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The Whole Wide Beauty: A Novel Hardcover – May 17, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (May 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039307658X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393076585
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,854,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this stirring debut, the indefatigable David Freeman struggles to maintain his faltering poetry foundation while his daughter, Katherine, adrift after giving up life as a dancer to become a wife, mother, and part-time music teacher, strives to regain a sense of herself. David is a charismatic dynamo when it comes to his work, but he is far removed from his family, in part because of a long-held secret. When Katherine begins a wild affair with married-with-children poet Stephen Jericho, the couple's passion for each other reawakens them both: Stephen progresses with his epic poem and Katherine breaks through her numbing inertia. Meanwhile, David is diagnosed with cancer, which spurs him even more to find a deep-pocketed philanthropist for the foundation, while drawing him farther away from his family. Katherine's sudden admission of her affair to her parents becomes an unlikely bridge to reconnection, but she still must choose between Stephen and her husband. Though Woof's English characters outwardly maintain the stiffest of upper lips, their tumultuous inner worlds make for a sensuous, moving drama of love and family. (May)
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“Woof elegantly dissects the transactions of desire, individual and familial, in this disquieting novel.” (Nikita Lalwani, author of Gifted)

“In The Whole Wide Beauty, Emily Woof untangles the threads of passion and loyalty, love and art that tie us together. What she gives us is a powerful novel that leaves us hopeful and inspired about our own lives.” (Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle)

“I loved Emily Woof’s novel. It stayed with me like a jewel while I was reading it, in the way the best books do. It's such a passionate and devastating look at love and loneliness.” (Esther Freud, author of Love Falls and Hideous Kinky)

“[A] stirring debut….Though Woof's English characters outwardly maintain the stiffest of upper lips, their tumultuous inner worlds make for a sensuous, moving drama of love and family.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This is an admirable, intense first novel, serious and insightful ... I am excited to see what Woof will go on to write next.” (Adam Foulds - The Guardian)

“Demonstrates a well-tuned sensitivity to the complications of human existence.” (Mary Fitzgerald - The Observer)

“An immensely readable novel ... marks her as a debut novelist of the first order.” (Adam O'Riordan - Financial Times)

More About the Author

Originally from Newcastle, Emily Woof is a well-known British actress. Her many film credits include the The Full Monty and the cult classic Velvet Goldmine. She has appeared in a variety of television dramas, including Miss Marple, and on stage in Neil Bartlett's production of Romeo And Juliet. She is also a prolific writer of drama for stage, screen, BBC Radio 4 and Film Four; in addition to writing she has also directed and starred in a number of these productions. "The Whole Wide Beauty" is her debut novel.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By D. Quinn on January 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
David is struggling to maintain his faltering poetry foundation, while his daughter is adrift after giving up her life as a dancer to become a wife and mother. The two have a distant and tense relationship, made worse by David's long-held secret and Katherine's new affair with David's favorite young poet, married-with-children Stephen Jericho.

The affair awakens a new passion in them both, leading Stephen to creative productivity and Katherine to a new sense of self. Meanwhile, David is diagnosed with cancer and must devote himself even more whole-heartedly to finding a wealthy benefactor for the Foundation, which pulls him even farther from his family.

Woof's writing is sparse, her emotions buried deep under the surface of her characters' stiff outer personalities. The story here was not wildly compelling, but the characters' rich inner worlds and tumultuous ups and downs did make for a moving drama of love and family. I guess the plot doesn't matter so much, if the characters can carry the tale.
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