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Standard Deviation Hardcover – 1 Jun 2017
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‘Not only one of the funniest books you will ever read, but true and poignant, too. Audra is one of the most memorable comic characters ever to leap from the pages of a book’ Daily Mail
‘There is texture, intelligence, warmth and perspicacity that lifts it into the realms of Carol Shields or Curtis Sittenfeld. It plays in my head as a movie directed by Noah Baumbach or Nora Ephron … I chuckled my way through Standard Deviation, but at times it made my heart ache’ The Times
‘Audra Daltry is a singular creation – a character so funny, so appealing, so sure that she can change the world for her family that she will jump right off the page and take up permanent residence in your heart’ Kate Atkinson
‘Brilliantly funny’ India Knight
‘Heiny’s novel is a comic masterpiece and her Audra is the funniest heroine ever. A faltering marriage, a vulnerable child, an origami class full of seriously weird loners – dark material transformed into pure gold by Heiny’s spot-on comic timing’ Observer
‘Funny, fresh, with the kind of perceptive observations that make you see family life, friendship, parenting and marriage anew’ Mail on Sunday
‘Heiny’s characters – charming, flawed, relatable, tragic, hilarious – are faultlessly constructed, lingering long in the memory like family or friends’ Observer
‘A book so funny and perceptive I want to be friends with its author’ Laline Paull
‘There are some painfully hilarious exchanges, but underlying the jokes is an emotionally intelligent dissection of conflicting inner worlds’ Sunday Times
‘Wonderful … It is easier to catalog this novel’s individual sly charms than it is to nail down the essential, quicksilver thing that makes it such a success’ New York Times Book Review
‘Both heart-piercing and, crucially, very funny’ New York Times
‘Evoking the smart, stylish wit of Laurie Colwin, Nora Ephron, and Maria Semple’ NPR
About the Author
Katherine Heiny is the author of Single, Carefree, Mellow, a fantastically received short story collection. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and children.
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Top customer reviews
Yet again, I laughed out loud. Yet again, my heart was broken. Yet again, I was moved. Why yet again - because it all happened before, while I was reading her collection of short stories, Single, Carefree, Mellow.
Eccentric, amusingly unconventional, moving and tremendously wise - "Standard Deviation" is a book about love, life, family, connections and broken hearts. And love, LOVE. Origami and missed chances. I loved it.
I loved it.
She's also the most entertaining character I've come across in a long time. Entirely unassuming and unabashed, she'll talk about anything anywhere:
"(Audra) had once interrupted a complete stranger on a crosstown bus to say that the symptoms she was describing sounded like bacterial vaginitis"
Audra also has a habit of inviting guests into their home after the briefest of acquaintances. Graham looks on bemused, admiring his 'pretty' (he calls her this repeatedly) wife, he's embarrassed but also proud of her.
Graham himself is rather adorably funny, clearly in love with his wife and son, it's quite touching at times. The story sees him trying to come to terms with his son's eccentricities, his wife's, and he finds himself back in touch with the wife he left for Audra - Elspeth, her polar opposite.
Matthew, their eleven year old, is like Audra in that we watch him as an outsider. He has his obsessions, we watch his parents anxiously trying to encourage his friendships, loyally taking him to his clubs. It's touching, and quite an insight into parenting a child with Aspergers'.
This is the sort of story where not much really 'happens': it's Graham's journey through a few months of his life, but it's marvellously amusing and such a warm read with a married couple you've never seen the like of. It's totally bonkers at times, Graham also lends it a core of sense but also the heart and soul. Audra is almost a 'manic dream pixie' of an older woman, a law unto herself, Graham is her straight man.
It's an unusual perspective and story, but hard to dislike I would say. I did finish it thinking I could have kept on going for weeks, reading more about their lives, the people they meet, seeing how Matthew continues to grow up. It ends without the story really reaching a 'high', but some elements are resolved and plots wrapped up.
I loved this, though it's hard to say quite why as it meanders along merrily without you realising you're quickly approaching the end.
I would definitely recommend this, you'll smile, cringe, laugh your way through and just adore the characters eccentricities.
With thanks to Netgalley for the advance e-copy.
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