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on 5 September 2017
before U read this book U really need to have seen the film
to work out what the bleedin' Hells going on half the time
the book ( with its multiple narrators and numerous flashbacks and streams of consciousness ) is difficult to follow
there's 4 main characters ( 5 if U include Jack ) but U have to remember the names of their wives and kids as well
the film helps U put a face to the name
which makes following what's going on a lot easier
once U know what happens...how it ends... U wanna go back to the beginning again and re-trace the interweaving lives
coz its your friends who break your heart.... and your friends who mend it... coz its all a gamble...just a gamble
still...U cant help thinking : don't they do this sorta stuff in East Enders ?...every single week ?...and don't they do it better ?...every single week ?
maybe not
maybe Last Orders works better as a play. it certainly works well as a film
the dialogue ( taken word for word from the book ) and the acting ( which is great ) makes the characters funny, sad and a little lovable and in Jack's case strangely heroic
the experience ( and it is an experience ) is moving and memorable enough for 5 Stars
but great literature it aint
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on 22 October 2016
By rotating the speaking voices Mr Swift gradually pulls together a whole believable world, past and present, around the major characters, both those on the final journey and those staying behind. The south London vernacular falls naturally right from the start, and while "aint" rather than the more usual "ain't" seemed a bit unnecessary to start with, in the end because it is a word used so often by all of them it starts to flow and indeed flows better on the page uninterrupted by an apostrophe. As the back stories build you get a growing sense of the happenstance in life and how one moment's decision can change everything and resonate down the years. Lovely Sally, falling pregnant, having the illegal abortion Amy never had, and ending up with a life more desolate and constrained than Amy's ever was. Lucky Vince ending up with Amy rather than some orphanage or home. Amy visiting June religiously almost like a talisman but never getting anything she hopes for except perhaps to punish Jack and herself. Raysy with his rather clichéd 33 to 1 win just when it really matters which yet allows him to square things with Vince, who is visibly relieved, as well as open possibilities with Susie and Amy. The final touching paragraphs as the ill matched travelling companions scatter Jack's ashes are vividly written, the weather and sense of p!ace heightened and making the final farewell both dramatic and gentle. You aint hardly wrote nothing better, Mr S.
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on 21 January 2012
Last Orders has received the highest praise. The Guardian and TLS hailed it as Swift's finest book to date; it won the 1996 Booker Prize; it is included in the critic John Carey's list of the fifty most enjoyable books of the 20th century.

The novel concerns a car journey by a quartet of Londoners to carry out the last request of Jack Dodds: to have his ashes scattered into the sea from Margate pier. As the book progresses, the life stories of Jack and the four men are gradually revealed. The structure is rather complex, with seven different voices used, and alternations between the past and present.

You can see why it has attracted such praise. The prose is constructed with great care, the characters come to life and the various locations (a Bermondsey pub, Canterbury Cathedral, Margate) are vividly evoked.

But I found the funereal tone and speed of the book rather oppressive, particularly in the second half. A general sense that life is a disappointing business pervades as we move between hospital and home for the disabled. Meanwhile the quartet inches towards Margate with Jack's ashes in a plastic jar. It's all rather glum.

Swift's earlier book, Waterland, with its less gloomy theme, was for me more enjoyable.
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on 9 July 2016
At the outset there are too many characters and it is not clear who they are. Gets confusing. The book definitely improves and the suspense fills as it progresses. Story a bit somber and depressing, reminding me of the constant human struggle in a tough world. I finished though with admiration for the courage of the war generation
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on 4 August 2015
Not quite sure about Graham Swift. Have tried twice but each time I've the subject matter a little too disturbing. Don't get me wrong, I like pubs and scraps as much as the next man (not), but unlike the feel of say London Fields with its nature of parady; Last Orders takes it to the brink of lawlessness in a first-person narrative.

Probably a good hour teleplay but for me, as a novel, it just didn't work.
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on 7 June 2015
I didn't enjoy this book and didn't finish it which is a very rare event for me. It was far too slow moving with nothing of consequence happening.
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on 30 June 2016
Read this as part of a course. Would have done so otherwise. It was enjoyable, but I wasn't so keen on the multiples points of view. More a personal taste issue, than anything amiss with the writing.
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on 22 August 2013
Initially, I enjoyed the humour of this book but after a time, realised that I was skipping over large sections of it because it was just more of the same. I found the endless account of driving and stopping at the pub and the flashback accounts of Jack in the hospital bed tedious and depressing and decided that life is too short to spend time reading a book which I'm not enjoying. If I'm to stay with a book, I need to like at least one of the characters. I didn't like any of these.
3 people found this helpful
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on 22 May 2012
The perfect book to take on holiday. Very much Graham Swift at his best with an essentially British story of pub culture told with sensitivity and humour. The best reads are those where you are able to empathise with the characters and this is very much the case with Last Orders. A book that can be read more than once.
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on 22 October 2014
An Okay read,bought on the basis of a newspapers 'must read' selection, but found it rather complicated to keep remembering who all the different characters were. All in all,slightly disappointed,and wouldn't rush to recommend it to anyone else.
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