Customer Reviews


48 Reviews
5 star:
 (9)
4 star:
 (23)
3 star:
 (13)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
In a time when 'based on a true story' is regarded as a mark of quality rather than a lack of imagination on the part of the writer, readers seem to feel cheated and react with disbelief when they are told by an author 'I made it all up'. Faulks discusses a variety of books written by great British authors who were experts in making it all up following the themes of...
Published on 25 Feb 2011 by M. O. HAYNES

versus
39 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One to dip into?
Author Sebastian Faulks gets to the heart of the British novel through its characters exploring the heroes, lovers, snobs and villains in classics such as Robinson Crusoe, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Lord Of The Flies and The End Of The Affair.

Faulks on Fiction is effectively the book of the TV show of the book. Even more confusingly, it's a book of...
Published on 1 Feb 2011 by Ripple


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, 25 Feb 2011
By 
M. O. HAYNES "couch magpie" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In a time when 'based on a true story' is regarded as a mark of quality rather than a lack of imagination on the part of the writer, readers seem to feel cheated and react with disbelief when they are told by an author 'I made it all up'. Faulks discusses a variety of books written by great British authors who were experts in making it all up following the themes of heroes, love, snobs, and villains and rather than describing what influenced each author to create the characters and who they might be based on, he discusses rather the archetypes that seem to recur throughout centuries of literature and the historical development of the novel and how they reflected/influenced contemporary society.

Although Faulks is in himself an well-read and well-educated author his writing in this book avoids being too high-brow or on the flip-side patronising to less well-read readers such as myself. There is wit and humour in his writing and this helps to make this book less 'dry' than other near-academic texts. However in saying that it does seem at times that his 'arguments' are secondary to his describing key points of the characters' stories and there is no great conclusion at the end of the treatise.

This book I think works best as somewhat of a 'cheats guide' to some of the finest books written. I have to admit to only having read about 20% of those books discussed, but I felt at the end that I knew a lot more about the ones I had not read and was encouraged to buy some classics. It should definately appeal to any six-formers or freshers studying English literature and generally anyone who has an interest in the historical context and development of this form of story-telling.

I enjoyed listening to the reading by actor James Wilby, and his take on what certain characters would sound like was entertaining (although obviously struggling at times e.g. Tess of the D'urbervilles did make me laugh out loud). Other characters/novels/authors discussed include: Sherlock Holmes, Jeeves & Wooster, Fagin, Lady Chatterly, James Bond (with an interesting insight into his writing process for 'Devil May Care'), Robinson Crusoe, 1984, Emma, Wuthering Heights, Pride and prejudice, Notes on a Scandal, William Golding, Charles Dickens, Mervyn Peak, Monica Ali, and lots more besides.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at characters in fiction, 27 Mar 2011
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Faulks takes an affectionate look at a variety of characters in English novels from Robinson Crusoe at the beginning of the eighteenth century to modern fiction. This is a fascinating book and is well read by James Wilby. I really enjoyed hearing about books such as Richardson's Clarissa - which I had never considered reading because of its sheer length - over one million words. The author makes it seem interesting and I may even try reading it now.

There are plenty of more well known characters examined in this book such as Mr Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice; Tess from Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles; Fagin from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. Then there are characters from Monica Ali's modern classic Brick Lane and from Zoe Heller's Notes on a Scandal. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes features as does P G Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster.

I found this audio book very interesting listening and it gave me some ideas to expand my own reading horizons. It is always interesting hearing other people's opinions of your own favourite fictional characters.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


39 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One to dip into?, 1 Feb 2011
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Faulks on Fiction (Hardcover)
Author Sebastian Faulks gets to the heart of the British novel through its characters exploring the heroes, lovers, snobs and villains in classics such as Robinson Crusoe, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Lord Of The Flies and The End Of The Affair.

