- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Virago (3 Nov. 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 034900675X
- ISBN-13: 978-0349006758
- Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 3.3 x 16.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Dark Circle: Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2017 Hardcover – 3 Nov 2016
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Exhilaratingly good . . . This is a novel whose engine is flesh and blood, not cold ideas . . . Grant brings the 1950s - that odd, downbeat, fertile decade between war and sexual liberation - into sharp, bright, heartbreaking focus (Christobel Kent Guardian)
A Grant novel is always a treat . . . Grant captures the stigma that surrounded TB perfectly (Evening Standard)
A writer whose language crackles with vitality and whose descriptive powers are working at such a high level (Spectator)
Linda Grant brings a forgotten slice of social and medical history to life by conjuring a rich cast of disparate - though equally desperate - characters observed with wry humour and affection to produce an absorbing and profoundly moving story (John Harding Daily Mail)
The novel is funny but also poignant . . . I loved it (Stylist)
The Dark Circle is, beneath its narrative surface, fiercely political. She poses a large, naggingly relevant, question. What would (will?) privatisation of the NHS mean? Read this fine, persuasive, moving novel and contemplate - if you can dare to - that awful possibility (John Sutherland The Times)
Fascinating . . . a revealing insight: both funny and illuminating, it is a novel about what it means to treat people well, medically, emotionally and politically (Hannah Beckerman Observer)
Grant is so good at conjuring up atmosphere and writes with earthy vivacity (Anthony Gardner Mail on Sunday)
Contemporary issues linger ominously in Grant's margins, silently enriching what's already an astonishingly good period piece (Lucy Scholes Independent)
Her cast of characters is nothing less than a portrayal of post-war, class-riven Britain from the indolent aristocracy, to Oxford-educated blue stockings, and from car salesmen to the bottom of the pile, German emigres and East End Jewish lowlifes . . .This is a novel, above all, about trauma caused by the "dark circle" of tuberculosis, and results in a "tight circle" of comradeship. The ambitious reach of the novel is wisely held in check by its focus on a time when Lenny and Miriam had to discover for themselves what it was to be human (Jewish Chronicle)
A rich, engaging novel, further proof that Grant can conjure up a special mood in a specific period with great humour (Ben Lawrence Sunday Telegraph)
Extraordinarily affecting (Alex Preston Observer)
An extraordinary depiction of the physical and emotional experience of illness. She marvellously communicates the poignancy of youth and sexuality in the presence of impending death. Grant's voice is unlike any other writer; so immediate and engaged even when writing historical fiction (Natasha Walter)
An amazing subject, wonderfully depicted, with plausible people whom I grew to love . . . the most surprising plot developments. So original and full of life (Joan Bakewell)
The new novel by the acclaimed author of Upstairs at the Party and the Booker-shortlisted The Clothes on Their Backs.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a superbly well-narrated story of a time in British society that is not that long ago, but now seems an eons past. It is rooted in the conventions and culture of those days, and is entertaining, occasionally amusing and thought-provoking.
It is the end of the war and two Jewish East End twins Lenny and Miriam find themselves in a sanatorium when Lenny is diagnosed with TB and his sister is also taken there in case he has infected her.
The sanatorium is in Kent, far away from their London roots, where everything is strange and frightening but their close bond with each other enables them to survive in this alien place. Miriam is separated from Lenny straight away and has to have bed rest sharing a room with Valerie who has been in the sanatorium some time. Lenny shares a room with a car dealer Colin Cox.
We are introduced to the other patients, ex servicemen, a university graduate, an aristocrat and a mysterious German woman and they are all at different stages of the illness, some are chronic and unlikely to recover despite the treatment and others respond well and will eventually leave but they all seem to stay at least a year maybe longer. The sanatorium is run by Dr Limb who instills in the patients that they have to learn to be patient. No one is forced to stay, it's not a prison and although they initially fight against it and want to go home, Lenny and Miriam eventually become accepting of their situation and as Lenny puts it 'the fight seems to go out of him'.
All patients are waiting for the new drug streptomycin to arrive which they had heard would cure them and until that comes they pass their time as best they can.
I almost didn't finish this book because it was quite depressing in the early chapters with graphic descriptions of treatments such as collapsing lungs and excruciating needle procedures that quite frankly I'd rather not know about.Read more ›
For me, a book has to satisfy different criteria. Obviously it must be well written and it must engage me. I don’t need it to be an easy read but I don’t want it to be so complicated that I have to make notes to keep track of everything. Finally, I like to learn something. The Dark Circle satisfied all of this and more.
I was aware of the situation prevailing after the end of the war in terms of rationing, housing problems, and crime. I also knew that TB was considered a killer at that time. What I was unaware of was the treatment of TB, complete bed-rest etc., and the conditions endured in the sanatoriums, as well as the impact of the National Health Service. This information gave a fascinating facet to the book.
So I was delighted to be offered The Dark Circle as an ARC.
Grant continues with the theme of looking at society from the point of the view of the outcast. The setting is 1949, and society is changing – most particularly, the foundation of the NHS the previous year gives the novel its particular framework. The central characters are twins, Lenny and Miriam, working class, Jewish, aspirational.
Despite the events of that recently ended war, anti-Semitism is alive and well. The book opens memorably, with savage political point and with humour. Sharp young Lenny, Teddy Boy in the making, a young man with prospects in property, is, at age 18 more interested in impressing the girls. He is in love, or at least in lust, with a sexy young Italian girl. He is up in Soho on his way to his appointment with the army – conscription, National Service, was not abolished until 1960. He finds himself caught up in a demonstration, which turns out to be one organised by anti-Semites. Lenny interrupts the demo and the hate-filled speaker quite choicely. Grant has a knack for making serious points without being po-faced, indeed using wit so that the reader snorts whilst getting the punch-point, the snapshot she wants us to think and feel about.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Rather slow and I could not engage with the characters.
Have shelved it and will try again another time.
The Dark Circle is one of those stories where you instantly fall in love with its characters. Truly engrossing and inspiring. My full review is on my blog: mybookinggreatblog.comPublished 29 days ago by My Booking Great Blog
Twins Lenny and Miriam are shocked to discover they have both contracted Tuberculosis. Whisked away to a sanatorium in the Kent countryside, they soon find themselves mixing with... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Janet Emson
This is a brilliant novel that combines historical research, complex character development, empathy and humour to depict the now largely forgotten institution of the TB sanatorium. Read morePublished 2 months ago by L. J. Ray
Well I am obviously in a minority here because I thought this novel ran out of steam around the 200 page mark and contained nothing but stereotypes. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Norman Housley
Britain's post war recovery as seen through the experiences
of diverse tubercular patients in the new NHS. Read more
Best of her books. So enjoyed the characters. Read this when i was in hospital! Loved it.Published 4 months ago by Mrs K Butler