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The Forrests Paperback – 11 Apr 2013

3.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (11 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140883149X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408831496
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Perkins is an extraordinary writer ... The Forrests is a novel to be savoured (Daisy Goodwin Sunday Times)

Dexterously communicates some of life's less-syncopated rhythms ... Funny, painful and utterly mesmerising (Independent on Sunday)

The novel I would most like to press into my friends' suitcases this summer ... kept me up reading late into the night (Helen Brown Daily Telegraph)

Literary fiction at its most luscious (Mail on Sunday)

Brilliant and differently boundary smashing ... An ambitious family saga flooded with light and life (Julie Myerson, New Statesman Books of the Year)

Exhilarating: intensely attentive, funny, lyrical and moving (Kate Summerscale, Daily Telegraph Books of the Year)

Word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph this book accelerates into brilliance ... remarkable (Tom Sutcliffe BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review)

Extraordinary ... It is so sensitively rendered that you feel every detail, down to the blades of grass that grazes the children's knees ... It seems, in these pages, as if Perkins has a special gift for capturing a child's inner universe, but the talent extends itself as the novel progresses to the incandescent joys and devastations of teenage love, the compromises of mid-life and the tragedy of old age ... a magnificent novel (Arifa Akba Independent)

Perkins writes vividly and often beautifully ... an intelligent and perceptive novel (Allan Massie Scotsman)

Book Description

An extraordinary literary novel, this is prize-winning author Emily Perkins's greatest work to date

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an odd book. At the outset, it promises the scrutiny of an idiosyncratic family, the way the individuals in that family develop, reproduce, age and, in some cases, die. It concentrates mostly on the minutiae of their lives, and jumps across time and space with alacrity. I could have done with a family tree, as I found it hard to know who was who, even, or especially - as offspring arrive - towards the end. I could also have done with more 'in depth' characterisation. I can't blame the author for this as her novel seems to have been deliberately constructed to provide a subtle, incredibly detailed montage of the superficial. It's not that her characters lack depth so much as are out of their depth; and the author clearly doesn't want us to be privy to what they don't know themselves, or if they do, don't like to think about. It feels as if, being closed off to each other, they have to remain closed off to us, too. Their behaviour is examined with searing precision; but we learn remarkably little of the thought processes behind it.

Essentially, the book is a series of moving tableaux, some in extraordinary detail, of episodes of ordinariness, punctuated by only occasional drama. I was left knowing more about the Forrest family as a disparate entity, thinly spread across two continents, stumbling through life, achieving little, than about any one of them as individuals. Maybe this was simply how they were. It certainly reflected their family dynamic of making less of a mark on the world than on each other.

There is little joy in this story, and a lot of quiet desperation.
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Format: Paperback
The Forrests' is a clever mixture of family saga and the story of the life of Dorothy Forrest. It's also a book which seems to celebrate the ordinary and everyday in life, there's no major story arch, just the snap shot stories of a woman's life.

As we follow her from her childhood, and the slightly dysfunctional family that she comes from, we are drawn into her life through snapshots. Yet interestingly Dorothy isn't the omnipresent narrator or even the main protagonist that you might assume, that role often passes onto other characters. These are mainly her siblings like Eve, some who don't really appear in the book themselves, or like Daniel a boy who her mother `took in'. We often learn more about Dorothy when she is described by others or appears in everyone else's consciousness. It's one of those books which rely on what is `unsaid' about people and their actions leaving the reader to do a lot of the work.

I am not averse to making an effort with a novel at all, actually sometimes the books where the author allows the reader a freedom to move within the story and almost create some sort of collaboration between writer and reader can be my favourites. You feel trusted. However, my main issue with `The Forrests' is that there was almost too much effort to work out just what the heck was going on. Paragraphs and sections of the novel can shift viewpoint without you realising who is then talking. You also have small situation set pieces which, as the book is so much `a celebration of a normal life' if you will, seems to be in the book for no reason, they are just another event in Dorothy, Eve's or Daniel's life.
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Format: Paperback
I listened to a review of this book on radio recently, and caught the review half way through. But from the moment I tuned in, I knew I had to read this book. I have not been disappointed. The writing is utterly beautiful; one minute focusing on the minutia of every day life, and the next panning out to years in just a few lines. I don't like reviews which tell you the plot line, so it is enough to say that this is a study of people over the journey of a life. It is a work of literary fiction, but enough happens that you are not just reading a character study. It is a saga, but not quite. The real joy is that you go through life with the main character Dorothy. It evokes very real pathos. I think anyone who has seen something of life will really engage with this story and appreciate its delicacies.
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