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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe I've never heard about this guy until now!
No spoilers in this review
I read an article in the Guardian interviewing the author a few days ago. I'd never even heard of him, but the article was spellbindingly interesting.
For this book there was a passage that earned him a 'bad sex award' and the article goes on to say

"Nicholson refused to play the good sport - although he did print up some...
Published 6 months ago by CharlesA

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story of WW2 and post-war India
British author and screenwriter William Nicholson's new novel, "Motherland" is, in part, peopled with characters he's included in previous novels. This novel, which takes place - mainly in the WW2 era England and post-war/independent India - begins and ends with a modern setting, which establishes some of the characters and their places in the story. By the way,...
Published 15 months ago by Jill Meyer


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe I've never heard about this guy until now!, 21 Jan 2014
This review is from: Motherland (Paperback)
No spoilers in this review
I read an article in the Guardian interviewing the author a few days ago. I'd never even heard of him, but the article was spellbindingly interesting.
For this book there was a passage that earned him a 'bad sex award' and the article goes on to say

"Nicholson refused to play the good sport - although he did print up some Bad Socks award Christmas cards for his friends - and instead asserted the importance of dealing honestly with the subject and called for a Good Sex award. "It is not to do with just describing sex, it is to do with discussing our hopes and fears about something important. We have no idea if our sex lives are aberrant or not. We don't know whether we are undersexed or oversexed. People can actually benefit from these things being talked about more openly and truthfully."

I thought, ok, perfect, I'm going to check this guy out. So I went and got a copy of Motherland. A book with a chick-lit type cover (DO NOT let that put you off) about a love triangle between a woman and two men in WW2. I was only into it about 20 pages when I started to think. I absolutely love this. And it just got better and better.
The characterisation is simply astounding, you start to feel that you really know and care about these people and the way they communicate has none of the cliche of a lot of WW2 dramas we've been relentlessly exposed to, these are sentient flesh and blood people, of their own time, but timeless as well, aware that life is truly difficult to live well.

Rather than go on and on about the plot, you can read it yourself, I will just say that for me this is what fiction should be about, the human condition, about love and morality. It's really beautifully written in an unaffected and totally unpretentious style, in other words, there is no stylistic tricksy-ness, but that does not make the writing any less exquisite. Nicholson has a highly humane and consistent authorial voice.

I think it's destined to become a classic.

Now I will busy myself reading everything else he has written.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story of WW2 and post-war India, 24 April 2013
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Motherland (Hardcover)
British author and screenwriter William Nicholson's new novel, "Motherland" is, in part, peopled with characters he's included in previous novels. This novel, which takes place - mainly in the WW2 era England and post-war/independent India - begins and ends with a modern setting, which establishes some of the characters and their places in the story. By the way, "Motherland" seems to refer to the British Empire.

For me as an Amazon reviewer, the hardest reviews to write are the 3 star reviews. At Amazon, 3 stars are lumped in with "negative" ratings, but they really shouldn't be. It's fairly easy to write a 4 or 5 star review; basically you either liked the book or really liked the book. One and 2 star reviews are equally easy to write; just explain the reasons you hated a book or why you really hated a book. Three stars, on the other hand, mean a mixed bag. I wish Amazon would view three stars as "neutral"; neither good nor bad, and possibly appealing to readers, while other readers shouldn't bother with it.

Nicholson's three main characters - one woman and two men - form the ever-popular romantic triangle. As with all love-triangles, there are winners and there are losers. In "Motherland", war-time ATS driver Kitty must choose between two soldier-suitors she meets during her driving duties. The problem is that we have met "Kitty", "Ed", and "Larry" many times before. Oh they may have had different names and been active in different wars, but basically a war-time romantic triangle is just that...a war-time romantic triangle. And although William Nicholson tries hard, his characters just don't step off the page and distinguish themselves in the reader's imagination.

