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Girl Reading: A Novel Hardcover – February 7, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451655908
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451655902
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #706,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Seven stories spun over seven centuries are connected by a slender, yet tensile, thread. Just like classic novel plots, certain artistic motifs are repeated, reimagined, and reinterpreted again and again through the centuries. Ward takes six existing (and one wholly imagined) portraits of women reading, fashioning fascinating fictional accounts of both artist and subject for each one. Beginning with Simone Martini’s Annunciation (1333) and culminating in the not-so-distant future with a climactic tale revolving around the only image that is a figment of the writer’s imagination, these thematic chapters have much to say about the nature of womanhood, relationships, and the creative process. Though sure to evoke comparisons to Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, this book-club natural stands on its own merits. --Margaret Flanagan

Review

“A real wow of a first novel…incredibly clever.” The Times (London)

Book of the Week: "Katie Ward’s assured debut is inspired by that mysterious and provocative subject of a thousand visual images: a woman reading . . . In each chapter Ward twists a story around real works of art. Her seven unpredictable tales serve up a lively, irreverent and even feminist journey through history.
Time Out (London)



Book of the Week: "This isn’t a novel – it’s a time machine! Well, nearly. As each chapter transports you to a completely different century, you’ll find yourself wondering if Ward has her very own Tardis … I guarantee the stories will relate to your own life in some way – if you’re planning to pack any holiday books this year, make sure Girl Reading is one of them." Cosmopolitan (UK)

"Girl Reading is a debut of rare individuality and distinction. Katie Ward inhabits each of her seven scenes, her seven eras, with a fluent and intuitive touch, and sentence by sentence, deft and mercurial, she surpasses the readers’ expectations. What is set down on the page has a rich and allusive hinterland, so that the reader’s imagination has a space to work, and what is unsaid has its own fascination. The writing is full of light and shadow, alive with fresh and startling perceptions.” –Hilary Mantel, author of the Man Booker Prize winning Wolf Hall

"Ambitious in range and technically impressive...[Girl Reading] is undoubtedly the work of a writer to watch." --Kirkus

More About the Author

Katie Ward was born in Somerset in 1979. She has worked in the public and voluntary sectors, including at a women's refuge and for a Member of Parliament. She took a career break in order to write her debut novel, after coming across an article about a book of portraits of women and girls reading.

Katie lives in Suffolk with her husband and her cat. She likes lots of things, including: city breaks; bubble baths; Earl Grey tea; books; watching DVDs of The West Wing and Mad Men; theatre; pyjamas; dancing; and art.

www.katieward.co.uk
Tweet me @katiewardwriter

Customer Reviews

Each story is unique.
Raj K Lal
I finished reading the book last night, and I now want to read the book again, in the knowledge of its ending.
V. Grand
Too bad as it's an interesting premise.
Reading Advocate

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By V. Grand on June 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
How to describe a book like Girl Reading? Comparisons have been drawn with Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, and I understand why. Several stories, all with one thing in common - they are based on a picture of a woman reading a book. Each story is complete in itself, and sufficiently compelling to draw you in.... you suspect there's a connection, you vaguely wonder what; then when you get to the end and find out what you have been reading... it is a truly unique and amazing story. I finished reading the book last night, and I now want to read the book again, in the knowledge of its ending. This book is original and captivating. Highly recommended!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Fact checking! on April 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Half-way through the third chapter, I was waiting for the characters to check out their Facebook pages in the midst of the melodrama. How convenient that all attitudes align so perfectly with modern mores. Let's just pluck people out of one time and stick them in another. Barbara Cartland is more believable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Emmi331 on March 30, 2014
Format: Paperback
This could have been an enormously enjoyable book for me. Unfortunately, I checked out of it early. For some reason, the author does not use quotation marks when there is dialogue. I'm sure it's meant to give a sense of immediacy to the conversation, but it comes across as a literary affectation that made the story confusing for this reader. Often I couldn't tell whether someone was saying something or it was part of the general narrative. The book has a great premise - too bad Ms. Ward's lack of punctuation annoyed me too much to finish it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Truffaut015 on April 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this beautifully written book, especially the author's resistance to slick closure of each segment. But, when I completed the final section, I found myself thinking, So what? The journey had been quite pleasurable, but nothing in the book stimulated new ideas, or threw fresh perspectives on traditional ideas, or even forced me to think at more than a surface level. The one exception was the segment about the flickr streaming of images of women reading, but it even shied away from the implications of the mass circulation of photographs of strangers, sometimes taken without thei consent, on the web and via the Internet.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Six out of the seven short stories were interesting even though the book itself wasn't what I expected at all. (I think I'm just not cut out for the short-story genre.) It was a good read as each story could be read at one sitting - and they were all very different from each other.

Girl Reading
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Saved on August 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Can't turn the page fast enough. In Girl Reading, a debut novel, Katie Ward paints seven portraits of girls reading--their lives, their conflicts, their passions, their griefs. The author's prose is rich, her syntax spare, exact, sometimes provocative, sometimes surprising, usually delightful. From the start we are caught up in the characters, the stories of the young women who read. We watch with them. We weep with them. We wonder, what comes next.

On its skeletal level, the work yolks together two disciplines--painting and writing. As a painter uses tempera, oil, camera, or video to paint a picture that tells a story, so this author uses words to create the same. Seven stories--each one evocative of a unique dilemma; and the characters, almost flesh and blood, reflect their age. Seven ages of the human race flow from and ping back to seven images. In the end, a synchronicity: the last section knitting together all parts into a whole, and, with a start, we discover the story at its heart, the unity of the work.

The reader comes to a deeper understanding of the early and late Renaissance, the Victorian era, the twentieth century, the present, and beyond. Themes include humanity's inability to see, to know the truth, given the social constructs and limitations which inhibit understanding. And the core image of a girl reading, in this context, is ironic.

The book is a must for all serious readers interested in history and the direction of literary fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By book beach bunny on September 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Overall I liked the short stories and wasn't disappointed to read. The Angelica Kauffman story was the one that saved the book for me and I believe that was solely due to the subject matter of having lost someone you love and the situation that I'm currently in. It was just one of those stories that you connect with and speaks to you more because of what you're going through. My problem with the other stories is I had a harder time getting into the minds of those characters.

The last story Sincerity Yabuki Sibil is set in the future and the one that ties all the other artwork together and stories together and does so quite interestingly and strongly. I liked especially that it dealt with the way we looked at art and life and interconnection in the future. What happens when most of our lives is based in artificial reality? What happens when we never get to see real art but only representations? What if we could interact with works of art?

But I didn't connect with any of the other stories as much as those or find any of them that interesting. The lack of quotations, as others have pointed out, was distracting and annoying. In some of the stories I would have liked a little more about the art itself. So I liked the book overall but only based on two stories and only for personal reasons did I connect with the one story so deeply.
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