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on 26 April 2017
Most boring book I have ever read. Absolutely no plot and whining character.
So disappointed
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on 5 May 2011
A black comedy, Tilly, successful in her work as an engineer on an oil-rig, marries lazy, `anything for a quiet life' Geoffrey with his two miserable children.

We join the story when we find that Tilly has not been consulted about the wedding of his son - the family know that that particular date is always ear-marked for the date in June when Tilly has to undertake an annual inspection - unexpectedly, however, she finds she is suddenly able to attend. I loved the last sentence of the chapter which says it all, ``I was as free as anyone to celebrate the beginning of Tara and Harry's life together. And start looking forward to the end of our own."
She doesn't pretend to be a `nice' person. She can hold her own in business, can bed lovers when away from home, uncomplainingly foots the bill for alternative treatment for Geoffrey's first wife's cancer and looks after his children on and off for twenty years. But she can't grasp the freedom she desperately seeks.

Anne Fine is the master of the deeply flawed character, the situations that people get themselves into and can't escape, at least, not polite intelligent middle England types inured by a lifetime of being expected to accept far too much from each other. It is extremely witty and is surprisingly sensitive. You can't really like Tilly, but you feel for her in many ways. I loved the book, and was delightfully appalled by the ending. Thoroughly recommended.

Available on Kindle, but too expensive - I already have the paperback - would have bought a Kindle copy had it been reasonably priced.
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on 18 September 2009
Geoffrey is a lovely man in most respects. Marriage to the impossible Frances has broken down but he gets his two children, Minna and Harry, for tea once a week and to stay every other weekend. He is kind and considerate, but he doesn't like to confront trouble, so he evades the truth rather too often.

His girlfriend Tilly is quite a different sort of person. It's her house they are living in and she has rather a good job as an engineer, ensuring that oil rigs don't break down. Tilly has done all she can to fit in with Geoffrey's family, but she still feels as if his ex-wife treats her like a suspect and incompetent baby-sitter, so it's probably good that Tilly is away a lot with her job.

Tilly is the narrator of this tale so we only get her version of things, but it is not hard to see through the acerbic persona she favours to the somewhat embittered and revengeful monster lurking within. A lot of what Tilly espouses is feminist good sense. Men, it is true, prefer on the whole not to confront what is going on behind their back. They are good at swallowing the gruel with the caviar and looking on the bright side. But women like Tilly are not inclined to let them get away with it. Tilly catches on to Geoffrey's moral dissembling once too often, and she decides to have her final revenge.

This is a beautifully enraged and lucidly intelligent little story, full of spite and elision and sparkling with the kind of wit that delights and half-shocks. The ending, however, might be a shock too far.
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on 18 April 2007
Raking the Ashes is another brilliant book from Anne Fine, although Telling Liddy remains my favourite.

The book discusses the breakdown of a relationship from the point of view of the woman, Tilly. She is a feisty and confident, a health and safety engineer on an oil rig. Tilly is a woman you go to if you want a problem solved, not for a sympathetic hearing. She has no female friends, a dementing mother, and an ambivalent relationship with her stepchildren.

Her partner is kindness and consideration itself; everyone loves him. But, he will do anything to avoid confrontation, preferring to stick his head in the sand no matter what the problem.

The book is the story of the relationship, with Tilly considering leaving but then not quite managing it.

Anne Fine always writes well and this book is no exception.

Why not 5 stars? Well, the ending felt a little tacked on to me. Otherwise, as a dissection of human foibles, this book is highly recommended.
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on 23 June 2014
This book is a compelling read and the reader is taken inside the mind of the narrator. At times I felt irritated that she didn't just leave him. I wanted her to get up and go but I could empathise. It is hard to leave relationships plain and simple. The ending felt a bit 'tacked on' and not in keeping with what had happened. It was as ifs she couldn't think of a suitable ending so decided to kill him off conveniently. It was a pointless end and could have been more dramatic if their parting had been a dramatic one involving surprise and shock.
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on 13 July 2016
Although this book is competently written and jogs along quite easily, it lacked a sense of development of the characters who remained fairly monotone throughout. The ending was rushed and didn't seem to fit in with the preceding story. Ultimately, I finished the book not caring about the characters or their lives particularly.
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on 12 February 2011
I do like Anne Fine's adult books! Her characters are so human and yet gloriously flawed and Tilly and Geoff are no exception. I guess who your sympathies are with in this book says something about the kind of person you are inside - so I shan't say who my sympathies are firmly with!
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on 3 January 2012
This is such a great book couldn't put it down, such a great story line - Anne Fine is a very clever author. I loved the story and how realistic it is - marvellous book!
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on 21 April 2013
Interesting book, enjoyed the story, though the ending was somewhat bewildering. Good take of modern relationships though. Worth a read.
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on 25 July 2015
I thought it was brilliant until the end, which I thought was extreme.
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