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Poppy Shakespeare Paperback – 5 Mar 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (5 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747585849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747585848
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 262,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Poppy Shakespeare has that rare quality: the feel of a book that needed to be written ... It is bitterly, brutally funny and extraordinarily moving' Telegraph 'Catch-22 meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ... an electrifying debut ... surreal, raucous, infuriating and very funny' Guardian 'The characters, in all their bravado, pathos and absurdity, feel utterly true to life. It is a brave and original piece of work' Patrick McGrath 'Funny, lyrical and deeply affecting ... Seize this passionate, unsettling, accomplished debut with both hands' Spectator

About the Author

Clare Allan was the winner of the first Orange/Harpers short-story prize. She lives in London. This is her first novel.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Clare Allen's debut novel has been one of the best received debuts of the last year. Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book award, Longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction and favourite to win the Orange New Writers title, her novel about a Mental Health hospital in North London has struck a nerve with readers and critics alike.

It is told through the eyes of N, a self-confessed `dribbler' whose only ambition is never to be discharged. But when Poppy Shakespeare arrives sporting snakeskin heals and insisting she is not crazy N's routine life is thrown into chaos. Together they must prove that Poppy really isn't mad, but they are in a Cactch-22 situation: to prove she is sane she must pretend to be mad. What follows is a journey to the very heart of the bureaucratic hypocrisy of modern mental health care and a wry and terrifying liturgy on the impossibility of being an individual faced with the power of the system.

Comparisons to `Catch-22' and `One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest' have inevitably gushed from the pens of critics. There is certainly something of the surreal absurdity of Catch-22 here, although it is not as laugh-out-loud funny. In its potential ramifications for the perception of mental health care in Britain its legacy could be as great as `One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest'. The story is perfect for film adaptation, the characters fresh and instantly likeable. The story is written in N's vernacular dialect which takes a little getting used to but is used consistently well and N grows to become a wonderful anti-hero.

Poppy Shakespeare owes something to Clare Allen's own biography. Her eye for irony and well honed observations were learned during her own ten year stint in a mental-health day centre.
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Format: Hardcover
Poppy Shakespeare is that rare thing: a novel that fully lives up to its publisher's hype. It is engaging from the start, with energetic hyperbolic prose which immediately brings to life its narrator, N, and through her, Poppy and the other patients at the day centre. There is a fine border between sanity and madness and it shifts about a fair bit during the course of the novel, causing a constant reassessment of the reader's own perceptions. The subject matter may perhaps not immediately appeal to some people, but the novel is so extravagantly funny, yet so movingly serious, that I would urge anyone to put aside any doubts and read it. You won't regret it. You'll be gripped from the first page. This is a novel which deserves to be read from an exciting new writer with a unique voice. Clare Allan is the real deal. Don't miss out on her debut.
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Format: Paperback
Poppy Shakespeare, Clare Allan's Orange shortlisted novel, takes a terrifying, wry and witty look at the current state of mental health care. Related in the semi-literate vernacular of N, one of the patients on the Dorothy ish day ward of the Abaddon mental hospital, it follows events when a new patient, Poppy Shakespeare, is admitted as a new day patient. Poppy insists she has not got any mental health problems, but this is nothing new in psychiatry - denial and lack of insight are well recognised traits in psychiatric patients. But it soon becomes apparent that Poppy really shouldn't be there - and N embarks on a long course of action to help her get free. Thus a Catch 22-type chain of events is set in motion - Poppy can only prove she is not mentally ill by pretending to be mentally ill. Meanwhile, the system drags her to rock bottom and she develops - you've guessed it - symptoms of psychiatric illness.

Clare Allan has a sharp and perceptive insight into what goes on in psychiatric hospitals, and when related deadpan, it DOES sound risible. Yes, patients DO sit about chain-smoking all day, yes, in an under-resourced and over-burdened system, interaction with nurses and doctors really CAN be as rare as Allan conveys, yes, some older anti-psychotics drugs really DO induce vile side effects that reduce patients to twitching zombies, and so lack of compliance and abuse of drug regimes IS common. And Allan captures spot-on the paradoxes and sheer idiocies of a political system that puts targets before patients and sells off health care to the highest bidder.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a hard read once you start to realise what is happening to Poppy. You desperately want someone to come to her rescue and no one does. Gripping stuff. I like the realistic scenes in the mental hospital, where patients are just people who can't cope, not raving loonies (whatever may be on the other floors.)
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Format: Hardcover
Despite being an avid reader of fiction, I can count on two hands the amount of

books which have moved and delighted me as much as Clare Allan's "Poppy

Shakespeare".

As a social worker I am constantly frustrated by the way our society deceives

itself when it comes to issues of mental health. But while my feelings would

probably make for a slightly turgid article in the newspaper, what is remarkable

about this book is how subtly Allan weaves these concerns into an ingenious

story, whilst never resorting to the heavy-handed.

But be warned! Because of the risks it takes, this tragicomic view of the

circular world of Abbadon and its 'dribblers' is not an easy pill to swallow. It

takes courage to digest the subtext of "Poppy Shakespeare" - and a willingness

to loosen our hysterical grip on that thing we call 'sanity'. Go on, I dare you!

 
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