Faulks on Fiction is effectively the book of the TV show of the book. Even more confusingly, it's a book of reviews of works of British fiction so this is really a review of a book of reviews. The TV show has, at the time of writing, yet to air, but the concept is to talk, not so much about the books themselves, but of the characters within them, separated into four distinct character types; heros, lovers, snobs and villains. Even ignoring the fact that characters often don't fit wholly into these descriptions and that the concept might prove a use for those strange Venn diagrams you learnt about at school and have never found a use for, and the inevitable quibbles about which books and characters could also have been included that is the problem with lists, the result is strangely uneven. I was left wondering if this might indeed work better as a TV series, but as a stand alone book, it is more one to be dipped into than read cover to cover.

In terms of coverage, it is impressively broad, featuring Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Thackeray, Jane Austen (twice), Emily Bronte, Hardy and Dickens right up to Martin Amis, Zoe Heller and Monica Ali.

Faulks is one of my very favourite writers and his knowledge and research are evident from his own works of fiction. Indeed, I can think of few people with whom I would relish discussing literature more. So this should have worked well. It feels though that he has been constrained by the format and the concept and that this unfortunately prevents the book rising to much more than a series of book reports on some of the great works of British fiction as well as some more surprising choices.

In fact, the first thing I did on finishing this book was to return to the Introduction in an attempt to deduce what Faulks was aiming to achieve - hardly a good sign. If you ever have the urge to annoy one of the greatest of modern British fiction writers, it seems that there is nothing so guaranteed to raise his ire than to ask him who his characters are based on. It's a fair cause of irritation, and Faulks is keen to reclaim the authors' imagination as the source of genius. He cites a couple of examples of readers of his own works, including Vince Cable, who have fallen fowl of this trap, though while amusing, these are less disturbing than the readers who sought Wilkie Collins' source for Marian in The Woman in White as a kind of literary dating agency.

The problem is that it's not difficult to defend the role of imagination. You can see why it would be particularly irritating for a predominantly historical novelist, and although admittedly outside of the novel genre, the nonsense spouted by those who should know better in determining Shakespeare's life from his fictional characters is not suggested. However, it remains likely (we can say no more) that some authors do base their characters, or at least parts of them, on their experiences and perhaps this is why Faulks steers clear of Charlotte Bronte here.

The relatively lengthy Acknowledgements chapter is interesting and perhaps illuminating. Faulks notes that he would rather the book had been called Novel People, taking himself out of the title. He also reports that the TV series has him jetting off to interesting locations and hosts a list of eminent novelists who have contributed to the exercise (as well as long list of unpaid interns who have read through the books for the author). There's little evidence of this in the book though. What's more, the author's mixed views about his own name in the title is indicative of the problem. As a book, I wanted more of him and less of the format that perhaps the exercise has forced him into.

Each character type presents examples chronologically and after occasional interesting context in world literature, he jumps right into plot descriptions. While this will be manna from heaven to students struggling with book reviews, it doesn't inspire you to explore classics that you might have missed because he always tells you the ending. Neither is there any sense of development despite the chronological nature of the ordering. Instead we get different types of snobs, lovers or whatever. It's a bit like reading a guide to a gallery of fine art. It doesn't add much in the way of value to our appreciation though. What I wanted was more Faulks. What impact did these books have on him? To be fair there is some of that, but not enough.

The one shining exception to the sporadic insights that do genuinely provide enlightenment, is the excellent chapter on James Bond - here listed as a snob. Why is this so excellent? Well, Faulks took on the task of adding to the genre by writing his own Bond book and the insight is fascinating because it's the only chapter that you really feel you are benefiting from the writer's own views and experience. In fact, it would have been interesting if he had also included one of his own characters in the analysis.

