Poppy Shakespeare Paperback – 5 Mar 2007
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'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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
books which have moved and delighted me as much as Clare Allan's "Poppy
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Yeah,it's a very challenging novel ,enjoys I makes you onset,if you get a chance watch the film,same title it was shown on London livePublished 2 months ago by gooner
Wonderful exploration of the minds of the mentally ill. Sharp and witty.Published 20 months ago by CEF
I would recommend it to everybody who has a family member or a friend suffering mental health problem. Read morePublished on 10 July 2013 by Celeste
Repetitive, depressing and largely uninspiring on any level. The prose style would be acceptable if only it had a real story. Couldn't finish it.Published on 22 Jun. 2013 by MRS CAROLYN A BIANCHI
I'm not sure about this book, it is sad in a way yet has some funny parts which made me laugh. I'm not sure I would recommend this book.Published on 15 Jun. 2013 by easet15
I saw the TV film version on channel 4 and fell in love with it so I decided to get the book. It's great comparing the differences for me, and I really like the way the book is... Read morePublished on 13 Jun. 2013 by Mjh
Absolutely fascinating read, which gave the reader an insight into her life and daily struggles, definately one you just cannot put down and when you do you can't wait to pick it... Read morePublished on 8 Nov. 2012 by SJC