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The Brambles (Vintage Contemporaries) [Kindle Edition]

Eliza Minot
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.95
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $5.96 (43%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

This is the story of the Bramble family--Margaret, Max, and Edie--three adult siblings careening through wildly different byways of adult life. Margaret, mother of three, is about to take her ailing father into the tumult and chaos of her already overcrowded home. Edie is young and single, but struggling mightily to anchor her solitary life. Max, newly married, newly a father, is buckling under the weight of new responsibilities. Over the course of one critical season, a long hidden secret will be revealed, remaking each of them, and all they thought they knew about themselves.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Minot's graceful, candid novel about the meaning of adulthood and the depth of family attachment follows the three siblings of the titular clan as they face the consequences of their life choices. Margaret is an ambivalent mother of three who relinquished her autonomy and former identity as a hip New Yorker for a suburban life of carpools; Max, a new father, quit his job as an independent film producer but hides the truth from his wife by pretending to go to work every day; depressed, lonely 20-something Edie struggles with singlehood and a newly acquired eating disorder. Now, they must cope with their widowed father, Arthur, who moves into Margaret's home to suffer through the final stages of cancer. There is also the matter of a long-held family secret, revealed, of course, when they least expect it. Minot (Susan's sister and author of The Tiny One) has a refreshing, contemporary voice, and even the most mundane moments—Edie talking to herself in the car, Margaret's daughter dancing on the lawn—contain surprising swells of emotion. As it turns out, the revealed secret is melodramatic and far-fetched, but this novel excels all the same, buoyed up by its quiet conflicts and small, gorgeous glimpses at truth.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Minot's elegant second novel follows three siblings as they cope with their father's impending death from cancer, not long after their mother was killed in an airplane accident. The siblings' main preoccupations, though, are more individual. Margaret, a harried mother of three, has difficulty accepting that her children are growing up. Max can't bring himself to tell his wife that he quit his job in a moment of frustration, and he resents the burden that she and their baby son represent. The youngest, Edie, has fewer responsibilities, but is the most adrift, deeply lonely and plagued by an eating disorder. These quotidian problems sometimes seem overwrought, and the book's end brings an unnecessary plot twist, but the precision of Minot's descriptions succeeds in making her characters seem real and sympathetic.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker - click here to subscribe.

Product Details

  • File Size: 248 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400077524
  • Publisher: Vintage (July 18, 2006)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,113,284 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Thoughts August 27, 2006
I really wanted to like this book after reading so many positive reviews prior to its release (including a glowing recommendation from the "Big O" herself!). I just had a very hard time sinking my teeth into it.

I thought the author rambled a lot, going from one thing to another - one scene to a previous time, back to the current scene - way too often. It caused me to wonder where I was in the story and lost my attention and/or interest in the original event. Sometimes I would be reading page after page and wonder where the author was going with this. Some of the narrative felt unnecessary and pointless, like the author really wanted to tell a certain story but couldn't find a place in the book for it, so she turned it into a flashback or a memory for one of the characters. Sometimes this made sense, but more often than not, I felt let down as I finished a chapter. I like to see chapters in a novel flow from one to another, with one scene ending and then blending into the opening scene of the following chapter (kinda like the acts of a play), but in this novel, the chapters and charatcer's stories didn't quite seem to fit all together.

I also thought the twist (or "big reveal") was somewhat unbelievable and confusing. I don't want to give anything away for those who still wish to read this, but what was the point of the character who rumaged through the garbage? I thought the final explanation for this character's purpose was totally ridiculous and certainly didn't fit in with the rest of a story (it almost seemed like a conclusion you'd come to at the end of a bad romantic comedy). I found myself scratching my head asking "HUH?" and had to read the explanation a second time, just to be sure i read it right the first time.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings about this one... October 20, 2006
I must admit I'm not quite sure what kind of a review to give this book. On the one hand I liked the characters and the story, but on the other hand it is an extremely slow read for a 240+ page book.

Margaret, Max and Edie are siblings whose mother has died in a plane crash and whose father is dying of cancer. Each sibling is also going through their own problems (Margaret is finding the middle class life of having a husband and three kids too demanding, Max has quit his job and has not yet told his wife who suspects him of having an affair, and Edie is living a lonely existence in NYC while trying to deal with an eating disorder.) Each character is well defined and likable, and their individual stories are interesting. There were even a few laugh-out-loud moments that I enjoyed.

