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Ten Things I've Learnt About Love Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (July 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594205337
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594205330
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Butler’s graceful debut explores life’s heartbreaks, unexpected family bonds, and the search for home. When 29-year-old Alice learns her father is dying, she leaves Mongolia, the latest stopover on her worldly travels, for his home in London. She arrives with little time to say good-bye and is filled with regret. The situation is further strained by Alice’s relationships with her two older sisters, who don’t relate to her freewheeling life, and unresolved tension with a former lover. Concurrent to Alice’s tale is that of Daniel, a 60-year-old homeless man. Daniel, whose health is deteriorating, is fixated on finding the daughter he’s never met. As he seeks her out in the streets of London, he reconsiders his past: notably, a passionate affair nearly 30 years ago. The narrative alternates between Alice’s and Daniel’s perspectives as both struggle with self-forgiveness—Alice feels partly responsible for the death of her mother, and Daniel fears he has failed his daughter. Although it seems destined for their paths to cross, the narrative’s controlled suspense and unanswered questions make for a satisfying tale. --Leah Strauss


The New York Times:
“Butler’s lists have a surprising emotional resonance. They represent her two narrators’ anguished and perhaps futile efforts to organize the sad and turbulent parts of life in an intrinsically chaotic city called London, circa right about now. And they are only the surface layer of a carefully structured story that invites and even requires puzzle-solving. This is a novel deeply committed to unfinishedness—the characters speak in sentences that trail off, plot points are left to be guessed at or pieced together. As a literary technique, the elliptical style is enormously effective, keeping the narrative in a constant, trembling state of tension, which gives the lists a grounding effect. This and the charming, gritty and appropriately damp view of London nearly devoid of any Cool Britiannia elements make for a novel that often evokes strong feeling. …There are a few things in this book that frustrate, but there are many more than 10 to love.”

Daily Beast:
"[An] elegant and tender debut novel...[Ten Things I've Learnt About Love] is no conventional love story, but a sensitive look at the meaning of family."

Kirkus Reviews (starred):
"[A] soulful debut . . . Spare language and an atmosphere of foreboding will keep readers on tenterhooks."

Publishers Weekly:
"Butler's elegant prose makes this a moving debut."

"Butler's graceful debut explores life's heartbreaks, unexpected family bonds, and the search for home. . . . [The] narrative's controlled suspense and unanswered questions make for a satisfying tale."

Library Journal:
“Butler’s poignant first novel has a distinct sense of place and sympathetic characters who have much in common.”

Carla Jean Whitley, Bookpage:
“TEN THINGS I’VE LEARNT ABOUT LOVE explores the intricacies of familial relationships and what an individual is willing to sacrifice to preserve the relationships and the people in his or her life. Combining detailed storytelling with character-revealing lists of 10 things her protagonists have learned to treasure, Butler establishes herself as a talent to watch.”

Vanessa Diffenbaugh, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers:
"Heartbreaking and hopeful, Ten Things I've Learnt About Love crisscrosses London in a layered search for fathers and daughters, family and home. For anyone who has ever wondered where they belong, or to whom they belong—the answer can be found within Sarah Butler's tender debut novel."

Hillary Jordan, bestselling author of Mudbound and When She Woke:
"If this weren't billed as a debut novel, one would never know it. Sarah Butler writes with the deftness and delicacy of a master storyteller, giving us a compassionate, achingly beautiful rendering of a father and daughter."

Lisa Gee, The Independent:
“Graceful and subtle… love, in all its shape-shifting complexity, is at the core of this novel; that and the consequences – good and bad – of keeping secrets…  The shifting and intricate dynamics of family life, and the vertiginously painful feelings of loss induced by relationship breakdown and bereavement, are written with imaginative precision.  This is a thought- as well as emotion-provoking novel…  It also sparkles with hope.”
John Harding, The Daily Mail:
“Increasingly suspenseful… a moving and satisfying debut”
Marie Claire (UK):
“This poignant novel about fathers and daughters, homecoming and restlessness, is also a love letter to London…  Butler has viewed the city in all its weathers and moods, and this shines through on every page.  Equally elegant are her observations of the emotional turmoil of her main characters as they pace the capital’s highways and byways, united by a secret… A moving, life-affirming debut.”

