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The Descendants Paperback – 5 Jan 2012
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"Gripping and funny... A brave and intelligent novel" (Sunday Telegraph)
"Shockingly irreverent and funny while exerting that all-important emotional tug... A well-plotted, unexpectedly twisting saga" (Guardian)
"Kaui Hart Hemmings' assured touch and her fine grasp of the absurd ensures that this novel steers a deliciously scenic route between heartbreak and hilarity" (Daily Mail)
"An assured and subtle writer. The islands rise lush and untamed in the background" (Observer)
"A darkly funny debut...a sharp story of emotional and sexual awakening in idyllic Hawaii" (Metro)
Now a major motion picture starring George ClooneySee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
I really enjoyed this, despite the fact that it revolves around an irreversible coma - Joanie as revealed is so unlikeable that her fate never really depresses you. The daughters (one 10 and one 17) are finely drawn (as is Alex' sort-of boyfriend) and as for Matt, just when you think he is most whipped, he surprises you with a show of grit.
I would never normally read a novel like this - not big on comic novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and the revelation about the business connections in the middle of the book was absolutely compulsive. I would definitely read something else by this author.
Though this could be considered quite a heavy subject the book is written with a lot of good humour, though I do not usually laugh whilst reading this book did encourage a few giggles - something that very rarely happens with me. At the same time the book has a lot of heart, as though the main character is frustratingly unemotional you do get a clear feeling that to him life has suddenly changed violently and he is not sure how to deal with it. The characters are all rendered fantastically, especially his unusual daughter Scottie who continued to make me laugh throughout. The core of the story is adapting to change and that families will survive in one way or another. Fabulously well written.
As such, I knew what was happening throughout but that didn't detract.
Matt King lives in Hawaii, a lawyer, with land assets handed down from previous generations. His wife, a beautiful and outgoing thrill-seeker, has been in an accident and is in a coma.
Matt narrates his story, as he struggles over how to tell his two daughters, one 10 and one a rebellious teenager at boarding school that their mother won't be waking up. That is where the story starts really, how Matt and his daughters try to cope and help each other, as other secrets pop to the surface.
Its actually very funny. Scottie, the precocious 10-year-old is adorable in her language and emergent teenage tendencies, her older sister and especially her friend Sid catalysts and heart for much of the story. It's a simple and quite short story of a family coming to terms with a tragedy but very entertaining and heartfelt.
There's also a Clooney in-joke for anyone who's seen the film!
A highly enjoyable recommended read.
As it's written in the first person present-tense ('I say this, I do that'), you find yourself identifying with the central character pretty quickly and experiencing his emotions along with him, and getting to know his daughters at the same time as he does, which is really enjoyable.
It's not the most gripping novel in the world but it's certainly entertaining enough to satisfy a need for a relaxing holiday book.
His daughters are growing up, but not in the way he imagined from the dstance of the office, his wife has secrets, and he is not as helpless to fate as he once thought.
The writing is wonderful, pace matching the setting which is integral to the book. Hawaii is written about with love and relaxed realism. The author is never tempted down the clichéd trying-too-hard route of extensive passages in pidgin and the matter-of-factness is engaging.
Perhaps most importantly, the story takes no enormous twists, but frequently when you think you can see the end result of a set of actions, the course of the story guides away from the obvious, giving the book the feeling of something which greew naturally and of its own accord, rather than pretty words hanging from a scaffold of plot.