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One Big Damn Puzzler Paperback – 1 Aug 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Aug 2005
£54.80 £16.66
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (1 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385609884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385609883
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,856,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'A wonderful novel, written with great humour and a rare generosity of spirit.' - Deborah Moggach 'Wonderfully funny, original and moving. Harding has knife-sharp observation, immaculate timing and the guts to take his story as far as it will go.' - Helen Dunmore 'Underpinned with great love and humanity. A wonderful book.' - The Times 'Very funny...truly memorable...the third ace in Harding's hand is the ending of the book...it's quite stunning.' - Daily Express"

Book Description

Hitting the funny bone and touching the heart, the glorious new novel by the author of What We Did On Our Holiday... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
My daughter was given this book for her birthday and spent so much time laughing out loud that I had to read it too. I absolutely loved it - the descriptions of the island, the islanders, and their beliefs and customs really drew me in. I want to go to Tuma when I die! William's experiences with his OCD give you a flavour of what sufferers go through, without it taking over the story. I'm not really a Shakespeare scholar, but I spotted a few bits of plot that looked familiar. I want my friend with an English degree to read the book next so that she can tell me all the references to Shakespeare plays that I missed. How nerdish is that?!
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Format: Paperback
As soon as William Hardt lands on the beautiful pacific island, determined to right all the wrongs of his countrymen, you know how things will end up for the natives. It's a bittersweet tale that left me smiling but also sad. Its a book that will make you laugh out loud. The characters are very well realised and the islanders pidgin dialect is infectious! This is a lovely book to read if you have a long journey ahead of you as it sucks you right in and you never get bored. Its an easy read the gives you something to think about - the arrogance of western civilisation, the americanisation of the globe, death, life, love and the importance of a nice pair of green sling back shoes!
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Format: Paperback
What a fantastic read this was. I had thought it was going to be humorous book about books - and it is - but it's so much more too. The story of how the islanders lose their innocence is full of originality and is witty, dramatic, deep, funny, sad, magical and at times also grotesque. All of this blends together into perfect mixture of a tale that will make you re-think your ideas about the meaning of life. It made me laugh out loud but at other times I was moved to tears. It's also caused me to feel the need to read more Shakespeare, although it's by no means necessary to do so in order to enjoy this book. This is one of my best reads so far this year and I highly recommend it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Love, loss, Shakespeare, anthropology, subterfuge, globalism, language, obsessive-compulsive disorder and cheerful communal defecation - really, does a book need anything more? Having just finished One Big Damn Puzzler, a novel by John Harding in which a remote South Pacific island plays host to an uptight American lawyer intent on righting the past wrongs of his countrymen, I'm inclined to say not. It's common for hyperbolic reviews to claim a book 'will make you laugh and cry', but One Big Damn Puzzler did absolutely that, and sometimes in the most unexpected of ways.

The title comes from Hamlet, of course. If you don't remember Shakespeare writing that line, that's because this Hamlet has been translated into the local pidgin English by Managua, the enigmatic tribesman whose literacy (and cunning) gives him the edge over his fellow islanders. The startling ways in which the islanders use their form of English to render certain concepts is often played for laughs, although never in a way that patronises the speakers; often, it's the islanders' language itself that seems to draw us into the book and creates the world in which the events take place - rather as Florence's idiolect did in the last of Harding's novels that I read, Florence & Giles. The vivid simplicity of their language, and the way that words are turned about to give them a whole new perspective, seems to echo the islanders' lives and beliefs: sometimes familiar, sometimes incomprehensible, and sometimes simply working to a different, but entirely valid, logic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I remember reading an article in The Guardian recently about books that make you laugh out loud. I would add One Big Damn Puzzler to that list, I'm a big fan of PG Wodehouse and parts of this book reminded me of some of Plum's farcical plots - there is even a pig! There is a deeper, more bittersweet side to the story too though, if you have a dry eye after reading the islanders' version of the Yorick scene in Hamlet then you're made of sterner stuff then I am.
It's a book that owes as much to The Tempest as to Hamlet and references other Shakespeare plays too but if you're not a fan of the Bard don't let that put you off. The memorable characters, humour and compassion combine into a delight of a book I highly recommend.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book starts well but has tedious longeurs which prevent you getting caught up in it. Long descriptions of OCD are tedious and one is not sure if the author is drawing parallels between OCD and strange native customs. The humour derived from an attempt by a native islander to translate Shakespeare into his language is lost in a polemic about the perils of modern life.
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Format: Paperback
I picked this book up on a whim yesterday and I'm glad I did. I read it all day up to midnight becasue I had to know how it finished. Humour is mixed with the more serious messages about capitalism and war, as well as sadness. All the characters are well drwn and I grew attached to many, especially the she-boys and of course the Hamlet re-writer himself, Managua. Yes there is toilet humour but if that is all see in the book it is wasted on you.
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