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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most beautiful read
I really enjoyed reading The Most Beautiful Thing, my first by Fiona Robyn. I particularly relished how you got to know the characters as the story unfolded and didn't have them thrust upon you. They were easy to connect with emotionally, and to even understand and identify with Joe's dysfunctional family. The author dealt with the issue of mental health in a...
Published on 4 April 2012 by Penelope Grey

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I nearly did not finish this.
The Most Beautiful Thing is did not sweep me away. The narrative voice was not convincing and the characterisation of main character never resonated fully. As I read through it felt like I was getting a lot of unnecessary details about the characters that did not engage me and I considered giving up. In the second section it becomes clearer why Robyn has given this detail...
Published on 18 Feb. 2013 by Laura


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most beautiful read, 4 April 2012
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This review is from: The Most Beautiful Thing (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed reading The Most Beautiful Thing, my first by Fiona Robyn. I particularly relished how you got to know the characters as the story unfolded and didn't have them thrust upon you. They were easy to connect with emotionally, and to even understand and identify with Joe's dysfunctional family. The author dealt with the issue of mental health in a compassionate and caring manner, which I found impacted on my own opinions on this subject. A beautifully descriptive book that draws you into the world of a 14 year old boy who perhaps views the world in a different way to most people, and then when you revisit Amsterdam with him as a man in his twenties it is even more pleasurable. I can thoroughly recommend this book, and I for one will miss reading about Joe tonight.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I nearly did not finish this., 18 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: The Most Beautiful Thing (Kindle Edition)
The Most Beautiful Thing is did not sweep me away. The narrative voice was not convincing and the characterisation of main character never resonated fully. As I read through it felt like I was getting a lot of unnecessary details about the characters that did not engage me and I considered giving up. In the second section it becomes clearer why Robyn has given this detail but it is not satisfying. When Nell's voice comes to us directly through her letters I did cringe a bit. It did not convince and while it passed the time I would not recommend it.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indeed, the most beautiful thing, 29 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: The Most Beautiful Thing (Kindle Edition)
I read this in one sitting, staying up through the night to finish it. Initially, as I realised that I was going to read this in great big chunks, I imagined I would read Part One and leave Part Two to another day, but Fiona Robyn's gentle observations of the world inside Joe's head, and her compelling storytelling meant I couldn't just walk away from this tale. I found myself awake between 3 and 5am longing to know how Joe works through some extremely challenging situations.

Though it is not specified, Joe appears to have high level autism and Robyn has captured perfectly the strains and difficulties of Joe's experiences in the everyday world. However, her light touch also encapsulates the beauty that Joe finds as he explores Amsterdam, and reading this book is like seeing the wonder of the world through the eyes of a child, with the analysis of an intelligent adult. Fiona Robyn's descriptions of Amsterdam, of the art world and of the strains within family relationships are also spot on. All in all, an excellent read and I am delighted that Robyn's work has been opened up to me. More please!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, 3 Feb. 2013
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As other reviewers have noted, the central character Joe, appears to have Asperger's or similar, although this is implied rather than stated. His actions, motivations and suffering are described beautifully. His aunt Nel is well drawn too. Amsterdam is evoked nicely. This is a very human tale which I enjoyed greatly
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the most beautiful thing...., 13 Feb. 2013
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I'm not sure that I found The most beautiful thing in this book. I wanted to like it, it has had good critical review, but the cast of characters did not engage me as much as I wanted. Worth reading but don't put it at the top of your wish list.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars poignant and insightful, 1 Aug. 2013
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The character of Joe is beautifully handled.We can enter into his thought processes quite easily which is really an achieve ent as he seems to be on the Asprgers spectrum. A very tender unfolding of his growing understanding of where he comes from. I would highly recommend this book and will read more by Satya Robyn.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely beautiful, 17 April 2012
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A beautifully written, beautifully paced and, well, beautiful book.

The central character, Joe, grabbed my attention and affection right from the start. Other reviewers here have speculated that his emotional difficulties may describe autism. This didn't actually occur to me while I was reading and I'm not sure it's quite the right interpretation. Perhaps we simply don't need to label our different drummers.

I always find it interesting when a female author writes a male protagonist (and vice versa). It's potentially risky but here (admittedly from my female perspective), Joe rings true both as a 14-year-old and later as an adult. All the book's characters are convincing and I find myself wanting to know more about what happens to them.

