Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Fitbit

Customer reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£7.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 2 June 2017
I got bored with this book and stopped reading it on about page 20. Admittedly, I'm nothing to go by. I think life's too short to carry on reading something you don't really like.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 January 2015
I got increasingly wrapped up in this novel: narrated by Neil Countryman, an English teacher of working class origin, whose life has followed fairly ordinary lines - marriage, children, an aim to write his own book. But Neil's life has another side - his friend since his teens, wealthy John William Barry. As John William moves from just being 'unusual' to dropping out entirely, living a bleak life of a hermit in the deepest, harshest forests of Washington State, Neil pays regular visits, bringing supplies and books, playing chess and discussing the belief of the former in Gnosticism... And compelled by an earlier 'blood oath' never to reveal his friend's whereabouts....
Vivid descriptions of nature and survival; the desperately touching account of John William (mad or wise? Driven to such extreme behaviour by parental failings?) For me the final message was that each man must forge his own path: despite Neil's efforts on his friend's behalf, he had to live his own life most of the time, leaving John William to go his own way.
Unique and extremely readable.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I felt totally gripped by this book as soon as I got to page five, and the line.. "that's how I met the privileged boy who would later become the hermit of the Hoh - the loner who lived in the woods for seven years and who bequeathed me four hundred and forty million dollars". It's hard not to want to read on from there...

"Snow Falling on Cedars", Guterson's first novel, was set in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. This new book takes place there too, and centres around Seattle, focusing on two young teenage boys growing up in the early 1970s. They smoke dope and listen to music, but most of all they like to hike out into the wilderness around the city and be completely cut off from the world.

But as the two grow up, Neil, the narrator, follows a conventional route, whereas John William becomes a hermit in the forest. It's the relationship between the two which the book follows, though there are also lovely sections about how Neil met his wife, talking about his own life as a schoolteacher, and describing American life in general at the time.

A very enjoyable read, I thought, with plenty of evocative detail and enough mystery (with all that money involved) to keep you page-turning. And the ending turns out to be much sadder and stranger than I'd expected too. Not at all formulaic, but still a great involving read.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 November 2008
David Guterson's new novel is both heartfelt and ironic. He draws, to different forms of realisation, two characters that are, of course, the same man who could take two divergent paths (something we can't do in reality). In middle-age so many of us ponder on what might have been but to be still alive and still walking in the mountains is demonstrated to be preferable to be lying dead in them. This fine novel (and that is a compliment) is a counter to false heroism and extremes of behaviour that break our hearts. David Guterson will probably not be a best-seller again but he writes with great compassion about human beings and it is a good thing that we can learn from his musings and ideas.
0Comment| 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 29 June 2011
This is one of those books which I believe you either love or hate. I loved it.....very much so. It deals with complex characters and the effect they have on one another. This is illustrated best in the eponymous John William Barry who struggles with life in the "hamburger world" as he calls it. An only child of wealthy, achieving parents, he is neglected by his mother who, in turn, has mental health issues. His father is painted as a weak individual who seems unable to intervene in what he knows is a cruel way of "parenting".

A chance meeting with Neil Countryman leads to a life long friendship which endures, despite John William's retreat in to the Cascade mountains where he cuts out his own cave by hand and lives off the land. Neil visits him regularly and brings much needed provisions, but after suffering an accident himself, the worst happens to his friend. There is a deeply touching account of Neil coming upon John William's body and his need to leave his friend in a dignified manner. He respects the blood pact he made to his friend that he would never reveal his whereabouts. It is that which runs through the whole book......this promise and how hard it must have been to keep it.

I won't describe anything further..so as not to ruin it for the next reader.

Snow Falling on Cedars was a masterpiece......and this is almost as good. I recommend it
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 December 2009
Some reviewers are dissapointed that this novel is different to Guterson's others, notably "Snow Falling on Cedars" but for me the value of his writing is that each novel is different in style, genre, content and execution. Countryman is not a sympathetic narrator (I do not recollect any of his other novels being written in the first person) partly because he is burdenend by the compromise that he made but which his Other did not. Guterson's writing style remains as fine as ever, a little too fine in fact for the failed writer that his narrator claims to be.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 11 July 2009
This is the third novel I've read by David Guterson and perhaps the best. It explores the friendship between the scion of a wealthy family, John William Barry, who becomes a hermit in the wilds of Washington State, and working class Neil Countryman, who becomes an English teacher. Plotted brilliantly and full of breath-taking descriptions and witty characterisation, this is a very thought-provoking book about the roads we don't take and the ones we do.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 January 2011
Gutterson's writing is always sublime and The Other is no exception to this rule. It is a sublime, and thought-provoking tale of friendship and where it leads us (how we change yet friendship gives us continuity and responsibility that transcends the the boundaries of social living).

If you like a book with a sub-text then you will love this. If you are not afraid to confessing to asking the big questions about choice, freewill, compromise, responsibility, duty, and how to live a good life then you will not be afraid of this book. If your middle aged and pondering how we change and whether one has chosen well or compromised too much, or maybe just searching for something that's personal and gently paced yet engaging, or if you like literary fiction rather than blockbusters, then this is for you. If not well there's plenty of pulp opium elsewhere.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 December 2012
This is a zero star book.

I wish I had the courage to give it up after the first 50 pages , rather than persist with the increasingly forlorn hope that it might get better. The main character being called "John William", the title and the cover perhaps should have given me a clue. " Snow Falling on Cedars" was such a great book. So how very disappointed I was by this offering. It is soooo dull. The story has no interesting or exciting parts. To be honest, it has very little story at all - certainly it all could be summarised very easily in one page. I fear it will be a long time before I risk picking up another Guterson book to read.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 January 2010
Having just inherited a large fortune from his late friend John William Barry, Neil Countryman tells how it all came about. Friends since 1972 when in their their teens the two boys meet while competing against one another in the 880 yards. A friendship grows out of their shared love of the outdoor life and love of exploring the wilds around their Seattle home. On their ventures into the often unknown they would live off their wits and off the land.

But in time Neil settles for a conventional married life and teaching while John William is determined to live according to his beliefs, and starts to live a solitary totally self sufficient life in the Washington wilderness.

The Other is a story rich in detail, perhaps at times a little too much detail as Guterson can become bogged down in creating family histories and local connections. Roughly only half the book actually concerns the friendship the two boys and later young men enjoy. The rest looks into what made the two, and especially John William, what they are.

At its best it is a compelling and moving story, particularly when John William is living his life of recluse with Neil his only contact. But at times it can become a little laborious, and I began to wonder for a while if the book would ever get to discussing the character of John William and their friendship.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse