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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this!
I heard a review of this book on Radio 4 late one night and it intrigued me. So much so that I bought the book - they raved about how interesting the author must be and how they wanted to meet her. After reading the book I would have to agree. I would love to know how her brain works to write a novel in a style that can only be described as 'beautiful'. I tried to think...
Published on 22 Jun 2001 by Amber

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat disappointing and thin
Having heard a review of this book on Radio 4 I was eagerly looking forward to reading it on holiday recently. I regret to say that I found it sadly wanting. The story itself is so paperthin that the padding was, by necessity, ridiculous in both length and content. I felt that it was very unrealistic, and although the storytelling tools were cleverly devised and used,...
Published on 29 Sep 2000


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat disappointing and thin, 29 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Great Ideas (Paperback)
Having heard a review of this book on Radio 4 I was eagerly looking forward to reading it on holiday recently. I regret to say that I found it sadly wanting. The story itself is so paperthin that the padding was, by necessity, ridiculous in both length and content. I felt that it was very unrealistic, and although the storytelling tools were cleverly devised and used, they soon palled. The thirteen year old Haddie did not ring quite true, even given the trauma of her circumstances that summer.
I also found a lot of the auto-didact references were too obscure and did not add to the flavour of the book. I do not classify myself as illiterate: I studied greek and roman classical mythology at school, but maybe I missed something here. Although there were tenuous links between the asides and the main script I don't believe they enhanced the story as much as the author hoped.
I will certainly keep an eye on this author's next works, but this one was not to my taste.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this!, 22 Jun 2001
This review is from: The Great Ideas (Paperback)
I heard a review of this book on Radio 4 late one night and it intrigued me. So much so that I bought the book - they raved about how interesting the author must be and how they wanted to meet her. After reading the book I would have to agree. I would love to know how her brain works to write a novel in a style that can only be described as 'beautiful'. I tried to think of something more adequately descriptive but that is the only word that comes to mind. The book itself is witty and refreshing and very hard to put down. I did feel that the last few pages went a little fast compared to the rest of the book but when I had time to reflect afterwards I could see why. Perhaps I just felt robbed because I had finished the book so quickly! I certainly won't hesitate to buy anything else that the author produces and I hope that she produces it soon!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a mystery, but you wouldn't know it, 2 May 2003
By 
Star_Sea "Xing" (Salisbury, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Great Ideas (Paperback)
The book starts with an excerpt from a local newspaper: is it an epigraph, is it part of the story? In the end, you find out it's both, but it takes a while to get there, and the reader finds themselves becoming involved in all sorts of other mysteries on the way. The book is narrated by Haddie, a 13 year-old living in the shadow of her deceased sister, even possessing the same name. Naturally, this makes the identity crisis of adolescence even more painful than it already would be (one example is that when she once got lost in a store, and the tannoy announced her name, Haddie didn't move, because she thought they were calling her elder sister). The mysterious death of her sister haunts her life and her parents (who are significantly absent throughout the book). Most family information is given either through the family servant, a colourful character that I enjoyed, or Haddie's grandmother, by far the most sensible characer in the book, who tells Haddie to 'leave the past alone'. Advice that Haddie ignores, naturally, with eventually tragic consequences. Haddie's closest 'friend' is her neighbour Louie Lewis, more amoral than immoral, who is usually involved in one illegal scheme or another. Then there is his mother, Haddie's teacher from Charm School, French and unreachable, and the mysterious neighbour who moves into the abandoned Monroe house.
The story starts out as a slightly whimsical coming-of-age and progresses by way of the alphabet. The bits of information are both intriguing and disorientating as Haddie switches from escapades with Louie to musings about whatever new discovery she has made. Her sister, who has been held up as an unreachable ideal all her life, beautiful and destined for stardrom, is gradually revealed to be imperfect with a best friend even more disturbed than Louie. The mysterious neighbour turns out to be far more than he seems, providing a refreshing insight into Haddie's problems. At this point, I hoped that a reasonably happy ending might not be too far off. The ending is both tragic, but also has a sense of the inevitable, much like the Greek plays that Haddie becomes enamoured of.