That is not to say "Motherland" is a bad book. It's not. It's just not a rememberable one. The reader of war-time romances which continue into the dull days of the post-war will enjoy this book. He or she might just not remember it in a year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars historically interesting, 27 April 2013
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This review is from: Motherland (Hardcover)
The 'love story' was a bit unoriginal, but the story of the Dieppe raid was fascinating, especially when I googled it, and realised how cleverly fact had been incorporated into the fictional characters.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's done it again!, 12 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Motherland (Kindle Edition)
I love William Nicholson's writing, and in Motherland, he's done it again! Not only complex, likable characters, but a great story, and even though it was set in the Second World War, it felt fresh because we lived it through characters that we already felt we knew well, and that it was their unique experience. And I think he's a marvel, because he weaves the same characters into his books at different times in their lives, and with less or more of a central part in the plot. He's a genius if you ask me!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of editing would go a long way, 23 May 2013
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This review is from: Motherland (Kindle Edition)
Hugely ambitious scope. War, empire, Catholicism, love, family, art, loss, post-war, colonialism and more. Overlong and some appalling dialogue in the first section however good plot and some great characters but many fall away into cliche. I did enjoy the book but felt it needed a very good editor to prune the plot lines so the story would have had more impact. Overplayed some parts and yet other parts were just left unfinished.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1940s and 1950s love triangle, 12 Feb 2013
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Motherland (Hardcover)
A love triangle mainly set in 1940s and 1950s England concentrating on the emotional impact of the War on both those who went and those who were left behind. There's also a fairly strong Catholic faith element to this story - expect guilt and repression as well as love and loyalty.

William Nicholson's "Motherland" starts and concludes in the present day with Alice Dickinson travelling to France to meet her recently discovered grandmother, but the huge majority of the book concerns a love triangle between Kitty, Alice's great grandmother, an army driver in Sussex in 1942, Ed, a Royal Marine commando and his school friend Larry, a liaison officer with Combined Ops. The story spans the war, particularly Mountbatten's disastrous raid on Dieppe, and the post war years as Ed and Larry seek to overcome their war time experiences and the impact of these on Kitty and her relationship with these two men.

The story within a story works well enough to get us to the real story, but doesn't add a huge amount to the book. Alice doesn't really get much from this other than the unknown history of her family. As a set up, it's fine to get us to the past but it does mean that the ending is rather less powerful than if we had just ended in the 1950s.

This is the fourth of what Nicholson calls his "Sussex novels", along with "The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life", "All the Hopeful Lovers" and "The Golden Hour". While each of these are entirely stand alone books, Nicholson offers a little treat to avid readers of his books with glimpses of some of the characters and their pasts seen throughout the oeuvre. If you haven't read any of the others yet, you won't miss anything, but if you have, it's a nice treat to be reminded of locations and families that you have encountered elsewhere. It also means that there is no need to read them in any particular order.

Where, for me, Nicholson excels is in his dialogue. This is not too surprising as his credits include screenwriting for both "Gladiator" and "Shadowlands". It does mean that the war section though, which is a relatively small yet pivotal part of the book, lacks the visceral quality that other authors such as Sebastian Faulks achieve and this means that while it is clearly well researched and accurate, you never really feel the devastating impact that it had on Ed in particular.

I didn't particularly warm to any of the three main leads however. Many of Nicholson's characters are repressed and quite sad. Much of the story relates to Larry, who is rather the gooseberry in the love triangle. I often found myself more interested in some of the more minor characters, particularly the rather wonderful Louisa Holland, a friend of Kitty's from her driving days. She's such a force of nature that she seems somewhat underwritten in this story.

While it might not be my favourite of Nicholson's books to date, he is always highly readable and tells a good story with interesting insight into human traits. Here he gets to play with love, loyalty, betrayal, faith and doubt. Every now and then, he also offers up a thought of a view that is a new way to look at things even though for much of the book he's dealing with fairly well trodden situations. For me though, there was just too much of a gap between the experiences of Kitty and the impact on Pamela, (Alice's grandmother) and therefore on Alice herself. It's this "mise en scene" aspect that ultimately had me yearning for more connection to the main narrative. For all that, the story is addictive and for the most part enthralling though.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Triangle of Love, 22 Dec 2012
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Motherland (Kindle Edition)
William Nicholson moves away from the contemporary setting of his previous novels for his latest book: 'Motherland' which is mostly set during the 1940s and 1950s and focuses on the love triangle between the three main protagonists: Kitty, Ed and Larry.

