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Broken Paperback – 3 Mar 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (3 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007270135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007270132
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.4 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,277,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

About the Author ~ Daniel Clay
Daniel Clay is thirty seven years old and married with no children. He lives in Hampshire in the UK.

Exclusive Interview with Daniel Clay

What is Broken. A Novel about?

Part narrated by Skunk Cunningham, an eleven-year-old girl in a coma, Broken. A Novel tells the intertwining stories of three families who live in a suburban square in the south of England. The Oswalds – Bob and his five daughters – are the neighbors from hell. They lie, steal, cheat, bully and intimidate anyone unlucky enough to be anywhere near them, including Rick Buckley, a geeky but harmless nineteen-year-old boy who lives with his mum and dad on the other side of the square. Humiliated publicly by the Oswalds in the early stages of the novel, Rick descends into madness and becomes the Broken of the title. Skunk, her brother Jed and their new friend Dillon become fascinated with what’s happened to Broken which, in turn, leads to Skunk ending up in the coma from which she narrates the story.

What inspired you to write it?

My starting point were the family structures in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and how much society has changed in the eighty or so years since the events depicted in that novel took place. Once I had that starting point, I wanted to write about life as I saw it at the time I was writing – mad and cruel and random, yet always capable of surprising you, and always somehow worthwhile.

Who are your literary influences?

As a teenager, James Herbert and Stephen King were huge influences because they created characters I believed in and cared about. Since then, I’ve tended to love individual novels rather than particular authors. Orwell’s 1984, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time, and Kem Nunn’s Tapping The Source are all novels I’ve now read several times (and wish I had written).

If you could recommend just one "must-read book" to anyone, what would it be and why?

Clive Barker’s Weaveworld. The same as the Harry Potter series, it has that knack of layering the fantastical over everyday life, but it’s darker and sexier and tinged with more horror as well. A magical read.

What top tips do you have for anyone looking to write their first book?

Write for the thrill of it and write for yourself. Try to surprise yourself. Try to shock yourself. Never try to write something that doesn’t excite you right from the outset. Never try to write what you think an editor or agent wants you to write. Think about how you can grab a reader’s attention and then not let them put your work down. Look at the writers who do this to you and compare their style to your style. Try to understand why they’re different. Try to do something about it. Read as widely as you can. Polish as hard as you can. And, most of all, have fun, enjoy yourself, challenge yourself, and never let the rejections stop you from writing.

Reviews for Broken. A Novel

We are not the only ones to love this book. Check out a selection of reviews below. As you can see a lot of the reviews have been written by our own Amazon customers. These are reviewers from our Amazon Vine programme. Scroll down to the customer review section to see all of the reviews submitted.

Bold, prescient, engaging, and oddly touching. Guardian

A stunning first book … I’d be amazed if it doesn't get short-listed at awards time. Murray, Amazon Vine top reviewer

Daniel Clay has managed to weave a tale that simultaneously highlights some of the more disturbing aspects of contemporary British society whilst capturing some of the sweet innocence of a child’s mind... gripping. H. Pierce, Amazon Vine top reviewer

Reminiscent of Angela's Ashes set in the present day – there is humour and warmth, and a surprisingly upbeat, satisfying ending. I think this is probably the best new fiction I have read in the last year. P. M. Fernandez, Amazon Vine top reviewer

This book grabbed me and I could not put it down… It will make you laugh, cry and gasp with horror. Kehs, Amazon Vine top reviewer

Beautifully written … I couldn't put the book down. It contains humour and is incredibly touching. I will certainly be looking out for Daniel Clay’s next book. Recommended to all. SM, Amazon Vine top reviewer


‘Bold, prescient, engaging, and oddly touching’ Laura Wilson, Guardian

‘This is a novel whose plot and vivid, pared-down imagery bravely patrol the terrifying border at which the human blurs into the bestial and inanimate … Daniel Clay's debut novel is remarkably controlled and disciplined … Clay’s triumph is in exploring the kindness and love that might heal and restore – and what it is to feel fully alive.’ Anita Sethi, Independent

‘It’s funny and sad and moving … and ultimately very engaging.’ Francesca Segal, Observer

‘A moving, intriguing and at times funny debut novel’ Daily Express

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are very few books which suck you into a world interwoven with believable characters and seamless plot lines but this is one of them.

