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Tomorrow (Vintage International) Paperback – September 9, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This splendid novel by Booker Prize–winner Smith (for Last Orders) has its roots in the 1960s sexual awakening and takes place over the course of a sleepless night in June 1995. Paula Campbell Hook lies awake beside her sleeping husband, Mike, and worries about the shocking revelation that she and Mike will make to their 16-year-old twins tomorrow. Paula recalls her meeting with Mike at university in 1966, when sex was free and easy (a glut of it), the immediate consummation of their sexual passion, their marriage and successful careers, and the birth of the twins after almost a decade together. Mainly, Swift explores the ways in which secrets are created to ensure happiness, and the potential for emotional damage when the truth is revealed. Swift has channeled the tenderness in Paula's voice with uncanny exactitude, granting her a mother's sentimental observations about pregnancy and raising children. He drops a few clever red herrings, so the narrative retains the vibrato of suspense until the secret is revealed. But the novel's remaining pages, which convey the exaggerated doomsday fears of middle-of-the night wakefulness, seem padded. In essence, this moving exploration of marriage and parenthood is a ringing affirmation of modern life. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

Throughout his career, Swift has made good use of stories that unfold backward, working toward revelations about the past. But the strategy misfires badly in this novel, narrated by a woman lying awake next to her sleeping husband and mentally talking to her sixteen-year-old twins about a secret whose revelation, the next day, will change their lives. The problem is partly that the secret turns out to be unmomentous, but also that it is used as a device to lead us through the history of a marriage—student love in the sixties, career choices, deaths of a cat and a parent—that has little narrative impetus of its own. Presumably, Swift is trying to celebrate ordinariness, but he seems to have been unsure how to do it.
Copyright © 2007 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage International
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307386430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307386434
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,691,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Eric Margelefsky on July 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
First let me say that I only finished this book because I was listening to it on CD and was on a long car ride with nothing else to listen to. Otherwise I would have abandoned it after chapter 2.

The first half of this book contains two things: first, hype about some secret announcement that will be made "tomorrow" and that will change everyone's lives and that nothing will be the same again and just you wait until tomorrow, oh boy! Second, is a very long and very detailed memoir-style retelling of the narrator's meeting and falling in love with her husband; her father's falling in love with her mother; her husband's father falling in love with her father's mother; there is even an entire chapter about her husband's father's brother. It goes on and on, all interspersed with the narrator's mawkish fawning over her two children, which gets so repetitive and syrupy that you just know the kids would have walked away before the end of the story.

Oh, and there are funerals. If you like descriptions of funerals, you're in for a treat.

The second half of this book is just one big huge let-down after the hype built up in the first. The actual announcement left me wondering what the big deal was. And there are still many anticlimactic pages left after it is made.

This book is cringeworthy not only for its dripping sentimentality, but also for the detailed description of the narrator's sex life as she drones to her two 16-year-old children. No child wants to know how skilled his father is in bed, or what position her parents were in during some particularly passionate session of lovemaking. At times the author seems to recognize this and has the narrator say things like, "I know you don't want to know this about your mother, but...
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Format: Hardcover
(3.5 stars) It is 1995, and Paula Campbell Hook is lying awake in bed on the eve of a dramatic announcement which she and her husband Mike will make to their sixteen-year-old twins. They have delayed this life-changing occasion for several years, having decided to wait until after the twins, Nick and Kate, have celebrated their sixteenth birthday, fearful that they might be "wrenching [them] forever from [their] childhood." In the course of the night, Paula reminisces about her past, her thirty-year relationship with Mike, her wedding, the marriages of their parents and their parents' histories, the deaths of family members, the childhoods of the twins, and the concept of love across three generations.

Throughout the novel, Paula contrasts her present life and that of the twins with the lives of her parents and Mike's parents, showing how each person's expectations for the future grow out of his/her upbringing, relationships with those who love them, and the historical period in which s/he happens to live. Paula's meditations are conversational and very intimate, sometimes revolving around the sexual freedom she and Mike experienced, separately and together, in the sixties. While her personal confessions may be more than she ever actually plans to discuss with the twins (and it is certainly more than the twins need to know), they do add to the developing themes for the reader, preparing him/her for the announcement which is the crux of the novel.

Swift deliberately ignores two of the canons of fiction writing in order to relate Paula's story. First of all, he writes (surprisingly effectively) as a woman--sharing all a woman's intimacies, points of view, and attitudes.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A reader on May 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was very relieved when I looked up this book on Amazon and saw the lukewarm reviews -- I thought, "So I wasn't wrong! This IS pretty pathetic." I've read other works by Graham Swift that I enjoyed, but this was a big dud. It is grotesquely overwritten, and the storyline feels completely flat, despite all the dramatic proclamations of the narrator (at least two or three per chapter) that tomorrow will change their lives. I actually disliked the narrator a lot despite -- or rather because of -- her gushing love for her children and husband. She comes across as having almost no nuances, no depth, nothing to complicate the fact that in all ways she acted in the best interest of her family. Swift seems to want us to forgive her completely for what she did (perhaps to allow the reader to imagine that her children will too), and that strikes me as a pointless thing to do in a novel. If these people have no real problems, why should I read about them? They have nothing in common with anyone I know.

[Spoiler alert] One example of what I mean about the narrator: she tells us about the affair she had with the vet in such a way as to leave no doubt that it meant nothing to her and she really, really, really still loves her husband and children and never meant them any harm. That seems absurd. Sorry, but I'd be much more interested to discover a little trace of selfishness in her, because as is she barely seems human. Moreover, weirdly enough, her endless sense of self-sacrifice actually ends up making her seem shallow, as though she's incapable of any other emotions.

Also, while Swift seems to be trying to say "Look at me, I can write convincingly from a female perspective!" I don't think he does.
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