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A Division of the Light Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012

3.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: riverrun (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857386352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857386359
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,724,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A masterful novel' Melvyn Bragg. (Melvyn Bragg)

''a moral fable for our time, sharp in its analysis of our failure of emotions and our diffidence and self-serving ... a novel of lasting importance' Carlisle News and Star. (Carlisle News and Star)

'A peculiar, brilliant novel; the ending is extraordinary' Saga.

'As a work of art this novel is stylish and confidently framed - a compelling composition' Writer's Hub.

(Writer's Hub)

'A strange, brilliant work' Kazuo Ishiguro. (Kazuo Ishiguro)

'An enigmatic novel that transports the reader somewhere unexpected' New Books Magazine. (New Books Magazine)

'an extra layer of deviousness' DJ Taylor, Independent.

'intriguing' Big Issue.

'If I was a Booker judge, I'd put this on the longlist' Farm Lane Books.

(Farm Lane Books)

'Burns captures the photographer's obsession with form and light quite brilliantly and the story gets appealingly strange and dark ... technically it's a very fine piece of writing' Bookbag. (Bookbag)

'Burns' description of the intricate and delicate sword play of seduction is suspenseful and compelling' Red Online. (Red Online)

Engrossing, dense and unsettling, Burns's quiet horror is ingenious' Monocle magazine. (Monocle magazine)

It is unusual to see characters in such a clear, unrelenting light, with no airbrushing, and the casual cruelty of human relationships, is artfully and unflinchingly depicted' TLS. (TLS)

''The crisis is beautifully set up, in a pattern of imagery that both advances the plot and functions in its own right, with a control and cumulative power that make the novel compelling' Fiction Uncovered. (Fiction Uncovered)

About the Author

Christopher Burns is the author of five previous novels and a collection of short stories. He lives with his wife near the western edge of the English Lake District.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This novel is exquisitely written - a masterclass in understated narrative. It's a clever book and, for the reader, a difficult book. A Division of the Light is not about plot - more about ideas - and the characters move on wires manipulated by the necessity of developing those ideas, playing out the central premise of the novel.

Are our lives controlled - are events 'meant' - or are we at the mercy of random forces? When Alice Fell decides to walk down a different street and is mugged, she is photographed by Gregory Pharaoh, also there by chance on his way home from an assignment. It is the beginning of an obsession, and a collision with the elemental forces that recur like motifs throughout the book. The patterns in the narrative echo the patterns of light Gregory plays with in his photographs. How much of what we see is merely illusion? How do we know what is true?

This is a difficult feat for a writer to bring off - a novel of ideas, a narrative of patterns, dependent on the interplay of three characters who are essentially unlikeable. Alice is a manipulative ball-breaker who uses her sexual power over men and always stops short of commitment. Her boyfriend Thomas is so lacking in self-confidence and motivation he has made Alice the whole of his world and in so doing, undermined any security he had left. Gregory is selfish, egotistical, dispassionate, used to getting exactly what he wants, and holding the world at the other end of his camera lens. His values are pictorial values.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A highly intelligent, serious and thought-provoking novel, written with skill and restraint, though with problematic characters and a somewhat unsatisfying narrative, `A Division of the Light' is Lakeland-based writer Christopher Burns's fifth book.

The bulk of the story involves a burgeoning relationship between successful fifty-something widowed photographer Gregory Pharoah, and a much younger woman, Alice Fell (and yep, those names sure do have meaning).
They meet when Pharaoh witnesses Alice being knocked down (`like a felled tree') and robbed in a London street. Pharoah not only helps Alice, but also takes shots of the incident. He is attracted to her, wants to take more shots of her, and is glad when she makes contact. From the beginning we are told, clunkily perhaps, that Personal Change, that great driver of novels, is on the way for Pharoah. He could do with it - conforming to most of what we are told by writers about photographers (and ageing, successful, single men), he is arrogant, self-centred, emptyish, interested only in surfaces and the briefest of relationships. Alice too is of a type - she believes she is special, has a `need to be unlike other people' and is a grasper of chances, a wannabe-muse, a woman whose ambitions are realised through dalliances with professional and intelligent (if also boring and self-centred) men, and seen, the author tells us, as `mysterious and exciting' (though to the reader she appears a shallow fake and Pharaoh's straightforward, disapproving daughter Cassie sees through her in a minute): she also is a firm believer in fate and `patterns'.
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By Eleanor TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is something compelling about this novel, something, despite the often ponderous and unsubtle prose, that made me want to keep reading. I think this something resided in the characters of Gregory Pharaoh and Alice Fell, two detached manipulative people brought together by a mugging. Alice is the victim, and Gregory's first instinct as witness is to photograph her as she lies on the ground, it is this episode which, as the novel tells us, will irrevocably change Gregory's life.
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Format: Hardcover
First things first! I know the author of this book. He has written five previous novels so I thought,not unreasonably, and not having read him previously, it was about time I read something Christopher had written. So my introduction to Christopher Burns writing begins with A Division of the light. The first thing to say that it is beautifully written, Burns plays with his reader like a matador might play with his bull. There times when I thought that this was a deeply erotic novel, but without any shades of grey.
If you are looking for an action packed adventure, then look elsewhere, you won't find thrills, vicarious or otherwise, here. Burns draws his characters with the skill of an old master.
There are flaws however; I didn't "like" any of the characters, with the exception of the photographer's daughter who I thought I could gradually grow to love, given the chance.
Very little happens in this really excellent novel. Well, there are two explosions I suppose, the first being a metaphor for the second. Burns descriptions of the area in which he (Burns) lives are not only accurate but also evocative. It made me want to visit the locations described.
I found the end somewhat unconvincing; the actions of Gregory were out of character for the person previously so carefully drawn. That said, what do I know? At the end of the novel Gregory stares into a mirror - what does he see? What would any of us see if observing ourselves in the same mirror? Robert Burns in "Ode to a louse" had something to say on this subject. Two Burns? Two explosions? Burns and introspection define the power of this novel.
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