I came to it with an open mind. What I found was a modern heroine - Poppy Minkel - who takes us through the 20th Century in her own fashion. A modern woman born into a Victorian world, she manages to escape the restrictions of her mother Dora and Aunt Fish,...
Published on 14 Aug. 2002 by Cath Messum

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars What was the point?
This started out as a fluff piece, which was just what I needed at the time. The era was pre WWI, a time I have always been fascinated by, the place NYC, another fascination of mine. So what could go wrong?

This book spans five decades and follows the characters of one family. This would be fine if the main character was at all interesting or interested. She...
Published on 26 May 2008 by ash


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potty about Poppy, 14 Aug. 2002
By 
Cath Messum (Middlesex, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Unfortunates (Paperback)
I read this book for a book circle of which I'm a member. I had never heard of Laurie Graham or this book, so I came to it with an open mind. What I found was a modern heroine - Poppy Minkel - who takes us through the 20th Century in her own fashion. A modern woman born into a Victorian world, she manages to escape the restrictions of her mother Dora and Aunt Fish, thanks mainly to the First World War, and never looks back. Although not necessarily the greatest of mothers herself, Poppy lives a rich and varied life but is always reduced to the status of a child by her family, even when she is middle-aged.
I would recommend this book to anyone and I'm sure it is one of the few books that I won't tire of re-reading.
And as for Melton Mowbray - I've lived there and it can be like that even in the 21st Century!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unfortunates, 16 Jun. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Unfortunates (Paperback)
I picked this up as a last minute holiday book never having read any of Laurie Graham's previous novels, what a great choice! I laughed out loud at some of Poppy's antics and insights and finished the book in two days. It is one of the few books I've read that I agree with all the good reviews on the back page - highly recommeded.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original, funny - best book I've read for ages., 14 Dec. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Unfortunates (Paperback)
Having read 'Perfect Meringues' by Laurie Graham, and not being too impressed (there seems to be no point to the novel), I was dubious about this one. What a pleasant surprise! I adored it. Poppy Minkel is an outrageous character with an incredibly dry wit which had me regularly laughing out loud. I wanted it to go on forever. I'll have to read 'Future Homemakers of America' now - can't wait to get my hands on it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down once it got started, 20 Jun. 2010
By 
Emile Zola reader "Gervaise" (Hants, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Unfortunates (Paperback)
Throughout the first chapter I kept thinking this was going to turn out to be a pointless bit of chick-lit and I couldn't see where it was going. I'm at the age where I don't usually stick with books if they don't grab me fairly quickly but the witty, sly humour kept me at it and I can't praise this book enough - I'm buying a copy for my mother. By the second chapter the narrative really took off, and I was well and truly hooked.

The story centres around Poppy, a self-centred, energetic heiress who is lacking in finer sensitivities to others and whose hedonistic lifestyle results in her emotional neglect of those close to her. The book is full of characters in Poppy's life - characterised so well that you don't have difficulty remembering who's who - and spans a whole lifetime and two world wars (which are not really dwelt upon much).

This is a hard book to categorise but it is not chick lit so don't be put off by the synopsis. This is a really good book, it has humour, sadness and an insight into personalities like Poppy's and I found it hard to put down - every chapter left me hungry for 'what happens next?'. I loved it! By the way, I read this after reading the author's other book 'Mr Starlight' which I picked up at a library table sale and I couldn't put that down either. It's a rare writer who manages to elicit sympathy for a character that you have loathed for most of the book. Brilliant stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 20 Feb. 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Unfortunates (Paperback)
I just finished reading this and thought it was wonderful. Laurie Graham is an author I want to read more of. I have also read future homemakers of America which was great as well. I still can't decide if I love or loathe Poppy Minkel..........
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4.0 out of 5 stars How the other half lived!, 7 May 2008
By 
DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Unfortunates (Paperback)
This was an easy read, if a bit fickle. It left me somewhat dazed at how the wealthy waltzed around, even during the two World Wars, throwing their money around and living like kings.
Poppy Mankel is a likable enough character, but her attitude to 'the unfortunates' would be very politically incorrect in this day and age.
Her life, however, is not all roses. She has to suffer loss and grief too, and it is her reaction to this and the reactions of her family, that are the strengths of this book.

We meet her as a young teenager, with uncontrollable hair and protruding ears. The main concern for her future is that she be matched up with a suitable husband and her education is purely directed to this end.
Poppy has her own ideas, however. She is strong willed with a flair for design, at a time when the world is ready for new ideas. With endless money to back her up, the possibilities are endless, it's just that the idea of working every day, 9 to 5 seems so outrageous!
Meet Poppy Mankel.....

While I did not enjoy it as much as other readers, this is an interesting, readable novel, with several laughs. Would read another by this author.
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2.0 out of 5 stars What was the point?, 26 May 2008
By 
This review is from: The Unfortunates (Paperback)
This started out as a fluff piece, which was just what I needed at the time. The era was pre WWI, a time I have always been fascinated by, the place NYC, another fascination of mine. So what could go wrong?

This book spans five decades and follows the characters of one family. This would be fine if the main character was at all interesting or interested. She starts out to be a spunky fighter. But She's spoiled, selfish and just darn right cruel at times. I kept hoping to see some spark, some sense of humanity, some sense of growth but I really didn't. As she aged, I still thought of her as a 16 year old.

I have to admit the writing kept me in the book, and kept me turning the pages for the first 2/3 of the book. The part that should have ended the book didn't; she kept going on for a few more decades.. People die, more people are born, life goes on yada yada. Not much to really care for, and I felt I really wasted my time. What was the point of this?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poppy is such a memorable character!, 26 Mar. 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Unfortunates (Paperback)
It was almost like a bereavement finishing this book. The characters were so quirky and yet lovable that I didn't want the book to end. I look forward to reading more of Laurie Graham's work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Addictive, 17 May 2006
This review is from: The Unfortunates (Paperback)
This is a wonderfully addictive novel and I struggled to put it down. Essentially focussing on Poppy as her life and the twentieth century unfolds, Graham creates a world bursting with three dimensional characters who brim with life, whether they be on stage for one chapter or twenty. The novel's other strength is undoubtedly the comedy with which Poppy is portayed - whilst undoubtedly a deeply selfish and self centred character, the author uses a gentle humour that somehow makes her likeable despite her faults. This is a very good novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellously inventive, 12 Jun. 2008
This review is from: The Unfortunates (Paperback)
Loved this novel. There's a wonderful piece of observation, a tiny quirk of someone's character, a detail of a scene, a mannerism or idiosyncrasy in every line, all written with the most fantastic economy. Staggering amount of detail, insightful, funny and moving. How does Laurie Graham know so much about the way Jews (or part-Jews) think and behave, especially American ones?
I agree with the view that it is a marvel.
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The Unfortunates
The Unfortunates by Laurie Graham (Paperback - 1 July 2003)
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