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Spring Hardcover – March 1, 2011


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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
Acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell's latest book, Landline, offers a poignant, humorous look at relationships and marriage. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224091263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224091268
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,118,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Spring:

"Plenty of novelists have captivated readers with stories of passionate new relationships full of romance, optimism, and hot sex. In Spring, David Szalay pulls off a much harder trick, writing engrossingly about new lovers who manage to go straight to irritation, pessimism and pain. . . . This might be pretty bleak stuff if Szalay were not such a lyrical, precise writer, deftly capturing the hyperawareness that often stands in for real communication between couples. This awkward dance may be anything but dreamy, but it's irresistible to watch." —O, The Oprah Magazine

"[Szalay] doesn't shy away from anything, including awkward sex, in his vivisection of this unpromising affair. The result is an intense portrait of the challenging complexity of really connecting with someone." —Barnes & Noble Review

"Szalay is anything but traditional in his approach to romance. . . . [He] has a modern, understated voice and a gift for writing bursts of funny, yet still sharp, dialogue." —Shelf Awareness

"[A] nuanced and bracingly intelligent dissection of contemporary London life. . . . Szalay provides a sharp and occasionally humorous portrait not only of [James and Katherine] but of the mores of 21st-century romance among those for whom romance has had its old glamour grubbed up a bit by age, world-weariness and the demands of everyday life. Subtle in its psychology, elegantly written, with lively and amusing minor characters--an impressive novel." —Kirkus Reviews

"In Spring the gifted writer David Szalay explores the complex worlds of love and money, each with their surprises and vicissitudes. This novel made me feel in the best way that I was eavesdropping on a series of fascinating conversations. An insightful portrait of contemporary England." —Margot Livesey

"[Szalay] draws his main characters with subtly devastating insight." —The Boston Globe

"Szalay's insights into the perspectives of both sexes illuminate the complexity and fragility of romantic coupling. His knowing eye and exacting prose . . . bring perspicacity to the complications of love." —Publishers Weekly

"[Szalay] gets to the heart of what it means to encounter disappointment and heartache. His characters . . . are skilled in picking up the pieces of their broken lives and moving on to something better, however elusive better may prove to be." —Booklist

"Closely and elegantly observed. . . . Szalay seems to taunt the reader with his near-virtuosic range and his subtle comic touch." —The National Post (Canada)

"Lambent prose, which glitters and glints." —Daily Mail

"A brave venture . . . psychologically realistic." —Financial Times

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Szalay was born in Canada in 1974. His first novel, London and the South-East won the Betty Trask Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. His second novel, The Innocent, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2009. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

In this novel, I didn't care about characters that didn't seem to care about themselves.
Alan A. Elsner
I know that the author intended this as he made so many things go wrong... but I just disconnected and couldn't find the energy to read it till the end.
Rowan
They muddle through their relationship with James not knowing where it is going and Katherine not overly interested where it goes.
Wixby Bonnet

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gary Severance VINE VOICE on November 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Canadian born David Szalay's third novel is an interesting character study of a thoughtful man in London who has had great financial success in the past, but who is now quite passive in his recovery from business failures. In fact, he has some backup money that allows him to live a middle class life but without enthusiasm. He develops a horse race tip service that evolves into the purchase of a steeple chase horse in partnership with an old untrustworthy friend. Both the tip service and the racing of his horse are deceptive, his source of tips an eccentric man with no horse picking or social skills and his horse a second rate nag that is groomed by a disreputable trainer for a surprise win at very favorable odds after a contrived history of mediocre performance.

While unmotivated in his financial life, James is persistently moderately motivated in his relationship with Katherine, a luxury hotel manager. Most of the narration of James involves detailed descriptions of nuances of his interaction with Katherine, who is as passive in love as James is in business. Getting her to kiss him takes maneuvering on his part with many questions like, "Don't you want to kiss me?" Katherine usually answers with statements of uncertainty like, "I don't know." What's not to know, the reader wonders?

Mr. Szalay writes about contemporary symbols in a realistic style, a realism of notions. These include: isolation and solitude, difficulty of interactions, truncated emotions, inflation of information, lack of commitment, and endurance. Szalay is unrelenting in his realism, very nicely crafted, showing the difficulty of people just getting through each day, age, and season.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By K. L. Cotugno VINE VOICE on November 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a very sly book. Initially it starts out as a chick lit romance with a incomprehensibly smitten man and a unusually reluctant but permissive woman, but as the story unfolds, their ;motivations prove not so clearcut. Katherine and James meet at a wedding and embark on a frustrating, inconclusive affair. The reasons for attraction are unclear and not fully explained, but each has histories that are explained in retrospect. He is not quite the pushover he seems, and her attraction remains somewhat elusive. Neither is completely sympathetic or likable, but this makes them more interesting to read about as long as the reader doesn't have to look upon them as friends. What I enjoyed most were the ancillary characters, many of which were more interesting than the two at the plot's center. Backgrounds of hangers on, friends and associates make for some compelling narration, and at times the plot would dogleg into uncharted territory. By book's end I was glad I had stayed with it. Szalay has a true talent for dialogue and almost a Proustian sensibility for sensuous detail. Many references are made to the unique light of London, particularly during this rainy spring when the book is set The reader can see, feel and smell the atmosphere.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Melanchthon VINE VOICE on November 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A series of characters deal with the fallout from a sexual affair in post-boom London. The story is told from the perspective of a series of people involved with the main players, as well as the players themselves.

This book deserves every single word of praise it's gotten on its dust jacket. The author's apparently won several early career prizes. It's amazing to me how well he catches the many shades of gray, the shadows that characterize London, and the lives of these characters, the way he finds to put just the exact detail in the story that catches the entire mood of a scene. Every piece of it is evocative. There's no real joy, no real sorrow -- just the realistic quality of a life and a story that keeps grinding on to a bitter end. One's reminded a bit of Zola in terms of the storytelling and narrative, but the book also has an astoundingly photographic quality. I could see the dirty edges of middle class London as I was reading, and I was sad when the book was over and I had to put it down.

This is an author to watch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lima VINE VOICE on January 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a firm believer that a book's title conveys a lot of power. Thus, a strong title like Spring implies a story of change and rebirth. But, for the most part, that story doesn't exist in Spring. Instead, David Szalay focuses this novel on a little discussed aspect of the spring archetype: hope. To be more specific, the aspect being studied is the hope that change will bring about an improvement in one's situation. While Szalay uses a variety of characters to explore this aspect, most of his examination is focused around a couple, James and Katherine, as they try to realize this hope while dealing with various financial and relationship issues. Szalay effectively captures the feeling of ennui that surrounds these two characters and the other characters that interact with them. However, he spends so much time chronicling their struggles that the reader loses interest in whether they actually realize the goals for which they hope. Compounding those problems are additional issues brought on by the setting. Readers will quickly discover that Spring is a very British story, with numerous physical locations and British behavioral "quirks" mentioned throughout the text. If the reader isn't familiar with the locations and idioms that Szalay uses, then parts of the story will not seem as important as they actually are.

Ultimately, there is some change and rebirth at the end of the book (surprisingly, though, not for all the characters). But, the change seems muted because Szalay focuses mostly on the story's physical and emotional atmosphere, and less on fulfilling the title's promise. Hope can be found in Spring's pages. But, one has to endure a long, hard winter to find it.
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