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It's All Right Now: A Novel Hardcover – May 31, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (May 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060742860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060742867
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.8 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,204,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The most remarkable thing about this extraordinary debut novel is not that the author is 72 years old; it is in the risks Chadwick, a retired civil servant, takes and brings off with astute craftsmanship and touching sincerity. The narrator, Tom Ripple, whose life we follow from the 1970s into the 21st century, is a lower-middle-class Englishman devoid of charm, intellectual curiosity and emotional warmth. Only gradually does the reader come to understand why Ripple's responses are stunted, why his preferred mode of communication is through excruciatingly bad puns and double entendres and why he subsists on a steady diet of television action films and paperback thrillers. When his wife leaves him, taking their two children, he is resigned to loneliness. As the years pass, Ripple cautiously engages in new relationships; he acquires the knack for tender paternal love and true friendship, and he develops an appreciation of music and books that brings him joy. Throughout, he continues to seek meaning in a postmodern world. Chadwick's almost seamlessly subtle portrait of Ripple gathers depth and momentum as the narrative progresses. In the end, Ripple concludes, with typical modesty, that it is "the basic experiences [of life], the ordinary moments of affection and beauty and common kindness that are infinitely precious." It's not an earthshaking thought, but it signifies the metamorphosis of an empty, soulless man into a hero for our times. Agent, Zoe Pagnamenta. (June 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Returning from a trip abroad, Tom Ripple, the diarist narrator of this lengthy début, reflects, "I seem mainly to have recorded trivia, like someone who witnesses an epic battle and sees only the surrounding scenery." Trivia, indeed, consumes many of Tom's musings, but Chadwick's achievement is such that Ripple's small thoughts—slight observations, petty miseries, daily regrets—come to seem worthy of center stage. From young parenthood to early retirement and beyond, Tom gives a painstaking, and often profoundly unflattering, account of his inner life. He loathes his wife and his boss, feels baffled by his children, and lusts after almost every female form. As time passes, however, his understanding is deepened by both loss and success. Following him on this journey may require more stamina than some readers can spare, but, as in life, to reach the end is to complete a story at once ordinary and unique.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Customer Reviews

Tom's is a unique and enthralling narrative voice.
UU Booklady
I read it first and kept telling my husband, "I can't believe that I'm still reading a 679 page book."
Mali Berger
If you do, you will, like me, list it among your favorite reads.
B. Bohrod

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on July 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Charles Chadwick's It's All Right Now is simply a lovely novel, a beautiful read that I was sorry to see end. The narrator, Tom Ripple, begins writing down his thoughts on his life in the early 1970s, essentially so he can look a little more busy at his dull job. He seems to be about thirty at this point and is frankly not a very likeable protagonist. He is married with two children and eventually his wife leaves him. At the start of the novel, his main pasttime seems to be watching television. He keeps writing, however, and as his life progresses, he grows into a likeable, thoughtful man, a good friend, a loving father. There really isn't much of a plot in the novel, no one thing other than Ripple's character development as he searches for meaning in his life, in any life. But with the way Chadwick writes, for some reason, I found I didn't miss the plot. Ripple is a remarkable character and I found myself truly enjoying this novel. It is a rich, highly satisfying work, one that I believe will stay with me for quite some time. Enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ever grow sick of hearing about the next great writer, usually young, usually an enfant terrible?

Then you may be plesasntly delighted to find the book which (I'll admit) takes some time to grow on you....but oh, the rewards are great!

Written by a British civil servant, Charles Chadwick, this book took 28 years to complete(!) and the result is a finely nuanced plot that unfolds slowly, not in the brief snippets of sound bites that we've gotten so used to in real life. This is a book to savor, as Chadwick unfurls the life of Tom Ripple, a man who simply records his perceptions about life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Margiotta on October 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Like one of the earlier reviewers, I was sorry to see Charles Chadwick's It's All Right Now end. The story is a first-person narrative told by Tom Ripple (the everyman who makes "ripples" rather than waves with his life and work), and Mr. Ripple is engaging enough that you miss hearing his story when the 700 plus pages are done.

That said, I am a patient reader, but I thought Mr. Chadwick's editors did him a great disservice letting this book go on so long. There are large portions of the book that are quite tedious and should simply have been cut. Way too much description of setting and characters' looks, which wears on a reader when the book is already so long and so without conventional plot. The most interesting parts of the book are about Ripple's family (we see the family and Ripple develop over about 30 years' time) and his philosophical ruminations on finding meaning in life in the face of the fact that we are all going to die.

Still, as I said above, I was sorry when Chadwick's book ended. Ripple is a bit morose in his musings, but he's smart enough and real enough that I miss hearing from him. This book will stay with me for a long time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Arch Stanton on August 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Let me start by saying it is 100 degrees around here, my air conditioning is broken, and I am sweating like Patrick Ewing.

Yet I am still going to give this book the VERY RARE 5 Stars. I love the glacial pacing of the character development, the deliberate advancing of the plot, and the way Chadwick does sadness. It will make you ache.

Perhaps those who don't care for this book prefer the leaden dialogue and Must See TV pacing of foul crap like "Angels and Demons." Who knows? Put on some Ahmad Jamal, pour a glass or ten of wine, and get lost in the world of Tom Ripple.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William Meisel on July 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree with the previous reviewer. This starts slowly. In fact, at about 120 pages I still wasn't sure I was even enjoying what I was reading. (This is partly affected by the blurb inside the front cover which gives away some plot points, so you are waiting for them to happen as you are reading.) But then, I got sucked in. The book is nothing but the typed thoughts of the main character, but as he gets older, you know more and more about him and his family, and he became a friend I felt I was listening to. The plot of the book could probably be summed up in 5 sentences, so don't read it for plot. Read it if you find you like the author's voice. I found myself genuinely sad at the end of the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Charles Chadwick's sprawling (682 page) novel is an amazing feat. It takes a mighty story to glue a reader's eyes to a tome of this size and that is why this is such an odd victory: there really is no 'story' per se, just the private musings of a man who describes himself as a gray being - "I've noted before, I think, that the impression I seem to give is one of neutrality. I feel pretty neutral about that." Language of this sort becomes not that of ennui but of profound introspection on a perceived common life.

Tom Ripple is a loner, avoiding contact with other humans whenever possible, a man who goes to extremes to just be anonymous. His main driver appears to being convinced that he - and the rest of the world's inhabitants - are simply 'all right'. He avoids interaction with neighbors (even a disarmingly acute need to confront a pederast) and with troubled people in general. His aloof stance creates a safety cocoon for him: "A friendship loomed, making me feel decidedly unfriendly. I accepted of course." Though events occur (in abundance) around him, Ripple skirts them or at best denies any interest in intervention.

Yet despite the continuing pages of interior dialogue by a man removed from the world while walking the turf of that world, there is something about Tom Ripple that creates an indelible character, one of those literary creatures that become part of our vocabulary. Think 'Rabbit Run', 'Catcher in the Rye' and at the same time remember this is the first novel by a 72-year-old author! Quite an achievement. Let's hope there are more books from this Charles Chadwick. Grady Harp, August 05
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