This is an uplifting and surprising book which treats mental/emotional problems with sensitivity and no sentimentality. It has wonderful lighter moments, and the bitter-sweet ending left me hopeful while making me weep.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One to read, 26 April 2012
By 
Bugly (North Devon) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Most Beautiful Thing (Kindle Edition)
I had just finished reading a book that had a bit impact on me; it wasn't a great book it just made me think of things in my own life. It left me feeling that I would leave off reading for a while for fear of my next book being weak in comparison, you must know the feeling. Little did I know that `The Most Beautiful Thing' would be so very absorbing, it wasn't that I couldn't put it down, I just couldn't get away from it. The tale just pulls you in, you are watching a life and you want to know what happens, it is important to you to know. The central character is so unbelievably real in your mind as you read, that it is like observing a family member. You go to work but you still think about them, how they are coping, what they are doing. A real gem of a book; storytelling at the peak of the craft. If I could write like this, I would be a very happy man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy, beg, borrow or download it, but read it., 4 May 2012
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This review is from: The Most Beautiful Thing (Kindle Edition)
Sometimes when you read a book, it's as if you've thrown a stone in the water and the ripples spread out all around, going far beyond the immersion. That's how it was when I read this novel. I've told everyone I know to read it. It's an extraordinarily beautiful piece of writing, subtle and layered and thought provoking. I love the central characters, Joe and Nel and of course the cat; I love that you gradually get to know them and form your own views. I love that Joe was never actually labelled as autistic, high functioning or not. I was enthralled from beginning to end and will most definitely read more from this author. Buy it, beg for a copy, borrow it, download it, but read it; you won't be disappointed. 5 star for sure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another coming-of-age novel, and nice to see the central character 15 years on too, 28 Dec. 2013
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This is a rather lovely book, which I read in a single day (though I did have the advantage of being on holiday and spending most of that day on the beach!). I keep finding these books - like 600 Hours of Edward and The 10PM Question - which are hard to categorise but joys to read.

At 14, Joe is struggling to make sense of the world. His erratic mother and ineffective father constantly frustrate him, his friend Podge is becoming increasingly irritating, and girls are a mystery. He isn't interested in trainers or films, but seeks solace in books (no fiction, only facts) and expanding his knowledge of birds and meteorology. When we first meet him, he is on a plane, having been sent by his parents to spend a summer with his quirky, unpredictable aunt Nel in Amsterdam.

After an awkward first couple of days, Joe and Nel fall into an easy pattern of living together. She listens to him, doesn't judge him, and addresses things that are concerning him. In return, he dedicates himself to understanding why Nel is unhappy and finding ways to improve her love life. Along the way, he also makes a new friend in Emmie - the first girl he's really been able to connect with - and learns a bit of Dutch too. But his parents continue to frustrate him, even from across international borders, and Joe finds himself increasingly angry with adults keeping secrets from him - and unable to deal with those feelings of anger.

Part two jumps ahead 15 years. Joe is 29 and still struggling with life. All his teenage research hasn't prepared him for his dream job quite as well as expected, his parents are separated and distant, and he's been signed off work with depression. In an attempt to get better, he returns to Amsterdam to stay with his beloved aunt Nel and try to find some of the happiness he discovered there before. But within hours of arriving, Joe has to deal with unexpected tragedy and a burden of responsibility he isn't ready for.

Satya Robyn portrays Joe's teenage angst well. At times he is horrid, sulky and rude. But he is also loyal, sweet and determined. Some reviewers have suggested he is on the autistic spectrum, but this didn't occur to me. He's not quite like other boys - interested in football and action films and girls - and he is shy around certain adults. But some of his characteristics are just part and parcel of teenage-boyhood and he proves himself able to build strong and deep relationships with other people in a relatively short space of time, so I think the assessment of him as autistic - however high functioning - is unfounded.

The relationship between Joe and Nel is beautiful, and my favourite thing about the novel. They couldn't be more different and yet they have a connection that brings out the best in both of them. It's a connection that goes beyond a mutual love of ridiculous zombie films: they open up to one another and both really try to help the other. Joe is finally being treated like an adult, and finds himself maturing in response.

I preferred part one, but it's actually really nice to see the adult incarnation of a young character you've grown fond of. He's not as endearing as an adult, perhaps inevitably, but seeing echoes of the teenage Joe in him make it an authentic jump forwards. Mental illness is touched upon throughout, but in part two it's really brought to the fore and is dealt with in a compassionate and honest way. I had a slight niggling concern that the author was suggesting Joe's depression was inevitable, based on his character in part one and on his mother's background, which I didn't like (again, partly because I don't think his struggles as a teenager are that unique) - though I may have read too much into it.

If I had to make the comparison, I probably slightly preferred The 10PM Question, but I really like the addition of seeing the central character 15 years on in The Most Beautiful Thing. Despite aspects of the subject matter and some uncomfortable moments, it's a light, easy and enjoyable read.
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