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"I exist!" exclaims Ruby Lennox upon her conception in 1951, setting the tone for this humorous and poignant first novel in which Ruby at once celebrates and mercilessly skewers her middle-class English family. Peppered with tales of flawed family traits passed on from previous generations, Ruby's narrative examines the lives in her disjointed clan, which revolve around the family pet shop. But beneath the antics of her philandering father, her intensely irritable mother, her overly emotional sisters, and a gaggle of eccentric relatives are darker secrets--including an odd "feeling of something long forgotten"--that will haunt Ruby for the rest of her life. Kate Atkinson earned a Whitbread Prize in 1995 for this fine first effort. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The narrator's insistent voice and breezy delivery animates this enchanting first novel by a British writer who won one of the 1993 Ian St. James Awards for short stories. Ruby Lennox is a quirky, complex character who relates the events of her life and those of her dysfunctional family with equal parts humor, fervor and candor-starting with her moment of conception in York, England, in 1959: "I exist!" Ruby then describes the family she is to join. Her parents own a pet shop; her mother, Bunty, bitterly rues having married her philandering husband, George, and daydreams about what her life might have been. Ruby has two older sisters, willful Gillian and melancholy Patricia. Through its ambitious structure, the novel also charts five generations and more than a century of Ruby's family history, as reported in "footnotes" that follow relevant chapters. (For example, a passage about a pink glass button reveals the story of its original owner, Ruby's great-grandmother Alice, who will abandon her young family and run off with a French magician.) Ruby's richly imagined account includes both the details of daily life and the several tragic events that punctuate the family's mundane existence. Though the "footnote" entries are not quite as gripping as those rendered in Ruby's richly vernacular, energetic recitation, Atkinson's ebullient narrative style captures the troubled Lennox family with wit and poignant accuracy.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Parts of this book were exceptional - beautifully written, wonderful story line and strong character developments. Read morePublished 4 days ago by nigel barnard
I had great hopes for this book after the first chapter or two. But fortunately, I found it drawn out and much too wordy. I found myself skimming pages.Published 16 days ago by Kimberly Quinn
Beautifully written; sometimes dark, sometimes very funny, always an immersive read.Published 18 days ago by margaret c root
So wonderful that I sent it off to a friend instead of just recommending that she read it.Published 20 days ago by Janet R.
Brilliantly layered. Kate Atkinson's style of pushing you back and forth through time to further develop the depths of her stories is very enjoyable.Published 23 days ago by Janine Clemons
This is a richly woven, superbly quirky, family story both tragic and humorous, (nothing "fictional" about that! Read morePublished 23 days ago by Karen Brow
Just finished reading this book but it was so good I may have to start at the beginning again! I truly didn't want it to end!Published 23 days ago by Onyonhill