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Dark Places Paperback – 6 Sep 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprints edition (6 Sept. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330356410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330341226
  • ASIN: 0330341227
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘An eloquent, angry and humane novel. . . A very fine, albeit terrifying, writer’ Irish Times

‘Remarkable’ Guardian

‘A writer of extraordinary talent’ New York Times

Book Description

Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2001

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ever been at the receiving end of a manipulator, a narcissist, a psychopath and wondered what was going through their minds?
Read this book and you'll start to understand how their desperately unhappy and empty minds work. How they get their thrills from setting you up and causing you hurt. See the world through the eyes of a man with no soul, no heart, so humanity.
The book is slow to get going but once Albion Gidley Singer reaches adulthood it is totally absorbing. The dark places of Mr Singer's mind are revealed slowly, thoroughly in their full horror.
A good book is one that changes you, so you are not the same person after you've read it as you were before. This book is a superb read if you seek to understand the reasons behind the insidious put-downs, the belittling, and the petty little cruelties that such people delight in.
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Albion Gidley Singer, the first person narrator of Kate Grenville's "Dark Places", from the beginning considered himself to be "as insignificant as a dandelion", a mere speck that he could only ever so slightly believe in when reflected in the faces of others. He takes refuge in the glorification of facts, but not, in any way, in the processes of analysis and deduction; he is a latter day Gradgrind, using his obsessive knowledge of factual information to belittle others and to gain power and control over them. He is never aware of any shortcomings in his own behaviour or thinking despite his initial diffidence. He is the supreme narcissist and psychopath. What is worse is his misogyny; once he overcomes his fear of sexual contact his hatred for female flesh knows no bounds. So when his otherwise beloved daughter puts on excessive weight his hatred for female flesh is intensified.

As he comes from a very privileged Sydney family he is able to quickly gain power over many through inheriting his father's stationery company, but it is at home where his narcissistic and egomaniacal personality creates the greatest damage, especially where his daughter is concerned. Her initial delight in collecting as many facts as she can muster to impress her father equally delights Albion Gidley Singer, but when during puberty she attempts to follow her natural instincts then Albion Gidley Singer's controlling behaviour spirals out of control..........

Every word of the narrative is Singer's, but behind the beautiful prose Kate Grenville allows us to look deep into the slimy reservoirs of Singer's mind and shudder at the dangerous shallowness of this otherwise insignificant man. A brilliant and disturbing novel.
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Format: Paperback
Dark Places (aka Albion's Story) is the prequel to Lilian's Story by Kate Grenville, although it was published after Lilian's Story. Albion Gidley Singer can be defined as: the son of George Augustus Singer and Angelica Singer; the brother of Kristabel Singer; an acquaintance of James Ogilvie; proprietor of Singer Enterprises and pillar of society; husband of Norah Singer; father of Lilian and John Singer. But who is he really? He cannot grasp his real self; he feels he is an empty, hollow shell. This novel is filled with beautiful, evocative prose and haunting characters. The story dovetails neatly with events in Lilian's Story, and, after reading that novel, it is intriguing to see Albion's point of view of events described in common. It is also interesting to come to understand how Lilian's father came to be the way he was. A thought-provoking read.
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Loved this book although very dark. Have since read Lilian's Story which apparently was written first. I'm glad I read them in the reverse order but please read Lilian's Story if you haven't already. Together the books are awesome! I shall never look at a homeless person in the same way again. I have done voluntary work and paid work with disturbed and displaced people. Kate Grenville looks at why some of these people might be where they are and the efforts some make to preserve their own identity and pride. BRILLIANT.
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Format: Paperback
Difficult to know what to make of this book. It's a technically accomplished piece of writing but somehow unsatisfying. The protagonist, for all the reviewers' claims of rare insights into the mind of a psychopath, etc, is strangely flat, un-engaging and two-dimensional, in spite of the vast of weight of the text being dedicated to exploring his character. He just felt dull and ordinary. Yet another cardboard cut-out messed up, neurotic son of the bourgeoisie who behaves pretty much true to form, exploring the limits of what his money and social position permit him to get away with. The grand denouement was telegraphed at least a 150 pages in advance and, although tragic for the victim, was utterly predictable and in keeping with the ordinary insanity of the life of the perpetrator. Yes, it is a taboo, but a banal one for all that. Made banal by its terrible ubiquity. This felt more like a moral tale about some profound illness in our society than the forensic exploration of a sick individual; but those potentially interesting threads that the author began picking at were never really pursued. About 50 pages from the end, it started to get interesting, but by then we were on fast-forward, with tantalising events rushing by in a blur.

The protagonist I found vapid, unlikeable and unsympathetic - yet not in the hypnotic sense of a Raskolnikov - so it was hard to care much what happened to him or even to those around him; united in a kind of shared stupidity and grand apathy, all gaining something from him and reluctant to give it up, no matter how extreme and deliberately offensive his behaviour. It was not so much his apparent evil, howsoever justified, that intrigued me, but the passive compliance of the supporting cast. That was truly troubling. Was that the author's intention?
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