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Is There Anything You Want? Audio CD – 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Chivers (2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405671645
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405671644
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,029,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a previous Margaret Forster fan I picked up this book with enthusiasm, but as a health care worker I found it disturbing and depressing. Perhaps this was the intention and it certainly kept me turning the pages but ultimately this book describes women's lives being devastated by cancer, surrounded by dysfunctional relationships and fear, anger and loneliness.
Whilst a diagnosis of cancer is never anything but devastating, many real people who survive cancer or live with the diagnosis of cancer find enormous strength within themselves and draw enormous support from relationships that become stronger because of discussing the things in life that really matter. I kept hoping that one of Forster's characters would find this strength and reach out to the others, but all her characters were isolated and lonely. This was a book about lives being destroyed by cancer rather than lives lived to the full despite cancer.
I would like to know what breast cancer survivors think of this book but I would feel too nervous lending it to them. Maybe it would make them feel they were not doing too badly in the same way that Rachel Cusk's ' A life's work" made me feel I wasn't such a bad mother after all! But I think it would just make them feel depressed.
There is no doubt however that Forster writes extremely perceptively about human emotions and experiences. The book has made me think differently about a human situation and this is always her great strength.
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By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 5 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The blurb on the back of this book describes the seven female characters as survivors. To a degree this is true. Ida, Edwina and Rachel have all survived breast cancer; Sarah has been told her breast cysts are almost certainly benign; Dot copes valiantly with a crippled husband and a difficult relationship with her daughter Sarah; Chrissie has managed to get a high-ranking job as a cancer specialist in a competitive world; and Mrs Hibbert is still active and full of energy at the age of seventy. But in fact, this is a novel (or rather, an interlinking collection of stories) about misery. All the female characters in this book are damaged or unhappy. Mrs Hibbert's super-capability and busy life keeps her from brooding on painful memories, from her marriage and from an earlier relationship; underneath her bustling, bossy exterior she is very lonely. Chrissie can't cope with the pressures of her work, and the emotional distress it causes her brings her close to breakdown. Dot is terrified by her bullying husband and by life; Sarah, her daughter, is terrified of getting cancer, in a difficult relationship with a married man, and beset by fears which go back to her childhood. Rachel feels that she cannot connect with her family or make close friends, and is still suffering from the end of an intense relationship. And Edwina and Ida are damaged by their experiences of cancer - Edwina, who 'hates to be noticed', is obsessed that her cancer may come back, and seeks relief in reading and daydreaming, failing to notice that her younger daughter is in serious relationship trouble, while Ida, who doesn't even have the intellectual consolation of books, drifts into a haze of misery and obsessive dread that her cancer will return, and refuses to confide in or show warmth to her kindly husband Martin.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I was looking forward to reading this book after reading an online extract. Margaret Forster is one of my favourite authors, although I am still recovering from the discovery that "Diary of an Ordinary Woman" is in fact totally fictional. I am therefore sorry to say that this book was a real disappointment. There are too many characters who remain shadowy because they are only described in terms of their reaction to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and the introduction of an emotionally insecure vicar halfway through is just a distraction. By the end there is a tangle of loose ends, and while that may reflect most people's lives it does not make for a satisfying read. The book didn't even give any real insight into living in the shadow of breast cancer.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Loved this book. I agree with some other reviews that not much happens in it but nonetheless each night as I tottered up the stairs to bed I glanced at the book and knew that within a couple of minutes I would be surrounded by Margaret Forster's very real characters. The subject matter 'cancer' which initially held me back from starting this book, figured very little in the story I thought, simply lurked in the background. This is very true of real life and every family has a cancer story somewhere within it. What I do find in her books is always, somewhere in the story, I find myself, my mother, my sisters and friends - I think this is why I love her so much X
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love Margaret Forster's novels, and have read most of them. This one (an early one, I assume, altough I couldn't find the original publication date) isn't up to her best, but I still enjoyed it.

The blurb on the Amazon page is, I think, rather over-written. In fact, I found this to be a gentle, almsot leisurely novel, although its subject (women affected by cancer) certainly isn't. The women in question are all connected with the breast cancer deparment of hte local hospital, either as patients or staff (there is the hospital volunteer, the austere Mrs.Hibbert, and the bewildered Chrissie, a young doctor). Although cancer is a dramatic subject, nothing dramatic really happens; it is a tale of small lives affected by illness, and is rather reminiscent of the novels of Barbar Pym (especially the new vicar, who is both misunderstanding and misunderstood).

LIke all Forster's novels, this one is beautifully written, and if you are a fan, I'm sure you will enjoy it. But if you are new to this author, I would start with something more substantial, such as Lady's Maid or Have the Men Had Enough. Recommended.
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