During the Second World War, Kitty Teale, a very attractive young woman, meets two men: Ed Avenell, a charismatic but troubled commando in the Special Services, and his best friend, liaison officer in the Combined Ops, Larry Cornford. Both men fall for the lovely Kitty, but although she enjoys the company of the kind and good-natured Larry, she falls in love with the more handsome and exciting Ed, and the two marry just before both Ed and Larry are sent to Nazi occupied France in Operation Jubilee, the largest military assault since Dunkirk, commanded by Admiral Lord Mountbatten. The operation is a disaster and on the beach at Dieppe, whilst Larry is practically paralysed with fear, Ed's brave actions in saving dozens of wounded soldiers, wins him the Victoria Cross. A wounded Larry returns home safely to Kitty, but Ed is captured by the Germans and spends the rest of the war as a prisoner where he is mentally tortured. Larry cannot help feeling guilty and ashamed, for not only did he panic under fire and feared for his own life, whilst Ed saved others, he is now falling more deeply in love with Kitty. When Ed returns home at the end of the war, he cannot settle and, struggling with his inner demons, he turns away from Kitty and their toddler daughter, Pamela, to find solace in alcohol; Larry, meanwhile, returns to art school at the Camberwell College of Art where he is taught by William Coldstream, and tries to stifle his feelings for Kitty, firstly by having an affair with the wayward and amoral Nell and, later, with the beautiful, but sexually cold, Geraldine, whom he meets when he is in India with Mountbatten. (No spoilers - there is a lot more for prospective readers to discover in this novel, especially about how both Kitty and Larry cope with their longings and feelings).

Moving from London and East Sussex, to France, India, Jamaica and the USA, Nicholson's 'Motherland' follows the lives of three characters who are bound together through love, through loss and through the tragedy of war and its aftermath. Nicholson's depiction of the Dieppe landings is rather gripping and he writes movingly about love, about duty and about what it means to be good. Writing in a more philosophic frame of mind in this novel, Nicholson ruminates about religion, lack of religion, morality and the meaning of life and this story, therefore, has a more serious tone to it than his previous trilogy of novels: The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life; All the Hopeful Lovers and The Golden Hour. The author has researched the historical details of his novel well and he tells us in an afterword that he has relied in matters of historical fact and tone of voice, on his wife, the social historian, Virginia Nicholson, which, in part, explains the different feeling and scope of this novel. I found this a well-written, absorbing and far-reaching story; however, I do have to say that I did not find this book quite as convincing, pertinent and entertaining as Nicholson's novels set in contemporary England, dealing with the minutiae, the quiet desperations and the complexities of seemingly ordinary family life - which, I feel, is where the author's strength lies.

4 Stars.

Please Note: In addition to the trio of novels mentioned above, I would also recommend William Nicholson's: The Trial Of True Love
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as expected, 3 Dec 2013
By 
John Hawthorn - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Motherland (Kindle Edition)
The blurb about the book made it sound far much better than it is. Slow moving not very interesting story.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine dialogue carries the book, 28 Feb 2013
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Motherland (Hardcover)
A good quasi-romance novel about getting on with life in times fraught with general conflict and dysfunction. "Motherland" is set for the most part during WWII and early postwar England and follows the strivings of two men and the woman that they both love. The cast of secondary characters is large and often more interesting than the principals. While the storyline launches in a way similar to dozens of other books set in the period, it does eventually dig in and establish a kind of originality. The book's strength is in its dialogues which dominate and drive the plot. The author's experience as a screenwriter is evident and brings credibility to the interactions and growth of the characters.

I found the book a little slow in getting started, but eventually, when the main characters have been established and their qualities and seminal experiences taken place, the story grabs you. What I truly wish for for this entertaining novel (but doubt will come to pass) is a new title ("Motherland" doesn't really frame the tale all that well) and a new cover illustration (the current one is hilariously misleading). A good read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sensitive portrayal of individuals at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, 26 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Motherland (Kindle Edition)
I pondered between 4 and 5 stars, but in the end the quality of the writing edged me to 5. This is different to the other books by Nicholson that I have read, as it is set in a different time to our own, but it still contains the qualities I admire in his writing, which are insight, subtlety, characterisation and a writing style that seems to the reader to be effortless.
Nicholson deserves a wider reputation. I personally rate him alongside Sebastian Faulks and William Boyd
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Motherland by William Nicholson
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