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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars12
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 January 2002
I have now read two of McCarten's books, and though I adored Spinners I find this book even more satisfying. It is embedded in more realism than its precedessor, and combines wit with piercing socialm commentary, pathos with profundity. You will fall in love with Tracy Pringle and Saaman Sahar, and their entire extended family, but my favourite character would have to be Tracy's dad, Eric, the limping clown of the piece whose love for his daughter invites so much tragedy. I predict that McCarten's is a major literary career in the making.
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on 9 August 2006
I agree with every 5* review on here for this book, and I'm not sure where's a whole lot more I can add.

If like me you're just that little bit intrigued by 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves' or 'Sheherizad' then you'll love this book. As one reviewer put it, it's a magical blend of East meets West and how the two clash, adjust then ultimately blend.

The characters are terrific. Each one stands out and has his or her own style, nuance, flavour and appeal. That in itself is quite an achievement for an author. The storyline is unique and full of human trials and tribulations.

I'm jealous of anyone who hasn't read this...you will have a treat to look forward to that's for sure :)
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VINE VOICEon 17 January 2011
English Harem promises cross-cultural romance and culture clashes, and for the first third delivers. The romance is handled sensitively and convincingly, but also rather quickly. It rather a surprise to get to the wedding so early. What's going to fill the rest of the book? Well as it turns out some rather clunky plot developments around child custody, and increasingly predictable stereotyping.

I had enjoyed the 1st third but couldn't get to the end soon enough. No doubt the book is well intentions, but good intentions don't make up for poor characterisation and plotting.
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on 25 September 2006
It is so good to see that this word of mouth hit - which proved so popular when my book club read and discussed it earlier this year - has slowly found its way onto the bestseller lists, and deservedly so, for it is a timely and superbly realised work of art that has much to say about the zeitgist -dreaded word - with much to savour and be grateful for. Most of our readers group found it superior to White Teeth and wonder why books like this, which have so much to say about modern Britain, don't appear on the Booker Prize lists. Go figure. Highly recommended.
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on 5 March 2002
Simply great writing. For a first class English novel I recommend this book to any reader. Take Saul Bellow, mix him with Garcia Marquez and have the resulting writer pen a series of Coronation Street and you come close to the flavour of this important book - why important? It's themes I find so prescient that I recomend it be read immediatly. It's philosophical, big hearted and hilarious to boot. Terrific. More please!
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on 1 January 2006
I was given this book for Christmas and really didn't know too much about this author, but from the first page I was captivated by this stunning timely tale of east meets west in contemporary London!
Brilliant writing, superbly realised characters, funny while deeply moving it's one of the best books I've ever read. I'm off to find more from McCarten...
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on 25 September 2006
I saw the movie with Martin McCutcheon and Art Malik last Christmas and enjoyed it thoroughly. Now I have read the book on which the film was based, and liked it even better. I agree with Timothy Mo who said this is a very moving but at the same time very funny book. It is, more than anything else, a pleasurable read. The characters are well-drawn and authentic, especially Tracy, the working-class dreamer, and Sam, the Anglophile Iranian restaurant-owner. But it is in the dialogue and in the description of the minor characters (like Ricky, Tracy's ex-boyfriend or Tracy's dad, Eric Pringle) that the book excels. My only criticism is that the irony of some scenes verges on the grotesque, but all in all it was one of the best reads I've had in years, and one I heartily recommend to everyone.
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on 30 May 2002
Every now and again there is a book that is just a thoroughly good read, where you think 'This is so well written' and you want to read every word carefully. Anthony McCarten has achieved this with The English Harem. The prose is clever and enjoyable and the pictures and people are created deftly. Who could fail to like Tracey and Sam and even Eric and the boyfriend? This book cuts down our prejudices and tells us that people matter. Tracey the checkout girl falls for Sam who is fat, old and Iranian and has 2 wives. Sounds unlikely? It's amazing how you can fall right into their lives and love the 2 of them. Read it!
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A young London working class girl becomes one of three wives of a middle aged Persian. Superb characterizations; funny; touching; a novel about goodness (in a totally unmawkish way) in the midst of lack of understanding and (for a few pages) of unbearable wickedness; full of unexpected developments until the very last page.
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on 5 February 2012
would recommend this reading , I did see the TV adaption of it with Art Malik and Martine Mchutchinson which I really enjoyed, Full of ignorance and compassion. It is a love story with a sense of duty and respect.Great book.
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