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I Know This Much is True (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – 1 Apr 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 553 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st ReganBooks/HarperPerennial Ed edition (April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060987561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060987565
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.4 x 3.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (553 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,026,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘A triumph of simple beauty’
Time

‘I Know This Much Is True never grapples with anything less than life’s biggest questions… a modern-day Dostoyevsky’
New York Times

‘Every now and then a book comes along that sets new standards for writers and readers alike. Wally Lamb’s latest novel is stunning – and even that might be an understatement’
Associated Press

‘Lamb creates a nuanced picture of a flawed but decent man. And the questions that permeate the novel… contribute to a fully developed and triumphantly resolved exploration of one man’s suffering and redemption’
Publishers Weekly

‘A modern Greek tragedy… [Lamb’s] success is to present this with terrific readability, tenderness, optimism and, most surprisingly, wit… The hallmark of the book is fine writing and a commendable depth of characterisation’
The Times

‘Wally Lamb’s achievement is to force you to feel Dominick’s pain… the events in Dominick’s everyday nightmare are presented with a sneaky simplicity which generates emotional tension’
Daily Telegraph

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

“When you’re the sane brother of a schizophrenic identical twin, the tricky thing about saving yourself is the blood it leaves on your hands- the little inconvenience of the look-alike corpse at your feet. And if you’re into both survival of the fittest 'and' being your brother’s keeper – if you’ve promised your dying mother – then say so long to sleep and hello to the middle of the night.”

Dominick Birdsey’s entire life has been compromised and constricted by Thomas, the paranoid schizophrenic twin he both deeply loves and resents, and by the past they shared with their adoptive father and their long-suffering mother. Born in the waning moments of 1949 and the opening minutes of 1950, the twins are physical mirror images who grow into distinct yet connected entities. From childhood, Dominick fightts for separation and wholeness in a house of fear.

But Dominick’s talent for survival comes at enormous personal cost. And it will be put to the ultimate test when his brother commits an unthinkableact that threatens the tenuous balance of both his and Dominick’s life. To save himself, Dominick must confront not only the pain of his past but the dark secrets he has locked within himself, and the sins of his ancestors. He will have to search for the courage and love to forgive, and finally to rebuild himself beyond the haunted shadow of his twin.

Set against the panoply of twentieth-century America, this deeply moving and satisfying novel brings to light humanity’s most profound needs and fears: our desire for love and acceptance, our struggle to survive. Joyous, mystical and exquisitely written, 'I Know This Much Is True' will leave no reader untouched.

ACCLAIM FOR BESTSELLING PHENOMENON WALLY LAMB:

“A triumph of simple beauty”
TIME

“'I Know This Much Is True' never grapples with anything less than life’s biggest questions – a modern-day Dostoyevsky”
NEW YORK TIMES

“Every now and then a book comes along that sets new standards for writers and readers alike. Wally Lamb’s latest novel is stunning – and even that might be an understatement”
ASSOCIATED PRESS

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I first read the synopsis of this book while browsing in a bookstore and for some silly reason I never bought it there and then. I was unable to get the book out of my head and it took me almost six months to find it again as couldn't remember the authors name, thank heaven I finally found it.
This book is beyond doubt my favorite book ever. On finishing this book the total feeling of satisfaction was undeniable. I've never heard of anyone say that, and I've never used that terminology before but it was exactly that - Satisfying. The story is so true to life and the way it was told encapsulated me in his life.
I disagree with the reviewer who complained about the amount of hardship in this book, welcome to real life. When I read this book I had no real trauma or tragedy in my life but it appealed to me. A few years later the amount of sadness I have seen has just confirmed the sentiment of this book. There is still a lot of enjoyment in this story and I loved the ending. I too am like the other reviewer who misses it when it's not on the shelf and I lend it to everyone in order to share the enjoyment of the book. In fact I have just treated myself to a second copy that I can have at all times while my other copy is on lend.
Finally to the person who read this book in one day and did not enjoy it. I find it hard to imagine reading 900 pages in one day and being able to feel the true emotion, and understand the true greatness of this book. It would be like drinking an exquisite bottle of wine while suffering with the cold, no sense of smell or taste and missing out on the enjoyment.
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Format: Paperback
I had never read anything by Wally Lamb before picking up this book at my local High St shop here in London. It was a cold, damp day, with rain and sleet forecast for later in the week and, as it was just before the New Year, I had the week off from work. I curled up with this book on the Tuesday afternoon and was completely hooked by the time the elusive sun actually set for the night.
This is a wonderful book. The characters are believable and, even more important, their predicaments are real. I note that one reviewer commented on the number of tragedies faced by these people --- in my experience, that's real life. Also, I think Lamb did a brilliant job of portraying the ups and downs life offers.
I was gripped until the very last page. And I was moved to tears by the conclusion.
This is a wonderful book. I recommend it in the highest possible terms.
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Format: Hardcover
My wife encouraged me to read this 900-page book with the words: "you will not regret this". She was right. The intensity of emotion with which the book starts is overwhelming from the first page, and it only gets better from then on. On the surface, this is a book about the relationship between two lost souls, the narrator and his schizophrenic twin. The account of the suffering brought onto the family by the mentally ill brother's self-mutilation is not only realistic and compelling, but also surprisingly charged with universal accessibility. At a deeper level, the author courageously explores the challenging psychological nuances of grief and confusion. It is the mark of Lamb's great empathy and spirituality, that we can root for an angry and desperate man who tries to alienate himself from his environment and the reader. The plot weaves in the story of the narrator's Sicilian grandfather with masterful ability. The small "detour" Domenico's story takes us to never feels like an unnecessary trip. Instead it expands the power of the emerging symbols of the novel : monkeys and rabbits. However, the special gift contained in this book is the author's spiritual journey that yields a unique experience to the receptive reader. The toxic nature of anger, the process of change through therapy are two of the many lessons to appreciate here. When I finished the book, I found myself wishing to become "True" man.
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Format: Paperback
When I first heard about I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE on Oprah a couple of years ago I avoided it for two reasons, the latter being the important one. I knew all too well much of the subject matter, as it possessed my father; as close to me as the fictional character's brother was to him. But when I finished reading this literally 900-page novel a week ago, all I could think was that this was its cental flaw: IT WAS TOO SHORT.
Wally Lamb, a genius of a novelist, has written a momument to love, healing, self-awareness and the human spirit that has only been equalled, I can only guess, by some of the best work of the 20th century--including Joyce, Melville, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison and Hemingway. I cannot imagine anything ever written short of the world's religious texts surpassing this. The central story is of a man named Thomas Birdsey and his struggle to answer with honor the Biblical question Cain asked God--"Am I my brother's keeper?"--via taking care of his schizophrenic twin, and his own struggle against the dying of the light of his own sanity in the process. Lamb manages to teach more lessons about the nature of life, family, power, abuse, pain, wounds, healing, forgiveness, spirit, love and epiphany through the flowering of Thomas' consciousness in this novel--not to mention the architectue of schizophrenia itself, and how it serves as the ideal albeit frightening metaphor for our entire Age--than any DOZEN self-help books, tear-jerker movies and trips to Church or the therapist that I could ever think of. Lamb does not tear apart the the fabric of modern life or maliciously diagnose the diseases affecting it for the manipulative purpose of creating characters and a convincing storyline. He sings modern life. He creates a symphony with modern life.
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