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English Weather Paperback – 9 Nov 2000

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New edition edition (9 Nov. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575400617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575400610
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,104,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

An unforgettable novel following the fortunes of one man through the memories of those who loved or fought with him, in an England changing faster than the English weather.

About the Author

SALES POINTS ¿Ingenious and absorbing . . . a compelling book which offers a moving and subtle view of late 20th century English life¿ The Times ¿A virtuoso performance¿ Sunday Telegraph ¿Thanks to Ferguson¿s skill, one can¿t help feeling sorry not to have met him. The result is exciting as the various lives coincide and connect before diverging once again¿ Time Out ¿Fiction often traces a life from beginning to end. This novel reverses the pattern, introducing a fascinating, flawed character, Greg Harris . . . Let Ferguson button-hole you: he is a terrific storyteller¿ Mail on Sunday ¿Neil Ferguson writes with unfaltering conviction and a refreshing lack of cynicism¿ New Statesman ¿English Weather is a happy surprise . . . and well worth buying. it is enjoyable, smart, well-written . . . a terrific British novel¿ Spectator

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I very rarely post reviews on Amazon, but feel compelled to do so in this instance. English Weather is, quite simply, one of the best works of fiction that I've read in many years. Looking at the life of one person through the eyes of those whose lives he touched, it begins with his tragic death and works backwards to his birth during the Second World War. We see snapshots of an extraordinary life as seen by his friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Brilliant and well-executed. Do yourself a favour and read this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have never come across a book written in such a clever way, and it takes a while to realise that it is like a kaleidoscope, a man's life put across by different people whose life he has crossed at differnt times and changed in some way or another, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad, without him even realising. It is told backwards starting with his death and ending with his birth, both in prison. What made me think most about this book is how all of us are different people according to who we are with, and how we may have unwittingly influenced those around us, even in our childhood. How we are remembered by others is all part of a jigsaw puzzle that makes us an individual. The book also covers recent British history, the war, the hippy era, the 70s and 80s. An underrated, brilliant book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've thought about this book a lot, while I was reading it and after I'd finished. It's the most original thing I've read in ages: the story of a man's life, told from the end to the beginning, with each chapter narrated by an entirely different character - young, old, male, female, educated or not. It's an amazing ventriloquist's act. It's very subtle, with the main character appearing in all sorts of different ways, often quite distantly, but always having an effect on the character narrating the story. The narrators he's chosen span the period from the Second World War to the nineties (but in reverse), so the book is partly about how the country has changed over that time.

What I keep finding myself thinking about is what the main character means. It says on the (annoying) back-cover blurb that Greg Harris is an ordinary bloke, but he clearly isn't, and isn't meant to be. For one thing, a couple of the narrators say that he looks like Jesus. I wonder whether he represents the spirit of that generation - formed in the war, crushed in the fifties, blossoming in the sixties and then compromised and betrayed in the seventies and eighties. But I don't know.

The fact that each of the eight narrators has only one chapter, each done in a totally different style, means that you keep having the regret of leaving behind people or voices you've become attached to, and then the disorientation of meeting someone new, whom you might not like. My favourites were Petros Tecklemarion, Arthur Morris and Violet Hoskin.

Neil Ferguson was my writing teacher at the City Lit in London for two terms, back in 2005. I've read a couple of his other books, but didn't read this one until now because someone else on the course said that all the characters in it are horrible. They aren't at all.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was one of my book club choices, so was ordered for this purpose. The book was delivered on time and in the condition in which it was advertised. A really fascinating read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9ddd8258) out of 5 stars 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ddf3414) out of 5 stars A Gimmick that Works 26 Jun. 2000
By Mary VanderKam - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Maybe I was in a mood to read an English novel. I bought English Weather in a used bookstore in Hay-on-Wye during a week long stay in Herefordshire, England. I had read Persuasion during our week of travel and was delighted to have some of this novel also set in Bath with references to Jane Austen.
English Weather tells the story of Gregory Harris, literally from death to birth, from the perspective of eight characters in his life, ranging from an Eritrean refugee, a boxing coach, a Salvation Army children's home worker, and an old school friend turned lover. The settings of the chapters range from jail cells to manor houses, from San Francisco to eastern Turkey, from World War II to the1990s. The formats are diaries, letters, interviews, and reminiscences. It's a gimmick, but it works!
One character says, "The thing I've always liked about books is that when you're in the middle of one you can forget where you are, that you are in prison and miserable. You're somewhere else--in another country even. You find yourself crying about something that happened to people you don't even know, who are completely different to you. And while you're reading, the end is already there in your own hand waiting to happen."
English Weather did this for me--a day spent in the company of eight very different people who knew Gregory Harris. I am left wanting to know this admirable, but enigmatic man better.
But the title? Why is this novel called English Weather? I am puzzled.
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