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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 10 February 2017
This is the third book from Louise Doughty I've read and again it's been a compelling read. It was fascinating to read the story through several generations and I kept up with all the characters all the way through. Thank you Louise
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on 29 March 2017
I was very disappointed in this book as I love Doughty's other work. It felt laboured, and I didn't really care what the protagonist did. In the end I din't finish it chichis unknown for me, I just found I couldn't pick it up. Wasn't all bad, well researched, just felt the story did not carry me forward.
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on 30 April 2017
I just loved this book, kept me captivated from the first page until the last, I became so embroiled in the lives of Clemmy, Lijah and Rose that I was bereft when I finished the book. Thank you Louise Doughty
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on 3 May 2015
Stone Cradle is a book that makes me want to give up writing. It is as near perfect as writing can get, and makes me question whether I can ever get even half-way as good.
I read quite analytically these days – all too often I spot the strings on the puppets or the hand of the puppeteer, or their bald head poking up. But Stone Cradle is flawless – all I could do was stand in awe of the writer’s skill and get carried away with the story. It’s one of those books I want to buy for everyone I know.
There are two main points of view – Clementina and Rose. It is not that they are unreliable narrators, to use the jargon – both tell different aspects to the story and though their accounts are often contrary you find yourself empathising with and believing the credibility of both.
The research behind it is thorough – so much so that most readers probably won’t realise the hours that went into constructing the story, brick by brick – it all seems to flow so effortlessly.
The novel captures superbly a core truth about families: their strifes, misunderstandings, loves and missed opportunities.
I don’t like giving stars to books – they all have their own merits and many deserve reading for different reasons, but I have no hesitation with this – it is one of the best novels I have read in years – Booker winners and classics of English Literature included.
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on 29 January 2017
..as this could not be more different. The excellent writing style and the in-depth examination of motivations and feelings are the only clue this is by the same author. And how refreshing, when so many authors seem to find a successful format and stick to it, to find one who can offer such varied work.
Stone cradle is the story of Romany Lem and her relationship with her non gypsy daughter in law Rose.
Told by both women in alternating sections, it's fascinating to see the different perspectives on the same events, and so frustrating to see how cultural misunderstandings lead to the barriers in their relationship.
The relationship between the women is complex, and for both, possibly the most important in their lives.
This is very much a book about relationships rather than incidents. Although it has its share of dramatic events, the emphasis is always on the characters reactions and emotions, rather than the drama itself, and some readers may find this makes the story seem slow; particularly as many events are related twice, by Len and by Rose. However, I found this added to my understanding of the characters and their relationship.
There is a great deal of insight into Romany culture and lifestyle in this book which is very interesting. It was no surprise to find the author is writing from personal knowledge, as she presents this in a manner that avoids either stereotyping or patronising.
Like other readers have commented, I would have liked a glossary in order to understand the Romany terms. However, given that one character explains the language is secret, maybe the ommission was appropriate. It certainly didn't detract from my understanding of the book, as the meaning was generally clear from the context.
It is difficult to criticise this book, as it does what it sets out to so well.
That said, I don't think it's for everyone, as it is slow paced, and doesn't follow the formula of building to a climax and ending with everything tied up nicely. Instead, it meanders along, with events occurring that don't necessarily feed into a story arc, and no 'plot' or twist; much like real life.
This book should be approached with an open mind, and in my opinion is a rewarding read.
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on 19 February 2015
Worth a read, but only if you are in a good mood. It is unremitting drudgery following the lives of gypsies Clemmie and Rosie. Unfaithful husbands, drunken fathers, unmarried mothers at a time this was a disgrace, children going to bed cold and hungry, parental abuse, its all in this book. I only kept going as I hoped for a light at the end of the story but it never appeared. I loved Apple Tree Yard but this is quite different.
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on 27 May 2016
AppleTree Yard was so brilliant- 5 stars but this.......... Hugely disappointed- No I didn't expect a carbon copy but I did think I'd get a highly enjoyable read- sadly not so- I couldn't care less about any of the characters, they were highly annoying and the book seemed to drag. I was also immensely irritated by not being able to look up terms/words that were foreign/unfamiliar to me and I whole heartedly disagree with the author's assertion that I didn't need to know them all and only needed to know one term- other books can have a glossary is it really that difficult.
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on 28 January 2012
This is the second Louise Doughty novel I have read. I reviewed `Whatever you Love' on Amazon last year and still feel a bit guilty about only giving it four stars when it was such a riveting read. For a while I have been meaning to back-track and discover some of her earlier works. I'm glad I did.

Stone Cradle has an altogether different feel about it and I don't think you would particularly connect the authorial styles - a plus, I think, because it's an indicator of a versatile writer. It's not such a page-turner as Whatever you Love, but is nonetheless deeply engrossing. Told from the alternate viewpoints of Clementine and Rose, her `gorger' daughter in law, it ranges across several generations of a Romany family from the nineteenth century up until 1960, but it's quite a step above the family saga type of novel, portraying what feels like an authentic picture of Romany life in and around Peterborough during that period. The characterisation is strong and the setting evocative. After this I will put Doughty on my list of must-read authors. She's a very accessible writer and storyteller but her work is of a high quality. She clearly has a good reputation but deserves to be even more well known.
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on 15 August 2009
I didnt want to read this book initially as the subject matter didnt grab me, but in the end I loved it. The relationship between mother and daughter in law is well written and surprisingly tender. The shift in point of view well handled especially when covering the same event when Doughty highlights how people can see things differently. Doughty is a marvellous observationist and puts a lot of this into her writing bringing it to life. I like the unobvious title too as it picks up on a small but ultimately significant part of the story.
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on 2 July 2009
This book was an unexpected pleasure. The writing was good, nothing jarred, I fell easily into the story. I think the way the chapters swapped POV from mother-in-law to daughter-in-law was effective. I really liked the vivid and vibrant world of the Romany people that the author created. The author also conveyed how people can live their whole lives not really understanding each other. Excellent.
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