If you want a novel that is mysterious, sinister, with VERY off-beat characters, you can do no better than this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those books you never want to finish..., 18 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Great Ideas (Hardcover)
I am still only two thirds of the way through this book and I am reading it every opportunity I get, but I already want to start reading it again. The story of the death of Haddie's sister thirteen years ago is gradually revealed, eked out in small doses, interspersed with the present day adventures of Haddie and her best friend Louis Lewis. Haddie is curious, enquiring and very insightful for her age, but this is the beauty of the book. Her observations and her musings are all tied in with her own casual "investigation" into her sister's death, and her study of the "A" section of the encyclopedia which leads her into the realms of philosophy, religion, history...all of which is explored from a fresh viewpoint - the questioning, curious mind of a child, verging on maturity and wanting to make sense of everything. This is the kind of book where you need someone sitting next to you while you're reading it so you can share each surprising little fact she uncovers, or observation she makes - several on each page. Also, the imagery and descriptions are very original, sometimes startling in their accuracy, sometimes quirky, sometimes crude childlike comparisons. I cannot speak highly enough of this book, it is too complex to describe here. It is unlike any other book I have read but well worth the risk. An absolute joy to read. Small gems on every page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, start reading NOW!, 6 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Great Ideas (Paperback)
This is a brilliant book, the moment that I closed the book at the end I was compelled to open it again at the beginning! I could not resist the urge to read long chunks of it out to anyone who would listen to my rambling. I found the etiquette classes particularly amusing and Haddie's musings deeply interesting. This is a unique book and I hope that others enjoy it as much as I have!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Talented author, annoying book, 20 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Great Ideas (Paperback)
Cleminshaw has talent but this is very much a first novel. The narrator's tone wears thin pretty quickly--she doesn't seem 13 at all and isn't believable. On the other hand, her friend Louis Lewis (typical of the bad jokes in this book, that name) acts like he's about eight when he's supposed to be 16. In truth, not a single character rings true, including the character called "the bachelor" or Louis's totally contrived mother. And the melodrama of the last few pages comes off as just plain ridiculous.
All the facts crammed into this book make it soporific unless one's really hooked on mythology and, really, they're rather apropos of zilch. Ms. Cleminshaw's writing does, however, ooze style and I am sure she's got a better book in her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling, unique, totally engaging book, 8 Dec 2000
This review is from: The Great Ideas (Paperback)
From the moment you begin reading this book you are transported into the childhood of a young girl growing up in a small town. It evokes strong memories of how we think and act as children, caught between rebellion and security. The writing is so unique, so smart, so compelling that you savor every word, every concept. I found myself entering the world of the characters, leaving behind the present world, and simultanously being astonded at the beauty and complexity of the words and the ideas on the written page. This is the most beautifully written,compelling, and unique book. It is a modern Catcher in the Rye. It is a classic story of our shared youth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A superb book, reminiscent of "The Catcher In The Rye", 29 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Great Ideas (Hardcover)
This is a superb book, reminiscent of Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye". Cleminshaw's quirky heroine, Haddie, reflects on those around her and her daily experiences with the same refreshing originality. Haddie is like Lucy Simpson, despite the craziness of her situation her simple integrity serves to accentuate the bizarness of the other characters.
Although set in America, with an all American cast and even an all American hero, the novel retains a European culture and philosophy. The result is a complex structure which the author handles with great skill through the thoughts of the young Haddie. Her eagerness to learn and embrace new ideas, great or otherwise, is the perfect way of blending the rich ingredients which combine to give the story such a distinctive and longlasting flavour.
Suzanne Cleminshaw is to be congratulated on producing an outstanding first novel, I hope unlike Salinger, she will enjoy her success and go on to write many more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A subtle, many-layered first novel, 21 Mar 2000
By 
This review is from: The Great Ideas (Paperback)
An extraordinary novel of adolescence, where the 13 year-old narrator endeavours to make sense of life using what tools are at hand - such as the A-section of an encyclopaedia, a history of philosophy, the advice of a quirky housekeeper, and the maxims she is learning from Charm School. Her principal problem is to make sense of the death of her older sister, which is a mystery with a terrible solution. The story is reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, but whereas Lee Harper's protagonist is only six, the narrator in this novel has to face the complications of puberty. An absorbing read, and an extremely subtle first novel. One of the minor reasons I like this book is that it is the only novel I have ever read that has an index.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the most stunning ending to a novel that i've ever read!, 7 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Great Ideas (Hardcover)
The writing of Suzanne Cleminshaw is one of the most complex efforts of humor and tragedy that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The characters she created for us were tangible in an almost eerie sense, I could almost feel that I had known Louis Lewis and enjoyed the charm and quirkyness of his character. I was sad to see him and the other's go at the end.
The Great Ideas was one of the most unique and entertaining books that I have ever read and I wait with interest for Suzanne's next novel.
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The Great Ideas
The Great Ideas by Suzanne Cleminshaw (Hardcover - 3 Jun 1999)
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