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Customer Reviews

10 reasons to read the book.
E. M. Bristol
It's a story of not feeling like you belong, of longing for connection, and, most of all, the need to love and be loved.
Larry Hoffer
The characters are not very likeable and the storyline is weak at best.
Sharon A Byron

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lincs Reader on March 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The book is beautifully presented, the front cover design is gorgeous and really catches the eye, I think that it alone will draw a lot potential readers to investigate the book.

This is a story about trying to belong, about fathers and daughters, about loss and memories, about hope and about coming home. The story has two narrators; Alice who has just returned to London after travelling abroad, she's come back to the house that never really felt like a home, back to find her Father at the end of his life and back to face the criticism and pity of her two older sisters. Daniel is the other narrator, his story is told from the streets of London, from homeless shelters, doorways and parks. Daniel has desperately been looking for someone for many years, catching glimpses of her hair, searching the abandoned newspapers in the hope that he may see her name printed there. During the first half of the book, these two stories appear to be completely separate, it is not until the reader is well into the story that it becomes clear that their lives do actually overlap.

It is difficult to believe that this is Sarah Butler's first novel as she has cleverly meshed the two stories together, and as we follow their thoughts and their actions, the character's similarities increase, despite the differences in their lives. Alice and Daniel see so much when they observe London and it's population. The small items discarded by a hurrying and busy public become treasures to Daniel, with meaning and significance. It is this detailed description of things that at first-glance could be mundane and everyday that make this novel even more beautiful.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Larry Hoffer on July 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Alice has always felt like the black sheep of her family. Her mother died when she was four years old, and she has always felt that her father and older sisters somehow blamed her for that. In fact, she has always felt as if everyone blamed her for being born in the first place, because apparently so much changed in their lives afterward. Maybe that's why she has always been on the move, running away from home when she was a child, and traveling the world as an adult, never really settling down in one place.

She is in Mongolia when she gets the call that her father is dying, and she is able to make it home in order to say goodbye. There is sadness, regret over the things she did or didn't say or do, and a desperate need to understand why her relationship with her father was the way it was. At the same time, she is struggling over the end of her relationship with Kal, a man she thought she might marry, but who was unable to give her what she wanted most.

Daniel is a homeless man, a tramp, who wanders throughout the city of London. While it isn't the life he would have chosen for himself, he's been able to find the beauty in simply standing still and observing his surroundings, the peace of being alone with nature. He collects things he finds on his walks--bits of paper, discarded or lost jewelry, pieces of metal--and can configure them into special treasures. Daniel has synesthesia, which causes him to see letters and words as colors--certain names are pale blue, warm red, or a bright white.

While Daniel hasn't had a job or a steady place to live for many years, he is buoyed by the memories of a woman he once loved more than anything, and his dreams of being a success.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By DeNisa Howe on July 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This was a brilliant poignant crossing with honest rich characters that allowed me into their hearts and minds. A daughter, sisters, father and another cross over into past memories, the now and the future trying to make sense and etch in each other's hearts forever. To lose one, you aren't sure you ever understood or that loved you and yet in the back of your mind you are aware the father did. Another one struggling to find a different daughter and to make sense of his own world and the meeting. A read I could not put down until it was done.. a story of two different people on their own journey and they meet while on their own but similar paths in life. Two stories yet one.
I adored the random list throughout the reading which told so much of the story and the characters, even those who had passed on long ago but affected them all. Example: 3) I wished you had talked about momma, I wished you had kept something of hers. 4) I still have the book you bought me for my tenth birthday, when I wanted to be an astronaut - A Tour Through the Solar System 7) It was me who stole the photograph from your study. From the list of things she wanted to say to her father. This book was about Love, family and strangers and the crossing to a different place in one's heart and mind.
I received this book via goodreads and simply adored it. I thank them for the copy and shall treasure it in my library where it can be shared with others. Waiting on another book from this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth F. Cork on October 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Don't let the title fool you. This is seriously about love, but not a boy meets girl love. It's more about finding yourself and how to live.
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