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Ask Alice: A Novel Hardcover – April 13, 2010

3.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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$24.95 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“A great read. It intrigues, diverts, and delights.” (Susan Hill - The Guardian)

“Taylor effectively captures the sense of social upheaval that characterized the 1920s.” (The Spectator)

“D. J. Taylor is remarkably under-appreciated as a novelist.” (Daily Telegraph)

“A clever, stylish entertainment with dark undercurrents.... The book has all the makings of Victorian high drama—a slew of colorful characters, vivid and varied scenes, precipitous changes in fortune, and inescapable revelations of long-buried secrets.” (Atlantic Monthly)

“Taylor traverses turn-of-the-20th-century Kansas and the sparkling social circles of Jazz Age London in this swirl of provocative prose and cleverly conceived characters.... As Alice's life begins to unravel and the stories begin to connect, the narrative takes on the urgency of a finely crafted mystery. The novel is absorbing, wonderfully atmospheric, and loaded with intrigue; it's a wonder Taylor isn't better known.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A page-turner of the highest order. A powerful contribution to the changing practice of historical fiction.” (Philippa Gregory - The Times [London])

About the Author

D. J. Taylor’s Orwell won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. His most recent books are Kept; Bright Young People; Ask Alice; and Derby Day, which was nominated for the Booker Prize and was selected as a Washington Post Best Book of the Year.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus; 1 edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605980862
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605980867
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,796,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This scrupulously well-researched novel is chock-full of historical data that will fascinate any fan of the genre. Akin to a Phillipa Gregory novel, the storyline centers on one woman's adventures and struggle for survival.

Taylor's main character, Alice, is drawn with far less emotional depth and drama than any Boleyn girl, however. She takes steps throughout life's journey with a cool detachment, her inner personality ulitmately elusive and unknowable. In the rare moments we see Alice emotionally naked, she is memorable and identifiable, but then she is forced to close up like a clam.

I believe the author has created this cypher as a metaphor for mysterious manner in which the "weaker sex" was portrayed in Edwardian society (equating women to flowers, etc.) Alice is fettered by the constricts of the era and high society's rules of etiquette, even when she is directly threatened.

This book is densely packed with information; if you choose to read it you will enhance your knowledge and understanding of the historical age it portrays. Do not expect to fully know Alice, the eponymous heroine, who matter-of-factly takes the reader on an enjoyable and satisfying ride.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Okay, this book is proof positive that anyone can get published.! The premise and plot could have been great, but there was zero character development. The characters were written as if they were furniture. There was no hint or glimmer of emotion. And thoughts were exhibited in the coldest fashion. One might as well read about robots in a lab! I would not have thought The Jazz Age could be reduced to this uninteresting drivel by any human! This author needs to start over in 7th grade! It is scary to think there is some automon walking around like this. This book was beyond boring. I know that Amazon suggests that a reviewer recite the plot as a start to a review, but I have to disagree. IMHO readers do not want to read a plot synopsis over and over. We want the opinion of the reviewer. That is what a review is supposed to be. It is such a waste of time to reread the same plot over and over.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was well written and the author had a good command of the descriptive story. I did find the movement from one account of her life to the next to be rapid without any transition from one scene to the next. As one example, she's in the woods alone and bang she's suddenly married to a preacher and living in another state.
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Format: Hardcover
D.J. Taylor is a curious writer - writes well; good, textured use of language, inhabits period well, creates interesting characters, often manages a splendid line in literary pastiche - Kept: A Victorian Mystery, At the Chime of a City Clock, and I pick up a Taylor book, and each time find myself enjoyably appreciating the craft, and forgetting just why I ended up feeling disappointed with the last one -- because there will come a time, around half way through, where everything begins to turn a bit turgid, there is the sense of a lot of repetition, an overdoing of repeated atmosphere.

It is this which makes me puzzle the accolades which have been heaped on this writer. Something, an incisiveness, an economy, is missing.

It isn't that I expect a furiously driving plot - I very much like books where the mystery and depth unfold, and where detail is put in that gives a three dimensionality - but there should always be some sort of superobjective which keeps the author in focus, and avoids the flabby.

And so I found the problem, again, with Ask Alice. A promising story of how a young girl in Kansas in the early part of the twentieth century, from a pretty ruinous start, climbs out of poverty into high society in England, and is later connected with her past again. No spoilers - the dust jacket of the book explains this. I really enjoyed Taylor's evocations of time and place, social observations, the teeming cast of characters, but somehow, instead of all this gathering itself up and ravelling and unravelling with momentum, it begins, after a while, to plod.

There is the frustrating feeling that if only Taylor could vigorously prune his creations, a better story teller would be revealed
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