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The Dead Fathers Club [Kindle Edition]

Matt Haig
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

A ghost story with a twist-a suspenseful and poignantly funny update of Hamlet

A triumph of originality and humor, this clever novel by British author Matt Haig gives us Hamlet redux with an unforgettable voice all his own. When eleven-year-old Philip Noble is confronted by the ghost of his recently deceased father and asked to avenge his death, the boy finds himself in a thorny dilemma. Revenge, after all, is a tricky business-especially when Philip is already distracted by his girlfriend, school bullies, self-doubt, and all the other challenges of adolescence. Viewing the adult world through the eyes of a young boy, The Dead Fathers Club is a brilliant, quirky take on a classic tale.

Editorial Reviews Review

The story of Hamlet is not usually thought of as one meant for laughter. But Matt Haig's able retelling of the tale in The Dead Fathers Club will make you laugh, though it might also evoke a tear. Eleven-year-old Philip Noble is at his father's funeral when who should appear but his father's ghost, who wastes no time in telling Philip that his Uncle Alan, an auto mechanic, tampered with his car, causing the accident that killed him. He warns Philip that Uncle Alan will shortly be tampering with his mother too, because Unctuous Uncle Alan wants the pub that Philip's father owned.

The solution to this problem, according to Philip's dad, is that he must kill Uncle Alan. If he doesn't do it before Dad's next birthday, 11 weeks away, Dad will be consigned to the Terrors for all eternity. Philip agrees, in principle, but killing someone, especially without getting caught, isn't easy. But a promise is a promise, so Philip gives it a whirl, in fact, several whirls. Real life interferes in the persons of two school bullies, truly nasty and perverse thugs, who seem ready to kill Philip because they think it's funny that his father died. Philip also falls in love, and his Ophelia (named Leah) thinks that shoplifting is tons of fun. Poor Philip is in over his head in every way possible. There are many encounters with other Dead Fathers in a great sendup of ghostly dealings, Hamlet-like, on the moors, and several sly references to the play. There is even a character named Dane. The ending is not pure Shakespeare, but it is pure Haig and that is very good indeed. --Valerie Ryan

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Haig (The Last Family in England) creatively reanimates themes from Hamlet with an 11-year-old British protagonist who is commissioned to avenge his father's murder. After Philip Noble passes his hand through his father's flickering spirit at the funeral, Dad reveals the truth: it was conniving auto mechanic Uncle Alan who orchestrated the automobile "accident" that claimed his life, and Philip must kill Uncle Alan by dead Dad's next birthday—barely 11 weeks away—or he'll be consumed forever by the Terrors. Time is fleeting, however, as repugnant Uncle Alan has already begun to put the moves on Philip's mother and has taken over the family pub's operations. In animated, adolescent prose, Philip, goaded on by his father's ghost, plots his uncle's murder. Besides the time-sensitive obligation, Philip must also contend with the slings and arrows of adolescent life: friends, girls, meddling schoolteachers, bullies and peer pressure. The plucky hero impressively navigates the gloomy, pungent waters of retribution, death and guilt, and Haig does an enviable job of leavening a sad premise through the words and actions of a charming, resilient young man. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 333 KB
  • Print Length: 348 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670038334
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (February 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000OCXFV0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,185 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure voice in a boldly written tale sparks magic July 29, 2007
Loved it! Once started, it was one of those books I really looked forward to the time I could spend enjoying it. Haig's way of letting Philip tell his tale is bold and refreshing. I found the writing style intuitive rather than bothersome (and I'm an editor); it was an easy, quick read.

Haig has an incredible knack for resurging in us the bittersweet feelings and perspective of being a preteen--life's general confusion, uncertainty, anxiety, innocence and wonder--even if you didn't have to deal with deaths at that age!

While there were funny parts throughout, the chapter toward the end with the grandmother Nan and Philip was brilliantly hilarious. I would like to read that chapter again and again just for the kicks it gives on its own. Anyone who's had an elder family member in their midst can relate.

Big thanks and kudos to Matt Haig for writing this one--and doing it just the way he did.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Affecting November 17, 2007
The conceit of this book - Hamlet, in the form of a modern-day 11-year-old English kid - is a interesting lark. If you know nothing about Hamlet, you can enjoy this book about a troubled kid dealing with his own and his mother's grief (and school bullies), though it will seem very dark if you're unaware of the plotline to come. But the more you remember about the play, the more you'll enjoy it. You'll recognize Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, several key plot points and settings and speeches. And of course Philip's problems are the exact same as Hamlet's. I initially enjoyed the parallels, but as I drew nearer to the end of the book I got very concerned because, obviously, you hope for a happier ending for this kid. My lips are sealed at the ending, but I will say I did not regret reading the book.

Other points
- It is extremely ambiguous whether or not the dad's ghost is real. I think trying to figure this out was the most interesting part of the book. I'm still not certain. Very cleverly done.
- This is told using the logic and grammar of a kid going through a trauma. "Curious Incident" is a much better book that uses this same device. I loved that book. In this book, the run-on sentences and odd logical flow were very effective sometimes, but at other times I found them to be annoying/distracting. If you can't stand books that don't use standard conventions like quotation marks, this is not the book for you. Or maybe try the audiobook version.
- I enjoyed this book, but I honestly didn't find it to be funny. Maybe you have to be English to get some of the humor? Philip does make some keen observations which from adult perspective are witty. But there was much more tension in this book than humor to me.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
THE DEAD FATHER'S CLUB is loosely based on Shakespeare's HAMLET. Eleven-year-old Philip Noble loses his father in a car accident. Shortly thereafter, Brian Noble begins appearing to his son as a ghost, telling him his brother Alan had tampered with the brakes. Brian wants Philip to kill his brother.

