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Then Hardcover – 2 Jun 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (2 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224093754
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224093750
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.7 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 939,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

''Then' is a bold, uncompromising book that marks out Myerson as a truly interesting and risk-taking author...Myerson's cleverness lies in her supremely confident ability to play with stucture, drip-feeding us snippets of memory yet never losing pace along the way...The careful, intriguing plotting ensures that the eventual conclusion is both disturbing and moving. Myerson's use of language, too, is striking: her sentences are sparsely poetic and she is able to convey layers of meaning through the use of a single, tellling detail which juxtaposes the mundane with the inconceivable...'Then' is not an easy read, but it is a grippingly good one' --Observer

'Myerson's new work is a novel, her eight, and the uncontrollable place that her imagination springs from is given full rein. 'Then' is a devastatingly dark story, and the hypnotic quality of its writing, and the searing vision it lays before us, certainly appear to have sprung from a deep and frightening source...It is tempting to read the terrifying landscape in which 'Then' unfolds as a mental map, an inner hell of emotional torment that any woman found wanting as a wife and mother must face. Yet it is more than that: it is also a portrait of the primitive realities of family life, and the need above all to protect what matters most. 'Then' may have been written from a source beyond Myerson's control, but it will chime with anyone who has inflicted hurt, wittingly or not. Most of us, in other words.' --Sunday Herald

'One of the starkest yet most elegant descriptions of a parent's ultimate and most terrible dilemma attempted by a writer in recent years. It is written as if through a cascade of tears. Throughout this book, Myerson demonstrates once again her masterful ability to convey the fragility of a society that can be so easily and completely broken.'
--Morning Star

`Then is a bold, uncompromising book that marks out Myerson as a truly interesting and risk-taking author... Myerson's cleverness lies in her supremely confident ability to play with structure, drip-feeding us snippets of memory yet never losing pace along the way... The careful, intriguing plotting ensures that the eventual conclusion is both disturbing and moving. Myerson's use of language, too, is striking: her sentences are sparsely poetic and she is able to convey layers of meaning through the use of a single, telling detail which juxtaposes the mundane with the inconceivable... Then is not an easy read, but it is a grippingly good one' --Observer

`Myerson's new work is a novel, her eighth, and the uncontrollable place that her imagination springs from is given full rein. Then is a devastatingly dark story, and the hypnotic quality of its writing, and the searing vision it lays before us, certainly appear to have sprung from a deep and frightening source... It is tempting to read the terrifying landscape in which Then unfolds as a mental map, an inner hell of emotional torment that any woman found wanting as a wife and mother must face. Yet it is more than that: it is also a portrait of the primitive realities of family life, and the need above all to protect what matters most. Then may have been written from a source beyond Myerson's control, but it will chime with anyone who has inflicted hurt, wittingly or not. Most of us, in other words.' --Sunday Herald

`One of the starkest yet most elegant descriptions of a parent's ultimate and most terrible dilemma attempted by a writer in recent years. It is written as if through a cascade of tears. Throughout this book, Myerson demonstrates once again her masterful ability to convey the fragility of a society that can be so easily and completely broken.' --Morning Star

'Julie Myerson offers a haunting twist on Armageddon... A chillingly persuasive vision of emotional hell' --Financial Times

'Myerson displays a deft touch at providing the reader with telling, troubling details, clues to what might have happened. Unremittingly bleak, Then is a novel about memory as a woman tries to piece together the fragments of her past' --Metro

'Beautifully written, mesmeric and haunting' --Psychologies Magazine

`This is writing that takes the breath away and a book that describes a descent into hell. Be warned: the ending is absolutely agonising. The last sentence breathtaking. I cannot praise this staggeringly accomplished work highly enough.' --Sunday Express

`The eeriness of the world outside is conveyed well; as are the horrors that beset the survivors...It is highly readable and involving, offering tantalising clues as the reader tries to navigate the grisly streets of London and the dark corners of the narrator's mind...but the central human narrative is strong and clear, proving that even in darkness there are points of light.' --Daily Telegraph

`In this unremittingly dark book this disintegrated psychic state of the central character remains bleakly engrossing and sadly touching throughout.' --The Irish Times

`Myerson's eighth novel evolves from the blurry uncertainty of Kafkaesque dreamscape into a riveting story where the dystopia gradually recedes in importance and what it's actually about begins to reveal itself: the fragmentation of the self brought about by the loss of someone you love, the difficulty of coping with everyday existence afterwards and the extreme places that grief can sometime stake us to. It's a daring and dazzling performance that confirms Myerson as a novelist who can increasingly be relied upon to come up with another new book that is both different and good.' --Daily Mail

"One of Myerson's strength's lies in creating atmosphere... Myerson sees the pathos in small details."
--The Independent

Book Description

An astonishing, apocalyptic new novel, from the author of Something Might Happen

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm not sure if I think this is a good book or not. On one hand I didn't enjoy it and it was quite confusing at times, but on the other it was original and interesting.

