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Around the Houses (Five Star) Paperback – 14 Feb 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; Reprint edition (14 Feb. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852426977
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852426972
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 14.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,456,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

?Anna is a lesbian, she?s having a baby, the father is gay, her parents are ignorant of the whole thing and the neighbours are a colourful array of straight and gay characters. It is a feel-good story with an addictive style which I believe could well catch on? The Bookseller 'Amanda Boulter has written a funny, telling urban tale about a neighbourhood where different identities, sexualities and communities generate conflict, humour and wacky situations in equal measure. But this absorbing first novel is a hymn to freedom. And you believe in the humour and the energy because Boulter doesn't shirk the realities of prejudice and violence. These are tales of the city to make you shake, weep and giggle out loud. I'm already looking forward to the next one? Patricia Duncker

About the Author

Amanda Boulter is a lecturer in English at a HE College. She lives with her partner and their two sons in Dorset.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

It took me through all manners of emotions, from feeling completely stupid when I found myself laughing out loud in front of everybody on the bus, to sad and frustrated about how people think their way of life is always the best.
It's based on a bunch of people who live in a Close in Balham and at first sight they couldn't be more different from one another, yet as the story develops you see each character and the relationship they have with each other unfold.
What ever situation you find yourself in, if you've ever suffered from prejudice, loneliness, rejection, getting yourself in stupid situations, the weirdest neighbours ever or been embarrassed by your troubled parents, and you have a few hours to spare, then this book is well worth the read. I for one hope there will be another book soon, so I can catch up with all the residents again.
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"Amanda Boulter has written a funny, telling urban tale about a neighbourhood where different identities, sexualities and communities generate conflict, humour and wacky situations in equal measure ... These are tales of the city to make you shake, weep and giggle out loud. I'm already looking forward to the next one. - (Patricia Duncker)".

"A feel-good story with an addictive style which could well catch on. - (The Bookseller)".

"Armistead Maupin meets Ruby Wax in this portrayal of South London life at its eccentric best. ANNA is an ordinary woman in an exraordinary situation. She's having a baby, the father's gay, her lover's a woman and she still hasn't told her parents. Her best friend RUBY is feckless, forty and fondling every man she can. Her neighbours are the OAPs from Hell and across the road GREG is pining for ACORN, the eco-poet who abandoned him with their baby. Into all this walks SHIRLEY. She's left her provincial home and desperately needs a life: but PEARL, her mother, is coming too. In 'Around The Houses' ANNA and her new family deal with the consequences of coming out; RUBY has to face up to a violent past: SHIRLEY falls for GREG, and PEARL finds her true self at the Cosmic Cafe. The subject of this quirky, insightful and sharp novel, Balham will never be the same again."
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It's unfortunate that this book suggests that it'll be a modern, English "Tales of the City" because, disappointingly, it's nowhere near.

Although the opening chapter sets the foundations for what could have been a dark and quirky comedy, the ensuing story dawdles down an unengaging, predictable path. Set around the county's most remarkable suburban cul-de-sac and the most right-on vegetarian cooperative café, the majority of readers found little depth in the main characters and even less in their situations. There are also countless introductions to indistinct extra characters, which we also found distracting.

To the author's credit, this book is the light read the cover suggests it might be, is unpretentious and has some brilliantly witty moments... but they are just too few and far between to recommend this book to anyone else. We wanted to enjoy it more, but just couldn't.

Maybe the next volume Back Around the Houses pays better homage to Anna Madrigal?
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By A Customer on 23 Feb. 2002
Around the Houses is a great read. What I like about this book is that it's insightful, clever and witty but also refreshingly unpretentious. It's essentially a feelgood story - easy to read but not insulting to the intelligence of the reader. The dialogue is great - you feel that you can really hear these voices. It's a funny book but also makes some important points about contemporary society. The characters are brilliant. From the strange OAPs to the more ordinary single Dad, the lesbian couple, shy student, middle aged woman and gay estate agent they're all portrayed with real warmth.
Around the Houses has been compared to Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. There's a lot of differences between San Fransisco in the 70s and South London now but I'd agree with the comparison. It's about gay and straight life but most of all about finding yourself. Amanda Boulter presents characters that you care about and stories that make you laugh and cry. This book is apparently the first in a series. I can't wait for the next one.
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