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The Facts of Life: A Novel Paperback – 1 Jun 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket; Reprint edition (1 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743463439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743463430
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.2 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 682,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Jonathan Lethem author of "Motherless Brooklyn" I won't bother saying Graham Joyce deserves to find a wide audience in America; rather I think the American audience deserves to find him. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

An extraordinary evocation of an extraordinary family in WWII England by an award-winning author. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 14 Jan. 2003
Format: Hardcover
A psychic matriarch, seven daughters and one magical boy hold center stage in Graham Joyce's latest novel, The Facts of Life, a work situated comfortably somewhere between the best mainstream fiction and the subtlest works of fantasy. Be it magical realism or literary horror, the key ingredients here, as with all of Joyce's works, are characters you can reach out and touch. And they touch you right back.

Set in during and post-WWII Coventry, England, the novel opens with "wayward ... fey" Cassie Vine and the bundle in her arms, Frank, whom she fails to give away to a prospective foster mother. Returning home to her mother, Martha and her six sisters, Cassie triggers a discussion that will set the tone and struggle for the rest of the novel. As Cassie herself "is the last girl on Earth fit to raise a child," Martha and her daughters agree that Frank should be raised by the entire clan.

Passed from Martha and Aunt Beatie Vine's own care to Aunt Una and Uncle Tom's farm, to his twin aunts Evelyn and Ina, it becomes clear that Frank is special and possessed of special abilities. Here at the farm, young Frank discovers the Man-Behind-The-Glass, a mysterious figure trapped in the Earth, constantly demanding that Frank bring him things.
Meanwhile, the secret of Frank's conception remains with Cassie, buried deep in the night that German bombers circled over Coventry dropping incendiary and explosive payloads until most of the city was leveled. Cassie, who is regularly possessed of "blue" periods during which she tends to wander far, must often leave Frank in the care of his more stable relatives, transferring him from household-to-household, including an experimental commune and a house with an active mortuary parlor in the back.
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Format: Hardcover
This beautiful writer gets better and better...I cant describe how this book works its magic. Its funny and dark in turns but it was easily the best book I've read in the last ten years. There are so many beautiful characters in this but more importantly you get the preciousness of life, the humour of life, the madness of family life. I have read Graham Joyce before and all very good to but this is on a different plane. Every page was a deep joy for me and I started reading it slowly as I got to the end because I didn't want it to end.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Feeling shocked and quite impotent at the sad news of the horribly premature death of Graham Joyce I sat down to read what I believe to be his finest book for a second time. Whether it is still his best work, they are all so damned good, is of course open to debate but what is for certain is that 'The Facts of Life' is a particularly well crafted piece of writing and story telling. As ever with Joyce's work, the characters are as beautifully drawn as the landscape they inhabit and the plot quickly grabs one's imagination making this a very difficult book to put down. Part ghost story, part fantasy and part social commentary/history, this novel, set largely in wartime and post war Coventry, includes - amongst many other aspects - some of the most vivid and harrowing descriptions of life in wartime Britain that I have ever read. With next year witnessing the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII the filming of this work would surely make a very fitting and lasting tribute to the memory of both the late, great Graham Joyce and the almost forgotten casualties of places like Coventry, Liverpool and - let's not forget - Dresden, from barely a lifetime ago. Perhaps politicians throughout the world would do well to read the author's account of the horrific bombing of Coventry, surely passed down via first hand local and family recollection, before glibly announcing yet another 'wave of air strikes'.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I live in Coventry so it was interesting to hear about various Coventry streets. I found this author because I had head that he had died. Never read books written by him before. Accurate details and a nice family story going from the night when Coventry was bombed to the ground until 1954.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Graham Joyce is a much under-rated writer in UK. He is a consummate storyteller whose books demand you stay up all night until you've finished. This intriguing novel is thought provoking, atmospheric and his novels linger in your mind long after you've finished. His sense of time and place, as always, is very powerful, leaving the reader feeling as though he has had an intimate glimpse into the past. He challenges common place perceptions of reality, morality and his characters' world is vividly portrayed.

Graham Joyce is a master storyteller. From the first page the reader is drawn into a world whose characters and story is the only reality worth pursuing. It's a delight to read!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another wonderfully written book from Graham Joyce. I've just found this author but have worked through most of his books. Eat book is different and yet all similar. I think this possibly my favourite.
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Format: Paperback
As another reviewer put it, this truly is a book to savour. One could, for instance, suitably chew on Godiva chocolate as the characters muse, sometimes hilariously, on Coventry's famed Lady Godiva.
I am enjoying re-reading it now, a year after I first encountered its truly alive Vine family. I find myself pausing at the end of lines wondering, "Just how did Graham Joyce do this?" He certainly has ears that hear all, and the dialogue seems like the people of Coventry actually speaking to us.
It is all a terrific accomplishment that will make you an instant fan of his.
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