If there is a criticism, then I would say that this is one of those books you can't just dip into and out again and pick up where you left off. I did pick at it for the first twenty pages with some difficulty. Then (on a free and sunny day) put aside the time to read it all the way through from the beginning to the end. Then the crescendo of a plot was given free rein to grip my attention to the end. Make time in your life for this book.
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I have to honestly say that this is the best book I've read for a long time. Recently I've found myself dropping a lot of books in the middle and never returning. Or completing a book and then thinking - actually that was rubbish. Broken hooked me from the very beginning, it was fast-paced and I read it in one sitting. I couldn't put it down, and I'm left with fond memories of how engrossed I was in it - it really took me away.

I was interested in all the characters, even the Oswalds, who I was made to have sympathy for when I didn't really want to like them at all. Having ran a shop in a council estate for a couple of years I found the story very believable, which would be depressing if it wasn't for Daniel Clay's brilliant comedic portrayal of the authorities.

And that reminds me, this is a very funny book without even trying to be. To insert comedy into such a sad story clearly takes an amount of literary genius. I laughed out loud at a number of points.

If my husband could read I would tell him to read this. Since he can't, I'm really glad they're making a film adaption.

Looking forward to more from Daniel Clay.
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Skunk (named after the band Skunk Anansie) lives on a street with the neighbours from hell - the Oswalds, a father and five daughters. One day Bob Oswald beats up a neighbour. His daughter Susan had told her Dad that Rick Buckley had raped her. She had told him that because he had found a foil of contraceptives under her bed, which she had stolen from a teacher's bag. Oswald had demanded a name and Rick Buckley's was the first one she could think of.

This book is full of this kind of mistake - people believe what someone has said even though they have no proof - even in some cases when common sense suggests its opposite. Rick Buckley is only the first victim of the Oswald madness and his fate escalates into manic proportions of paranoia. Children are the chief victims, mostly of each other. The bullying factor at the local schools are off the graph. The bullying of teachers by a parent, however, is beyond belief. I'm not suggesting that it couldn't happen, but the level suggested here would surely be too blatant to survive. Some teachers might be vulnerable, but never a whole school.

But let's pretend that this school has all the failures of the worst sink schools in the country. Let's pretend that the local police are usually too tired and bored to do their job properly, that the social services are incapable of doing their jobs properly. Because it could happen - it could all happen. Children could be preyed upon by their peers or neglected to the point where the parent is not sure when one of his children was last seen. There are lots of hopeless people around who don't know how to bring up their children with some semblance of decency.
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By Peppers #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What would you do if one of your daughters was raped? How far would you go if the boy was never prosecuted? What would you do if your young shy son was accused of rape? How far would you go to protect him from neighbours? What would you do if you were accused of rape, then after humiliating body searches and questions were left to walk home alone, shamed, and then beaten up? How far would you go for someone you loved? This is a powerful story, full of emotive and sometimes small `innocent' actions that made me realise that even small decisions could make a significant difference to love, life and death. Highly recommended, but make sure you put time aside to read it because you'll not be putting the book down once you start it.
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By Lincs Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 July 2008
Format: Paperback
This is definitely the best book I have read so far this year, I know it's going to be up there in my top ten books of all time - a keeper for me.

I'd call this a modern-day 'To Kill A Mockingbird' - and I'm sure that Daniel Clay has based his story on Harper Lee's original novel. Set in a street in modern day Southampton and narrated by Skunk who is laying in a coma and lives with her brother Jed and lawyer single father Archie - the 'Broken' of the title is nineteen year old Rick Buckley who plunges into a spiral of madness after being falsely accused by one of the Oswald sisters. The Oswald family are brilliantly depicted - five tearaway girls with an oafish, beer swilling, dope smoking Father who lets them run riot but will defend them to the end.

As the Oswald family become more and more uncontrollable, the consequences of their actions spread throughout the whole street. The novel shows how one disfunctional family can affected a whole community. We watch Broken slowly descend deeper and deeper into madness - we see how this affects his Mother and Father and how the system sadly fails him. We watch the effect the Oswald girls have on the other youngsters in the area - some of the bullying scence are horrific and very violent, but so emotional, you can feel the fear.

Skunk is such a real and likeable heroine - at the start of the book she is laying in a coma and narrates her story from there. The story is told in a very real and intelligent way, yet so easy to read and be drawn in by. It is often painful to read as you see the inevitable happening, yet cant do anything to stop it but you have to read on. There are very touching moments and also some laugh out load funny moments.

Each character is perfectly formed and rounded.
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