[ [ [ NW [ NW ] By Smith, Zadie ( Author )Sep-27-2012 Compact Disc
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Top customer reviews
It was very confusing to follow and in most places you got the impression that chapters have been omitted and left the reader confused neither did the sub headings on various headings help to move the story forward.
The ending was very abrupt and left the reader wondering and in mid air
The cover of the book was very misleading as the reader expected to read snother best seller which in this case definitely missed its mark.
The settingis the author's home ground and, whatever the overall success of the book, her descriptions of this area of NW London around Willesden, one of those where deprivation and wealth lie close together, is exciting and brash, especially for a reader with no first-hand experience of the locality. Even more than the two male characters, Felix and Nathan, it was this part of London that dominated the book and further accentuated the focus on the two central female characters, Leah and Keisha/Nathalie.
Leah Hanwell, a graduate of Irish descent, now in her mid-30s, and working in `the charities sector' is married to Michel, a North African who works as a hairdresser but seeks to improve himself by speculating on-line. The reader is made aware very early that whilst he wants children she does not and takes every step to avoid them.
Nathalie De Angelis, a barrister and mother married to the rich and handsome Frank [Francesco], lives in a suitably grand home. She was at school with Leah and then called herself Keisha Blake. At first appearance she is a social climber, the surprise being her continued friendship with Leah [At a dinner party, `Leah tries to explain what she does for a living to someone who doesn't care. The spinach is farm to table. Everyone comes together for a moment to complain about the evils of technology, what a disaster, especially for teenagers, yet most people have their phones laid next to their dinner plates.']. Later, however, we learn about Keisha's determination to educate herself and to move beyond the `respectable black working class'.
The relationship between the two women overcomes their current social divide as both address doubts about their husbands [Natalie and Frank have reached the stage of `a double act who only speak to each other when they're onstage'] and exchange gossip about old classmates. The terrific opening of the book describes one of these, Shar, who takes money from the very naïve Leah using a very obvious sob story. Later her family and friends all point out her gullibility but one suspects that Leah would do the same again, although their later friendship was rather bizarre.
Nathan Bogle was a promising footballer and the object of all female, and no doubt some male, longing at school, is now reduced to a stumbling crack-smoking wreck in the bus station.
Felix Cooper is introduced through a coincidence and not completely successfully so. A recovering addict, at 32 he seems to be on the way to a better life as a mechanic and we follow his day from NW6 to W1, a world away, to look at an old MG owned by a rich boy [though I was not wholly convinced by the interaction between the two]. Later he drops in on Annie, an aristocratic ex-lover and addict. Felix's story seems somewhat wedged into the overall narrative almost as if to maintain a gender balance.
The sections vary stylistically which may give some readers difficulty and be be the basis of jibes against `modernism'. In the section, `Host', Keisha's/Natalie's story is presented as 185 discrete micro-tales, almost photographs, that coalesce to explain the strength and determination of the character and, amongst other things, offer this male reader an insight into the issues and experiences affecting young female adolescents in NW6. Text is presented as disembodied lines of poetry, dialogue as grouped lines without inverted commas and words are arranged on the page to create visual images. This produces a river of information, sometimes as violent as swirling rapids, and the reader is advised to hang on and try to enjoy the journey.
The absence of a tidy conclusion may disappoint but would go against all that has gone before. The characters will continue to bounce along, influenced by current events and relationships as well as those that supplant them. This is a book that I will return to in a few years as I am certain there is much that I have failed to see or appreciate. As of today though, 7/10.
William Irvine - Author of The Polygamist The Polygamist
We all became a little silent when the Book Group gathered for our meeting to discuss the novel but one by one revealed our honest opinions that this was totally unreadable rubbish.
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