The book is centred around an amnesiac woman who is sheltering in a London office building with a few other survivors of an undefined apocalyptic event that leaves the whole city a frozen wasteland. She remembers almost nothing about her past life or the people she is with. It is gradually revealed how she came to be there and more-or-less who she is.

The style of the book is very spartan, with little punctuation (rather like 'The Road' but with breaks for paragraphs etc). This adds to the atmosphere but punctuation is used for a reason, and the lack of it doesn't make the text easy to read sometimes. The story is also very slow to get going, with almost nothing happening in each scene. This gives the feeling of the woman's memory gradually returning in a way that draws the reader in, but can be a bit tedious.

Finally, I pretty much predicted the ending (if you can call it an ending) and I'm still not sure what was real and what was imagined. Maybe that's the point, but I found it frustrating and I can't really see the point of it all.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm about two-thirds of the way through and I've had these thoughts in my head for some time and I feel I need to record them now.
Everyone keeps saying how gripping this book is, how disturbing, how powerful but I don't quite feel this the same way. It's not so gripping that I can't put it down but it IS fascinating. It's not so disturbing that I feel upset by it - for apocalypses it's good but also a bit tame; they're cold but not freezing, they're hungry but not driven to cannibalism, their world is falling apart yet there is a lot less chaos and brutality than I would expect. Pardon the pun but for an apocalypse it's a bit cold and distracted.
No, what IS fascinating about this story is the way it makes me feel like I'm in someone's mind; her mind. Her world has fallen apart. This cold, colourless landscape reflects her inability to feel emotions - she comes across as cold, confused... lost. Her "ghosts" or "hallucinations" or "flashbacks" are the product of a broken mind. And that's what makes the book disturbing - to be inside a broken mind. How much IS illusion, how much real? You feel something terrible has happened (and I'm not just talKing about the end of the world!). She's done something terrible - or has she? Is she blaming herself? Does she feel that somehow she's caused all this? All is confused yet has a structure... We ARE in a true wilderness here, the detritus and chaos of a broken mind...
And that is what makes this a truly brilliant bit of writing - the fact that it can draw these feelings, these questions, out of me - the fact that it can make me think about what all this is REALLY about...

And now I've finished I have nothing more to say
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Format: Paperback
Then is not a post-apocalyptic survival story. The apocalyptic event, which is never fully explained, that led to London becoming a frozen wasteland sets the scene for the story, but this is far more a literary mystery than a story of survival.

The writing style itself is quite difficult to get used to - it's quite bleak and time shimmers between the past and the present from paragraph to paragraph - this is a book that I had to pay real attention to, otherwise I would have been constantly lost.

Isobel has survived the event, simply described only as an unseasonably hot day that after a flash of light turns the world cold, and is sheltering in an office building with a man, and three teenagers. Having lost her memory, and continuing to have some kind of amnesia, she initially has no recollection of the event, or even of what has occurred just hours before. She is not particularly likable as a character, mainly because she has no memories to form a personality, likes or dislikes, and as she cannot remember nor really even distinguish between dreams and reality, she has an almost ghost-like quality.

Other characters fade in and out as the story progresses, and the whole book has a very ethereal but disjointed feeling. The ending is particularly poignant, but this book has no real resolution, which almost makes it a little bit too clever for its own good. This is not a fun read, nor action-packed, but I did like the ghostly, discombobulated feel. Yep, I've been waiting years to use that word!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a disturbingly chilling yet enthralling read. It packs a powerful emotional punch as the story unfolds through the eyes of the principal character. Her unreliable and fragmented memory is what drives the novel. But she is a difficult character to like. This, coupled with Julie Myerson's sparse style of prose, may frustrate anyone who prefers a more conventional story-telling approach. But for me it works brilliantly. The fact that it is often unclear what is real and what is imagined is what gives the story so much suspense. Are her memories of a past life real or simply fantasy, a way of coping with the post-apocalyptic wasteland? I read the novel over 24 hours because I needed to find out if my developing interpretation of the plot was correct (to say any more would give away too much and I don't like `spoiler alerts' as a review device). Overall, this is a highly recommended literary page turner.
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