The problem with this book is that it is too bogged down with a great deal of metaphorical descriptive imagery - "He had the sensation that living in the world was like living inside of a hollowed egg, an egg that was like a Constable painting" or "The crickets and cicadas buzzing and rattling, whirling like alarms, sizzling like a table saw or meat dropped into a frying pan, the winking ember of fireflies, the hulking trees sunken into the warm dark like giant blots." If you like that kind of writing, then this is definitely the book for you because there is an awful lot of it, but it just made for a slow read for me.

Some other reviewers were bothered by the way the story seemed to flip-flop from past to present. That did not bother me so much, but the "secret", when finally revealed was very anti-climatic and I kept wondering why the author even decided that it was needed.

As I said there were some enjoyable moments, and the author does have a good sense of human nature, so for that I'll give this one 3 stars.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I really liked the characters.... August 21, 2006
.....but I had trouble staying WITH the book due to the VERY lengthy descriptions. This book is full of more similes than I've seen since I learned about them in HS English class. Margaret is wound SO SO TIGHT and the fact that she wants more kids is a bit hard to believe. And I have a great husband, but hers is a bit saintly to believe. The part about siblings having different ways of dealing with losing a parent is right on the money and how no one understands how the other siblings are acting the way they do. It truly helps understand "adult sibling relationships" but the "twist" isn't explained as fully or as soon as it possibly should be and the ending totally left me hanging. I thought it was just a strange ending. I'm glad I read it - I think I just found it a bit odd - especially the lady that hit them hiding in the trash? Is anyone with me on this?
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Is This Chic Lit??? August 13, 2006
Has it finally happened? Am I just too old for some authors now... I am 50 (ouch)... could it be that I am not cool enough for this type of thing? I really wanted to enjoy this...but this young womans voice did not resonate with me...the "secret" was totally ridiculous...such a talented writer but a really irritating book.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the wait! August 13, 2006
I've been a fan of Eliza Minot's since THE TINY ONE was published, and I'd just about given up hope that she'd come through with another novel. THE BRAMBLES was worth waiting for.

It has been mentioned in other reviews, but I can't help adding that Minot's description of suburban motherhood is freaky in its perception and accuracy. Her observations are complex and funny and if you're someone who happens to have a sister who's also a suburban mother, it's just about impossible to not put the book down to call her and say, "Just listen to this paragraph!"

The book's not perfect--a surprise at the end felt more tacked-on than organic. But I've been recommending this book far and wide, as it is just spot on: in its portrayal of the modern family, the experience of losing a parent, the daily grind and joy of caring for a young family, and the subtle manipulations of sibling relationships.

I really, really hope the wait isn't quite so long for the next one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great reading!
Published 1 month ago by Mathias Reinhardt
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth your time
I really did not enjoy this book. After finishing it, I don't even really know what the point was. I don't fully understand the twist at the end or why it was even necessary. Read more
Published on August 26, 2009 by L. Foster
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings
The Brambles

The book starts out with a mother/father whom now have grown children and are looking to rent a place. Read more
Published on July 17, 2008 by Tonya Speelman
1.0 out of 5 stars It's finally OVER!
OK, So I think this book would be better titled "The Rambles"... I had never read any of Minot's work before but seen this book on amazon. Read more
Published on May 4, 2008 by M. Henson
3.0 out of 5 stars almost good
there's some really great stuff here. i especially liked the perspective on motherhood. but the plot twist that comes about 3/4 through the book and totally out of nowhere did not... Read more
Published on April 20, 2008 by katie78
4.0 out of 5 stars Great characters, so-so story
The adult characters in this book are exceptionally well-drawn, especially Margaret. Perhaps I'm extra appreciative because they are superficially similar to me, but I have never... Read more
Published on March 3, 2008 by pen name
1.0 out of 5 stars The Brambles
This book missed the mark. I'm not much for soap operas but if I wanted to indulge I'd watch one on T.V. and not waste my time reading one.
Published on December 30, 2007 by J. Van Buskirk
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for anyone who struggled in their father/daughter...
I loved this book. It made me laugh as well as cry. I think those who had struggles with their own father will identify with this book the main character. Read more
Published on September 22, 2007 by Jennifer Laub
4.0 out of 5 stars It's all about every-day "changes"
Arthur Bramble, widowed patriarch of the Bramble clan, is moving east to live with his daughter Margaret during his final stages of cancer. Read more
Published on August 29, 2007 by Armchair Interviews
1.0 out of 5 stars sophomore writing
This rambling book is worse than a high-schooler's attempt at writing fiction. It has little plot, and no connectedness. The ridiculous "reveal" was contrived and unbelievable. Read more
Published on August 26, 2007 by smudge
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