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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 21 April 2010
Kissing Alice Recommended to me by a friend who knows the author I was more than pleasantly surprised. I absolutely loved it. Beautiful prose and really easy to read. Compelling and very cleverly created, yet drawn around such a simple idea, that a book could touch so many lives in so many different ways, and be a thread of continuity for good and bad, between 3 generations of a family. The other thing that resonated deeply with me was the evocative portrait of ordinary working class family life from early 20th century onwards, delivered as much by what the characters don't say or communicate to each other as by what they do. I can't wait to read another Jacqueline Yallop book - let's hope she is working on it right now!
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on 15 July 2014
Had no idea what to expect when I started reading this but loved it; darker than I had been led to believe from the blurb and so wonderfully written; the female characters each suffering and none of them able to come to a resolution with any of the others; Alice the most damaged by her childhood but Florrie equally so,; though emotionally; the book whose identity and value emerges at the end of the novel; I would definitely recommend Kissing Alice to any reader
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on 4 May 2010
This is a family story of love, betrayal, jealousy, rivalry, envy, and all the other emotions which might occur in any family, but this story has a dark side to it. The illicit possession of the beautiful "Songs of Innocence and Experience" by William Blake sets events in motion which nobody could have forseen. The intensity of feelings as the story moves forward makes you stop and think on numerous occasions, and I found myself re-reading passages several times.
Jacqueline Yallop's obvious talent for using the English language to it's illustrative best shines throughout. Her ability to set the scene for us is truly impressive - you could almost smell the dust and grime settling around you as you read, making you feel you were really in that post-war world of the Craythornes. Her style of writing is a delight to read, holding your attention throughout, from the horrors of the trenches, to the hardship of the following years, and then the respite of the balmy summer days by the sea, it's all there, vividly potrayed.
This book has been the best one I have read in a long time, and I know I will read it again. Let's hope it's just the first of many more to come!
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on 25 November 2009
This book deserves a longer review than the ones above - though their five star ratings seem justified, to me. It's a great read, which is the first thing to say. The story moves along quickly, and really pulls you through. It's hard to put down. But it's not in any way 'trashy'. It's more than just a good story, and actually I found that it worked best when I slowed myself down and read carefully. The language is highly loaded - the imagery is sophisticated and almost every scene works on a number of levels. There are resonances with William Blake (it is his illustrated poems that run through the novel)and with painting, with religious rites etc and the 'morality' of it is odd and shifting. I read a review in the Times that called it 'disturbing' and I really think it is. It kind of lingers! It's a pretty impressive piece of debut fiction, and I recommend it for those who like their books to have some substance. I teach English and it would be great to talk about with my students, or for a book club.
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on 25 January 2012
I really enjoyed this novel, which, as other reviewers have pointed out, should be entitled "The Book", since it is a tale which involves the adventures of a mysteriously beautiful book at the hands of two, maybe three , generations of a family, far more than it involves the kissing of Alice! Sounds boring? No - it's certainly not that. The principal characters develop believably; it is all written in the nicely accessible third person and (mercifully) in the past tense. The novel comes in sections, one per main character, though not entirely from that character's point of view. The time-scale is one of many years, but this does not detract from the book's interest or from its excitement, since the sections overlap each other. The ending is, I suppose, a happy one, but not untinged with a sadness which pervades the entire story. I thoroughly recommend this to any prospective reader.
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This is quite a strange book. It starts with Arthur, a decorator just before the war, stealing a book from a house he is decorating. From that point onwards, the book is pretty much the main character in this story. He can't read it, but he takes it home and looks at the pictures. Later, during the First World War, he learns to read and when he goes back home he reads it with his younger daughter, Alice. This is where things turn a bit unpleasant, as hinted at in the blurb.

Basically, the remainder of the story is the book being passed from pillar to post, Alice being a bit strange, and not a lot else really. One of the worst things about this book is that it's completely emotionless. I felt nothing for any of the characters and found it all very matter of fact.

I think the author is a good writer but just needs to inject more feeling into her work. However, it's clear from the other reviews that most people don't agree with me and have loved the book, and so perhaps this is one of those books you either love or don't.
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on 18 January 2010
Really nicely written - a treat - on every page there's a phrase or piece of description that stays with you. I thought from the title that the book might be a bit soppy, but absolutely not - this is serious stuff, dark and quirky...especially the first half. Not quite so good towards the end, but still one of the best things I've read in ages.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 October 2010
Arthur is working as a painter and decorator in a cathedral close, moving books from a library, prior to setting starting the paintwork. He's bored, a bit disgruntled, and he opens the pages of one of the books: "The pages alarmed him, the gusts of colour, summer-blue flashes, swirls of pinks and reds bleeding together, taut figures, a half-dog beast, a fan-tailed bird coasting into heaven on pale breezes." Arthur steals the book and takes it home.

I really don't quite know what to make of this book. It is written as if the people in it are not quite in charge of their own thoughts or their own impulses. They can't explain why they do the things they do. I'm not sure where the title of the book comes in because the one thing Arthur doesn't do with Alice is anything so harmless as kiss her.

The rest of this novel is just confusing. There are some shocking and some utterly banal and puzzling events. Queenie May takes to killing mice with a shovel.

So much of this book was dislocated dialogue with no impetus or characterisation. There are no clues to motivation and the subject of child abuse is just skipped over as if it doesn't signify. I don't know what universe the rest of the reviewers here are inhabiting, but it isn't mine.
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on 26 January 2014
I bought this based on the good reviews, but, politely, I'm wondering whether I've read the same book. It started dark and gloomy and became darker and gloomier but, being an optimist, I hoped matters would improve. Deaths of babies not being bad enough, and passed over like no more than a hiccup, there then followed child pornography. Admittedly, I read no further and deleted it from my kindle for good measure, so it may have improved - who knows? I'm happy to say I know no-one who would read and enjoy this book, and I would never recommend it.
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on 10 November 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully written book.It is refreshingly different and I cant wait for this authors next book.
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