So where does this leave us? I suspect that the four part TV series will be interesting and would urge book-lovers to seek it out in Spring 2011. As a book though, I was disappointed and it is something more to dip into when it was an opportunity to be so much more. I felt, perhaps unfairly, that the author had been too restricted by the confines of the formula and this is to the detriment of the book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthusiastic and intelligent discussion of great British characters and novels..., 29 Feb 2012
By 
S. P. Moses (Epsom, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As someone who is interested in English literature, but who has by no means read all the classics, I found this overview of the great British characters and novels fascinating. Faulks writes entertainingly and has given me greater insight and a deeper understanding of novels such as Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice, Notes On A Scandal and 1984. I found the analysis of James Bond particularly interesting, enjoying the 'inside story' on the creation of Faulks' Ian Fleming homage Devil May Care.

The author says that Faulks on Fiction is not 'literary criticism' though the introduction does place the novel within the context of such thinking. After that I was caught up in Faulks' enthusiasm for the subject. While I may never get around to reading such classics as Tom Jones or Vanity Fair, I feel I know a little more about them. Actor James Wilby reads the material well. Though Faulks On Fiction is intelligently written, it is no dry academic work. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in good books, old and new.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book for book lovers....., 15 Nov 2011
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Faulks on Fiction (Paperback)
Using the device of fictional characters Sebastian Faulks looks at the workings of the novel. The characters are divided into Heroes, Lovers, Snobs and Villains and the books are from 1719 to 2003.

What shines through in this non-academic work is the author's love of literature - it would be a stony-hearted reader who was not affected by his enthusiasm. (Having said that I still have no intention of reading Clarissa!)

It is also a reminder of books read long ago. Faulks writes with a lack of pretension and re-evaluates some of the books that he first read as a young man. He reflects that a re-reading of Tom Jones brought forth a quite different opinion. He confirms that the reader does not have a fixed or immutable view of literature - our attitudes to it change as we change. So coming back to an "old favourite" can be a joyful or a disappointing experience.

Readers will undoubtedly argue as to whether the choices of characters were right. On the whole the balance was just about right. I was delighted that Ronald Merrick was included - The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott is a neglected classic. And, reading between the lines, I think Sebastian Faulks found The Golden Notebook to be as tedious as I did.....

Very enjoyable - a book for book lovers.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great novelist on great novels., 23 Jun 2011
By 
Benjamin J. Whitehouse "Book geek" (Wrexham, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A bestselling author introduces us to 28 famous English novels, from Robinson Crusoe to Brick Lane. Sebastian Faulks is passionate about his form; yet this audio book is actually an adjunct to a "landmark series on BBC2". Seems that even the most eloquent novels cannot easily stand alone in a visual age.

Plot summaries are given, novels are rattled through making this a great audio book to dip into rather than feeling you have to slavishly start at the start and end at the end.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great accompaniment if you enjoyed the TV series, 8 April 2011
This review is from: Faulks on Fiction (Hardcover)
A wonderful read you can dip in and out of by section and/or character. Having enjoyed the BBC programme a great deal I was a little nervous buying the book in case it didn't do the series justice. The book is a delight, giving an open, varied opinion on some wonderful literary characters as well as making me curious about a number of other books you may or may not already be familiar with.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read for a bibliofile, 17 Mar 2011
By 
Stracs "Stracs" (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Sebastian Faulks, author of the modern classic Birdsong, takes a look at the great characters of British literature. These characters are divided into four categories - the heroes, lovers, snobs and villains in works such as Wuthering Heights, The Woman in White, Pride and Prejudice, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The End Of The Affair.

This is the book to accompany the recent BBC2 series, Faulks on Fiction. Inevitably you can argue on which characters have been included in the book and also whether they really fit the categories assigned to them. However, for those with a general interest in literature it is well worth a read. The coverage is wide, from the likes of Defoe and Thackeray through to modern writers like Monica Ali and Zoe Heller. Faulks has clearly put a lot of research into this work and this, combined with his fine writing skills, make it a though provoking and pleasannt read.

However, if I am honest, I would have liked to sections on each character to be even more in depth and I felt the format was a bit too restrictive for a writer of Faulks talent. The relatively in depth look into the plots of the books is frustraing if you havent read any of the books given that the ending is given away!I am sure more could have been made of the book, but its still a worthwhile read. I also felt that an important element of the TV series, the chronological development of a given character type, was rather lost in the book - probably as a result of the format.

I would still recommend this as a good, relatively easy read for book lovers, and the audio version is also well read and brings the book to life as far as possible, though perhaps it would have been better if Faulks himself had done the audio.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dry, but Worthy., 3 Mar 2011
By 
Paul M "ROYALSFAN" (Reading ,England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This collection is a wide ranging attempt to dissect a range of novels by a respected author. In a sense this academic busman's holiday attempts to offer an overview of several centuries of written work, and perhaps the scope of the collection is its main problem.

Sebastian Faulks decision to read, and present this work himself shows the limitations of this approach without the aid of visuals or sound diversions to enhance the dry and unemotional delivery. Faulks should be applauded for attempting to raise interesting points on a range of novels [ although Science Fiction barely gets a look in], from Robinson Crusoe, to Lord of the Flies via Wuthering Heights. This is admirable and obviously a passion for Faulks, but the collection seems to lack a little focus as the series progresses, meaning that it can become quite easy to wander ,particularly as the narrration is so one paced and even a little grating at times.

Still, as a basic academic tool for students, some of these essays may be useful [ If you have the time], but as an exercise in trying to establish an enthusiasm for the writtten novel, this collection does have its limitations
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Series of Passionless Remarks-Audiobook Review, 1 Mar 2011
By 
Amazon Customer "Boo62" (Ilkeston Derbyshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The thought of a fond look at the famous literary characters of British fiction seems to me a great idea. Simple but with endless possibilities.
Faulkes takes the critics approach and from the very first sentence launches into the wordy and `serious' tone of a lecturer.
While rapidly dismissive of the modern approach to fiction there is a lot of truth in his appraisal of the need for the words `based on' to be applied in order for the reader to be able to associate the book with something or someone they know, preferably themselves. There is indeed a sad lack of ability to appreciate anything truly `novel'.
One of the first problems encountered is the authors tendency for pretension. In describing his book, having already mentioned as many of his own novels as he could cram in, `I hope I will be a touch on the brake of the runaway truck of biographical reductionism.' Should be a laugh a paragraph eh?
He then launches into his first character arena, `hero's'. Decrying the misuse of the word he tells us `this is how semantic shifts often occur. Someone uses a word out of context or with a little spin. A reader fails to see the irony or tension, others follow.' Too true. I can't help feeling the words used out of context in the publishers blurb were `engaging, fascinating & compelling'. I wonder if it will create a `semantic shift'?
There is much here to learn from and although Faulkes' opinion is not the final word this work would have us believe it is at least worth a listen.
The problem is that this really is a wordy and pretty dry trip across literary Britain.
Fine if you're studying literary criticism but frankly soulless if you're not.
With so much to draw on surely there was room for some fun here? You are just left with the feeling that the author admires the works here but has he really enjoyed any of them? You know, just read a book for the sheer excitement, the ride the author takes you on or for a love of the characters within? Deconstructing everything is all well and good but doesn't always add to the joy to be had from reading.
I have to say the rather stuffy atmosphere is not helped by the reading of this audio book. I felt the characterisations to be stagey and at times positively awful. So too the many portentous pauses to emphasize a clever sentence. `One of the better novels to emerge from the great war was.. death of hero. Though he could almost have called it death of...wait for it...still pausing to overemphasize the point...THE hero'.
I have to be honest and say that while the book itself is worthy it's not exactly riveting. Often with audio books an okay book is given some life by way of a lively reading. Not here I'm afraid because the points that irritate in the writing, ( detachment and pretentiousness), are simply exacerbated by the reading.
This is a long winded and at times dull attempt at critiquing British literature. It has some interesting things to say but ultimately fails to engage the reader, or in this case, the listener.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Faulks on Fiction
Faulks on Fiction by Sebastian Faulks (Hardcover - 27 Jan 2011)
17.50
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews