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Waterland Paperback – 2 Apr 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprints edition (2 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330518216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330518215
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'Swift's 1983 masterpiece - a wonderfully rich novel that, as this 25th anniversary edition shows, has weathered the passing years.' -- Independent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Graham Swift’s multilayered chronicle set in the Cambridgeshire Fens is widely regarded as one of the finest British novels of the 1980s.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was only recently, after reading and watching books and movies set in the American south that I reconnected with Waterland and realised that it is essentially American gothic set in the damp heart of the East Anglian fens. There is the small community, enclosed by its own watery boundaries and separated from the rest of the country which barely gets a mention, close family (sometimes too close) and customs that are a throwback to times that if not simpler, were certainly less self-conscious. Echoes of Tom Sawyer are definitely here and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Regardless of the connections beween Swift's masterpiece and great American novels, this is a fantastic book completely soaked in the atmosphere of its surroundings and doing for the fens what Hardy did for Wessex and Du Maurier for Cornwall. Reading Waterland is to lose yourself among the eels and reeds of eastern England, and is a book that lingers long in the memory, both for the setting and the story.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I think this may be the second best novel I've ever read (after Cloud Atlas). Very different, but perhaps equally ambitious. Highly evocative of its setting and thoroughly credible as to characters and plotting - with some 'aha' moments. I'll certainly be reading more Graham Swift!
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Format: Paperback
A cleverly constructed narrative in which a middle-aged history teacher who is about to be pensioned off in the early 1960’s, looks back over his life, laying bare before us why he is being pensioned off and much more besides. Including a highly interesting section on the natural history of eels, which the author weaves seamlessly into the narrative. There is much musing on the meaning of history, the importance of history, its cyclical nature and how often it is ignored at individual and even whole nation’s peril. If you like history you will definitely like this novel.

The majority of the story is set in the Fenlands of East Anglia where Tom the to be history teacher was born and bred, only leaving it to fight in the later stages of WW2. Swift provides us with brilliant descriptions of the landscape and an interesting resume of how this landscape was created by man, one in particular, who kicked off the drainage programme to create agricultural land.

Rather like some detective dramas of recent years in which right at the beginning you are given split second images which reveal part of what happened in the murder of the victim, so too Swift gives us from the outset snapshots of the calamitous events which would happen a few years later or indeed decades later. So the reader does not really have to guess what tragedy is going to befall Tom’s menopausal wife, but this in no way detracts from the narrative. Swift ably pulls the reader through his book: he gets you wanting to know what intervening events and actions occur to bring her to her particular brink.

I would call this a must read book because of the cleverness of the construction of the narrative and the high degree of skill that Swift exhibits as a writer.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Waterland by Graham Swift is a phantastic book - versatile, bouth humorous and ernest. It describes the history of this very special part of England and makes the reader aquainted with some of its present habitants. We also learn quite a lot about the life cycle of the eel, an interesting and also important habitant of the coastal area of North Sea - also many other european coasts.
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Format: Paperback
Graham Swift's study of life and history in the fens of South Eastern England is not what I'd call an easy read; the story opens with a History teacher and former lock-keeper's son, Tom, telling of how he saw a local boy drowned in the river some thirty years ago. Flash-forward to the present day and Tom's post is being gradually eroded - as is his marriage due to his wife's issues with her inability to have children - so he decides to forget the syllabus he is supposed to teach and teach from his own experiences growing up in the fens...
Swift's themes are the nature of history, provincial life, and adolescent love; he never pulls his punches and consequently the novel needs to be perservered with at times. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Swift's most acclaimed novel didn't win, however it remains a powerful and moving story and one that should be read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
good characters in a well written story
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Sad. sad story, prosy style of writing but authentic background (living in the area I recognised one of the locations)
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Format: Paperback
Waterland is an engaging and thoughtful novel which has a nice balance of ideas-led and action/character-led elements within its structure. It is an elegaic look back at the passing of time and the significance of childhood and early adulthood, woven around a story which relates to the past as much as to the present. Having said that, it is never over-florid or over-clever, but has nice clean lines running through the writing style.
I am very impressed by the quality of the writing and the control that Swift shows over the different elements of plot and characterisation, which never faltered or allowed my interest to slip away. Some elements of the style did irritate slightly - the narrator's voice seemed in places a little over-stylised (even if this does suit the narrator's character), but overall this stylisation does actually add texture to the novel, even if in places it leaped out at me.
I have never read anything by Graham Swift before, but certainly intend to after reading this. A definite recommendation!
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