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Half of the Human Race Hardcover – 3 Feb 2011
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`By jove, it's a corker' --Tatler, January 11, 2011
'Not only is Connie Callaway, one of his two principals, part of the sisterhood of the Suffragette movement, the other, Will Maitland, is a championship cricketer who operates in an all-male sporting environment. To portray two such gender-specific worlds equally convincingly is a tall order, but Quinn carries it off with aplomb. His impeccable eye for detail, perfect pitch for the nuances of dialogue, and the quiet, understated passion that enlivens his writing - all seen to good effect in his debut novel The Rescue Man - combine here to make his considerable achievement seem effortless... There are also vivid descriptions of women's prisons, of the trenches of the First World War, of the sweeping-away of the complacency of the Edwardian age. Quinn's grasp of history is acute, but it is his ambition - and his ability to deliver on it - that impresses most. The Rescue Man won prizes. Half of the Human Race should follow in its footsteps and establish its author as one of our most impressive novelists' --Independent,
'His integration of the historical background into the lives of his protagonists (the suffrage movement, Edwardian professional cricket, the experience of the trenches) is admirably done, with everything stitched into a seamless tapestry. The rhythm of rejection and understanding in Connie and Will's relationship is mapped out with care and precision. The permutations between them and sad, lonely Tam are explored with such exemplary meticulousness that you can't help but be touched' --The Sunday Times,
'This is only Anthony Quinn's second novel, but you would never guess it from the expert way he marshals his material, telling a human story in a literate, intelligent way... If the cricket scenes bring a nostalgic smile to the face, the real guts of the book can be found in the character of Connie. She is sprightly, impulsive, independent-minded... Her passion for justice never stifles her capacity for intellectual self-doubt and emotional tenderness. You really care what happens to her. Half of the Human Race is not just an exhilarating love story, bur a thoughtful, well-crafted novel that can be recommended to lovers of cricket, smoking or Jane Austen - not necessarily in that order' --Daily Telegraph,
'Half of the Human Race is the sort of novel one presses on a friend in a spirit of happy envy, confident of the fictional treat that lies ahead of them' --Evening Standard,
`Captivating, thought-provoking and compelling.' --Easy Living
`This beautifully constructed novel imagines a romance between a cricketer and a suffragette.' --The Observer
`Both as a historical novel and as the story of a love affair Half of the Human Race is a credible and compelling book.'
`Male authors do not always succeed with novels in which the central character is a woman, but Anthony Quinn has portrayed Connie in subtle shades. He is equally convincing with his male character'
`This is a moving and compelling novel that has the potential to become a successful film.'
`excellent and surprising book.'
`A wonderfully rich sense of time and place is evoked.'
`Quinn's subtle historical scene-setting is painterly but never clich�éd.'
`The final section of the book covers the war years and it is here that the writing really gathers pace, with Quinn hitting his stride in some truly heart-stopping battle scenes.'
`The oft-described horror of trench warfare is envisioned with a fresh eye and a keen ear for the many different voices thrown together in a fighting company, and at times it is possible to forget that this is fiction rather than a first-hand account.'
`A thoroughly absorbing and moving novel and it is testament to the author's adaptability and energy'
--The Sunday Times
`Few books boast a suffragette heroine and a professional cricket hero but Anthony Quinn's second novel pulls off such a strange pairing because it is old-fashioned in a very good way... Quinn memorably foregrounds the humanity of the characters... in his novel's historical sweep and tells their stories wonderfully' --Metro
A captivating and engrossing new novel on the Suffragette movement, county cricket and the First World War by the prize-winning Anthony Quinn.See all Product description
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Category: Historical, Romance
Synopsis: Constance is a suffragette with ambitions to become a surgeon and a deep aversion to following her sister’s footsteps into domesticity. Will is the rising star of county cricket, whose values are far more ‘traditional’. When the two fall in love, each finds their views of the world irrevocably shaken at their foundations. However, with war on the horizon and British society clinging to the ideals that are about to be torn apart, will their affection be able to overcome the gulf of circumstance that separates them?
When I read the synopsis of this book, I thought it had the potential to be predictable and was expecting Connie and Will to cast away all of their previous values without a backward glance and swoon into each other’s arms. However, I could not have been more wrong; the change that takes place in the characters is gradual and realistic. The romance at the novel’s centre has a great deal of depth; it acts as a microcosm that perfectly captures the tensions within a society suspended between past and present.
The relationship between Connie and Will is unpredictable with a number of twists and turns that kept me in suspense. My internal monologue was running something along the lines of Okay, they are definitely going to get together now…or maybe not…definitely now…wait, maybe they’ll never get together? Oh, hold on…
However, as much as I loved the complex romance at the story’s heart, I enjoyed the side plots just as much, such as the buried emotional difficulties of Will’s cricket mentor Tam. The plot had a variety that kept me intrigued, with its contrasting settings and time periods, plus a tendency to switch from amusing to agonising within moments. I felt as if I had experienced the entire emotional spectrum by the final pages!
Connie was, of course, my favourite character in the book. She is the classic ‘strong female lead’ but without having an impenetrable persona as can sometimes be the case with this trope. Her anxieties and vulnerabilities mean that she never fails to be relatable as well as admirable. In fact, a similar ambiguity and complexity surrounds every character and engaged me entirely with their stories. The only character I did not like was Olivia, Connie’s sister; I wanted her to at least slightly compromise her old-fashioned viewpoints by the end. However, perhaps it was more realistic that Quinn kept her standing rigidly beside them. After all, some people never change.
"It didn’t matter how close you were to someone, people would always be a mystery to one another."
Read if: you love the idea of a historical romance with absorbing depth.
Will Maitland, from a comfortable background with a stuck-up mother and a friendly younger sister, is a budding county cricketer under the tutelage of his hero, Andrew Tamberlain (Tam as he is known to his friends). Connie, on holiday with her family, meets Will at a cricket match she attends with her adored younger brother Fred and cousin Louis. Until the sudden death of her father, leaving his shocked family in an unexpectedly impecunious state, she had been studying medicine but had to give up to enable Fred to continue his studies. Will is a traditionalist whose views, from Connie's perspective, are too restricting even though she is deeply attracted to him. Connie is distinctly modern, a suffragette whose militant actions are abhorrent to Will. Indeed, there were times when Connie seemed so much more spirited and alive than Will that I wondered why she'd fallen for him at all.
The characters are generally well-drawn, with some convincing supporting roles - Tam, and Brigstock, an artist friend of Connie's, and even Will's mother with her snobbish disapproval of Connie and her refusal when they subsequently meet to acknowledge that they have met before. I have given it 4 stars rather than 5 though because for most of the story where Connie was concerned I felt like an onlooker who never really knew how Connie was feeling or why she chose some of the paths she trod. In this respect I disagree with some of the press reviews (set out on Amazon's hardcover page) that found the author equally convincing whether writing about male or female characters.
One or two of the things that happened seemed rather predictable, but even so it's a page-turner full of twists and turns, a story that could equally end either way. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a good yarn with an unusual love story at its centre.
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Most recent customer reviews
I really like Anthony Quinn novels and this shares the sense of place and character, and the rich ical detail, but adds a very moving love story