Learn more Download now Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle New Album - Tokio Myers Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's

  • NW
  • Customer reviews

Customer reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio Download|Change

on 14 October 2017
Well written
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 November 2017
all as above
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 February 2015
Having read a publisher's proof copy of this novel and about to submit my review I was fascinated by the wide and approximately equal spread of ratings. It suggests an author moving beyond the comfort zones of many of her readers but I hope that the varied response will not reduce Smith's sense of literary adventurism.

The settingis the author's home ground and, whatever the overall success of the book, her descriptions of this area of NW London around Willesden, one of those where deprivation and wealth lie close together, is exciting and brash, especially for a reader with no first-hand experience of the locality. Even more than the two male characters, Felix and Nathan, it was this part of London that dominated the book and further accentuated the focus on the two central female characters, Leah and Keisha/Nathalie.

Leah Hanwell, a graduate of Irish descent, now in her mid-30s, and working in `the charities sector' is married to Michel, a North African who works as a hairdresser but seeks to improve himself by speculating on-line. The reader is made aware very early that whilst he wants children she does not and takes every step to avoid them.

Nathalie De Angelis, a barrister and mother married to the rich and handsome Frank [Francesco], lives in a suitably grand home. She was at school with Leah and then called herself Keisha Blake. At first appearance she is a social climber, the surprise being her continued friendship with Leah [At a dinner party, `Leah tries to explain what she does for a living to someone who doesn't care. The spinach is farm to table. Everyone comes together for a moment to complain about the evils of technology, what a disaster, especially for teenagers, yet most people have their phones laid next to their dinner plates.']. Later, however, we learn about Keisha's determination to educate herself and to move beyond the `respectable black working class'.

The relationship between the two women overcomes their current social divide as both address doubts about their husbands [Natalie and Frank have reached the stage of `a double act who only speak to each other when they're onstage'] and exchange gossip about old classmates. The terrific opening of the book describes one of these, Shar, who takes money from the very naïve Leah using a very obvious sob story. Later her family and friends all point out her gullibility but one suspects that Leah would do the same again, although their later friendship was rather bizarre.

Nathan Bogle was a promising footballer and the object of all female, and no doubt some male, longing at school, is now reduced to a stumbling crack-smoking wreck in the bus station.

Felix Cooper is introduced through a coincidence and not completely successfully so. A recovering addict, at 32 he seems to be on the way to a better life as a mechanic and we follow his day from NW6 to W1, a world away, to look at an old MG owned by a rich boy [though I was not wholly convinced by the interaction between the two]. Later he drops in on Annie, an aristocratic ex-lover and addict. Felix's story seems somewhat wedged into the overall narrative almost as if to maintain a gender balance.

The sections vary stylistically which may give some readers difficulty and be be the basis of jibes against `modernism'. In the section, `Host', Keisha's/Natalie's story is presented as 185 discrete micro-tales, almost photographs, that coalesce to explain the strength and determination of the character and, amongst other things, offer this male reader an insight into the issues and experiences affecting young female adolescents in NW6. Text is presented as
disembodied lines of poetry, dialogue as grouped lines without inverted commas and words are arranged on the page to create visual images. This produces a river of information, sometimes as violent as swirling rapids, and the reader is advised to hang on and try to enjoy the journey.

The absence of a tidy conclusion may disappoint but would go against all that has gone before. The characters will continue to bounce along, influenced by current events and relationships as well as those that supplant them. This is a book that I will return to in a few years as I am certain there is much that I have failed to see or appreciate. As of today though, 7/10.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 October 2016
I greatly enjoy Zadie Smith's style. Since I live in 'NW' myself I particularly enjoyed the references to local streets and landmarks - but also found the parallel universes across the divide between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' living in this area chilling. My only reservation was re the ending - which I wasn't quite convinced by.

William Irvine - Author of The Polygamist The Polygamist
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 2 March 2015
This is the first Zadie Smith novel I've read, however it may also be the last. The premise was interesting: the integrated stories of four different protagonists live their lives out in North West London (hence the 'NW' of the title.) Some of the stories were fairly compelling (Leah's), others confusing. I'm not really sure whether mixing the narrative about into a first, second and third person focus really works to be honest. That said, I enjoyed this book, but it did seem a little too much style over substance for my tastes.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 January 2014
I have never read Zadie Smith before so didn't know what to expect. The back cover description drew me in but I found it very disjointed and difficult to read at times. I did like the way the characters were described and how they were linked but that was about it. If I really don't like a book I wont finish it but this had me ploughing on, if only to see if I could gain some fluency. The end was a little strange. I have friends who loved it so perhaps its just not for me.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 24 February 2014
Not sure what this author is trying to do. Found this a somewhat chaotic read - maybe that was the idea. Found it a bit tricky to follow. When I finished reading I just felt a bit stupid - as if I'd missed something that I'm not clever enough to see!
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 October 2017
Haven't read anything by Zadie Smith since White Teeth. This one was a little bit slow to get going but really pulled me in, particularly once the background to the unlikely friendship between Leah and Natalie started to emerge.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 February 2014
This reads like a really well-written book, as you'd hope for from Zadie Smith, but I just didn't enjoy it. Most of the characters were fairly unpleasant with few redeeming features and until about 2/3 of the way through it felt quite fragmented. There were a few beautifully written and well-observed sections but, overall, I struggled to finish it and didnt feel satisfied once I had. I'm not sure whether it might appeal more to people living in NW (or London/cities generally) but, as a country-bumpkin it wasnt my thing.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 July 2014
I love N-W. Her characters live. They have life. They don't feel like fictional ciphers. But ZS still finds space for proper literary expression, feeling, original ways with sentences. I feel happy envy. I genuinely LOLed (smoking man in park) and felt sad, sorry, apprehensive, even scared (the long, late walk.)
More soon Z, please.
An open-hearted admirer.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Questions? Get fast answers from reviewers

Please make sure that you've entered a valid question. You can edit your question or post anyway.
Please enter a question.

Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)