The Shakespeare allusion continues when Alan begins to pursue Philip's mother. There's even a TV movie that's a lot like the play in Hamlet. Alan also begins to interfere in Brian's former business, a pub called the Castle and Falcon.

The similarity between the Shakespearean play and Haig's book ends with the narrator. We're not sure if Philip really sees his father's ghost or if he's having a nervous breakdown. The ghost also isn't that reliable. He keeps getting Philip in trouble.

Philip has a number of tormenters besides his father's ghost, mainly two bullies, Dominic Weekly and Jordan Harper, who refer to him as "schizo." They are relentless. They pursue Philip all over the school and out into the neighborhood. About the only time the ghost actually helps Philip is during a Rugby match.

I had some problems with a scene where Philip does an awfully advanced chemistry experiment for an eleven-year-old, but I imagine Haig needed it for plot purposes. There are also some philosophical meanderings that seem beyond a young boy. During one of Philip's emotional traumas Philips thinks to himself: "I thought why am I me why am I not a fish why am I not a loaf of bread why am I alive and most people are dead how do I know Im me how do I know Im alive . . ." That said, Haig does a fantastic job with Philip's "voice." His inability to make up his mind about just about everything is entirely appropriate for an eleven-year-old as well as Hamlet.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
British writer Matt Haig makes his American debut with The Dead Fathers Club, a story that owes a bit to Shakespeare (Hamlet) and a great deal to Haig's fertile imagination, humor, and ability to tug on heartstrings.

Protagonist Philip Noble is an 11-year-old boy who lives above a pub, the Castle and Falcon, which his family owns. He has just lost his father. Death came in an automobile accident but Philip's father isn't totally gone as he appears to Philip at his wake.

It seems that when fathers are murdered they become members of the Dead Fathers Club, and this is not an association that Philip's dad wished to join. He informs his son that his death was not an accident but was planned by sneaky, conniving Uncle Alan, an auto mechanic, who put the kibosh on his car. Further, Philip is told that he must avenge his dad's death and he must do it rather quickly - before his late father's next birthday.

Now, this is a pretty tall order for a young boy who is already having difficulty dealing with life let alone death. There are school bullies, pretty girls, lessons to be done, panic attacks to be overcome and other attendant vicissitudes of simply being a pre-teen boy.

Nonetheless, when he realizes that the villainous Alan has eyes for his mother and to taking over the pub, Philip realizes that something must be done.

Twelve-year-old Andrew Dennis won last year's BBC Audiobooks "Voice of Bath" competition, and one knows why when hearing his reading of The Dead Fathers Club. He aptly expresses Philip's doubts, fears, and determination. This is an audiobook that will be enjoyed by both adults and young listeners.

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Important (Anti)Bullying Themes
This is described as a modern day retelling of Hamlet, but it's not a direct, scene-for-scene retelling. To me, it seems more accurate to say it was loosely inspired by Hamlet. Read more
Published 1 month ago by EpicFehlReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Matt Haig is officially one of my favorite authors
You can read this review and more on my blog, Caught Read Handed.

You guys know how much I love Matt Haig (I mention The Humans like once a week) and last month read and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Stefani Sloma
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by Hsiu Chang
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Piece of Work, but... Not Funny
I hope it doesn't spoil the story for anyone to point out it is a retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet. This fact seems to be widely known, and it was my reason for reading it. Read more
Published 19 months ago by S. J. Ziegler
5.0 out of 5 stars Just excellent.
This is one of the few novels I've read with a unique voice and an unconventional, stream-of-consciousness writing style that was also easy to read and understand. Read more
Published on March 27, 2011 by Shannon Mawhiney
British writer Matt Haig made his American debut with The Dead Fathers Club, a story that owes a bit to Shakespeare (Hamlet) and a great deal to Haig's fertile imagination, humor,... Read more
Published on December 25, 2010 by Gail Cooke
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed it - very well done!
This quirky modernization of _Hamlet_ turned the classic tragedy into a sort of English comedy. Usually a lack of proper punctuation drives me mad, but in this eleven-year-old's... Read more
Published on September 11, 2010 by Yolanda S. Bean
5.0 out of 5 stars An eleven year old Hamlet
Philip Noble is eleven when his Dad, who owned a pub in the East Midlands, is killed driving his car because the brakes failed. Read more
Published on August 17, 2010 by Ralph Blumenau
4.0 out of 5 stars a typically droll English sense of humor
The Dead Father's Club, by Matt Haig (328 pgs., 2006). Do ghosts exist? If they do exist, do they always tell the truth? Read more
Published on May 21, 2010 by R. A. Frauenglas
3.0 out of 5 stars Great narrator, odd but enjoyable story
After young Philip Noble's father dies in a car crash, his ghost appears claiming that he was murdered by his brother (Philip's Uncle Alan). Mr. Read more
Published on April 8, 2010 by L. Jones
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