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Customer reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars

on 16 June 2012
I've thought about this book a lot, while I was reading it and after I'd finished. It's the most original thing I've read in ages: the story of a man's life, told from the end to the beginning, with each chapter narrated by an entirely different character - young, old, male, female, educated or not. It's an amazing ventriloquist's act. It's very subtle, with the main character appearing in all sorts of different ways, often quite distantly, but always having an effect on the character narrating the story. The narrators he's chosen span the period from the Second World War to the nineties (but in reverse), so the book is partly about how the country has changed over that time.

What I keep finding myself thinking about is what the main character means. It says on the (annoying) back-cover blurb that Greg Harris is an ordinary bloke, but he clearly isn't, and isn't meant to be. For one thing, a couple of the narrators say that he looks like Jesus. I wonder whether he represents the spirit of that generation - formed in the war, crushed in the fifties, blossoming in the sixties and then compromised and betrayed in the seventies and eighties. But I don't know.

The fact that each of the eight narrators has only one chapter, each done in a totally different style, means that you keep having the regret of leaving behind people or voices you've become attached to, and then the disorientation of meeting someone new, whom you might not like. My favourites were Petros Tecklemarion, Arthur Morris and Violet Hoskin.

Neil Ferguson was my writing teacher at the City Lit in London for two terms, back in 2005. I've read a couple of his other books, but didn't read this one until now because someone else on the course said that all the characters in it are horrible. They aren't at all. They're all very absorbing to read, but some of them certainly aren't immediately likeable and sympathetic - especially the second, Alan Lomax - but they are all very human.

I hope more people will find this book. Neil's a really good writer, and his memoir of childhood, Taller Today, is due out soon and is really excellent.
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on 26 February 2007
I have never come across a book written in such a clever way, and it takes a while to realise that it is like a kaleidoscope, a man's life put across by different people whose life he has crossed at differnt times and changed in some way or another, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad, without him even realising. It is told backwards starting with his death and ending with his birth, both in prison. What made me think most about this book is how all of us are different people according to who we are with, and how we may have unwittingly influenced those around us, even in our childhood. How we are remembered by others is all part of a jigsaw puzzle that makes us an individual. The book also covers recent British history, the war, the hippy era, the 70s and 80s. An underrated, brilliant book.
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on 26 September 2013
This was one of my book club choices, so was ordered for this purpose. The book was delivered on time and in the condition in which it was advertised. A really fascinating read.
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on 22 September 2010
I very rarely post reviews on Amazon, but feel compelled to do so in this instance. English Weather is, quite simply, one of the best works of fiction that I've read in many years. Looking at the life of one person through the eyes of those whose lives he touched, it begins with his tragic death and works backwards to his birth during the Second World War. We see snapshots of an extraordinary life as seen by his friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Brilliant and well-executed. Do yourself a favour and read this book.
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