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Rook Paperback – 2 Aug 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Paperback, 2 Aug 2012
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus; First Edition edition (2 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408817950
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408817957
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.8 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 676,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Rusbridge's sympathetic and respectful handling of a sensitive issue conveys an emotional impact that resonates long after the closing pages (TLS)

Genuinely fascinating and the writing itself is really fine - often lush and ambitiously poetic, but always controlled (Daily Mail)

Rook is an astonishingly vivid book; colours, textures, sounds, landscape, weather - a locality so precisely evoked that it rises up from the page as you read, and surrounds you with the fabric of the imagined lives which inhabit it. They are fascinating and compelling lives, and the plot delves into the layers of their past actions and secrets, delicately peeling them away ... an utterly engrossing novel (The Tablet)

An emotional tale of family, forgotten history and loyalty (Psychologies)

What a good novelist Jane Rusbridge is! I love the way she combines dexterous storytelling with deliciously descriptive, poetic prose. The people, the landscape they inhabit, even the birds in the air, are all vividly rendered in this mesmerising and multilayered story

(Marika Cobbold, author of Guppies for Tea)

Intense, atmospheric and beautifully written (Joanna Briscoe, author of Sleep with Me)

Compelling, absorbing and beautifully written (Patricia Duncker)

A richly woven tale has its pleasures too (Independent)

A powerful tale ... intensely written (Lifestyle)

Thoughtful ... The historical background of the Sussex coast, full of battles and dead husbands, enriches it (Sunday Herald)

Book Description

A mesmerising story of family, legacy and turning back the tides, Rook beautifully evokes the shifting Sussex sands, and the rich seam of history lying just beneath them

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jane Rusbridge has followed her excellent debut novel: The Devil's Music with this exquisitely written and thoroughly enjoyable second novel 'Rook'.

Nora, a cellist, has returned to Creek House, her family home in Bosham, a beautiful village on the West Sussex coast, where she attempts to put incidents from her recent past behind her. Nora's mother, Ada, an emotionally fragile and somewhat embittered woman, is not entirely welcoming, and instead of giving her daughter the love and support she needs, she immerses herself in her own fragmented memories and imaginings of the past, as she wanders in her overgrown garden where the scent of her French cigarettes mingle with the enticing aromas of the sea.

With the need to put her past behind her, Nora fills her spare time by running along the creek paths leading to the sea with the sound of cello concertos reverberating in her mind, and by volunteering to help with village life. One day she finds a half-dead baby bird, and feeling a connection with the bird's injured state and needing a project, Nora immerses herself in nursing the young bird back to health. And while Nora is occupied with her injured bird, other events occur which provide further distractions when a film crew, headed by a rather charismatic documentary maker, arrives in the village to make a film about an eleventh century king who is believed to be buried under the floor of the parish church. Bosham, we discover, has important and fascinating associations with the past and, as tales of ancient battles, rivalries and burials are revealed, Nora and Ada find themselves confronting difficult issues from their own pasts that are very painful to deal with.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After the wonderful, The Devils Music, I couldn't wait to read ROOK, Jane Rusbridge' second novel. I preordered it from Amazon and cleared the decks for its arrival. When it did arrive I tore it from the parcel and found this beautiful book, the front cover has a picture of Nora, standing amongst a building of rooks. yes building, I looked it up. Anyway there are rooks in the air all around her. Nora has returned home to Creek House next to the village of Bosham, on the Sussex coast. Nora rescues an injured rook and nurses him back to heath, she names him Rook. Her mother Ada lives in the house and is a bitter old woman with a secret. Nora has been away from home. She is a gifted cellist and while at collage, then performing, has had an affair with her older and charismatic teacher. Nora has secrets too. There is so many wonderful layers to this book, from the opening scene of a mid eleventh century battlefield to the same ground in the twenty first century and Jonny, an outsider who wants to make a documentary about King Cnut and an attempted archaeological dig in the little church of Bosham. The characters are all fantastically written and the family story of Nora, her sister Flick, Felicity and their parents is wonderfully revealed as the the book reaches its end. This has been a hard review to write, no matter what I say about ROOK, it couldn't with my limited skill, do it Justis. I think Jan Rusbridge is something special and we may look back in years to come and realise this. I hope she writes many more books and gets the acclaim she deserves today.

Footnote. you can also have a parliment of rooks, I like building.
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This is an attractive book to handle, with a print of a bird-in-flight heading each chapter. And the character of Rook is original and 'other.' But I found the writing distracting, and this is obviously a very individual response judging by most of the other reviews. The novel is essentially written in the present tense, but as both Nora and Ada ruminate much on the far (or recent) past, those parts are written in the past tense. So far so logical, but the tenses often change several times in one short chapter, and I found this halted the flow of the reading experience and created a distance to the characters. One of the recommendations on the back cover says "You feel the author's deft touch on every page." And oddly, this was part of the problem for me. I don't want to be 'feeling the deft touch of the author', so much as being engrossed in the flow of the story and the characters. Some of the scenes were like very accomplished set pieces (the scene in the old folks home, the fire, Rook causing havoc), but I wasn't hooked by the characters for the first half of the book, though the air of melancholia and loss is sustained. By the end, I did want to know what happened to Nora and there is an emotional depth which left me thoughtful, but still niggled by the frequent changes of tense and the author's particular crafting.
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One of the things I liked this most for was the lack of tied up endings - so many things happened and were not explained, so many secrets not told. I don't know whether this was deliberate, a sequel being anticipated (which would be eagerly read) but I think not; it's just the way things are.
The opening was historical and lush, rich, gorgeous and brutal. The rest described places, a way of life and a background of cello-playing which I am unfamiliar with.
The whole told of a woman I couldn't help but wish to know more about; her relationship with her mother and those about her compelling.
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