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Damage Paperback – September 29, 1996

4.1 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hart's tragic and emotional tour de force, which spent 16 weeks on PW 's hardcover bestseller list, is narrated by a man obsessed with his son's fiancee. This Literary Guild selection has 90,000 hardcover copies in print.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The unnamed narrator of this chilling, uncomfortable first novel lives a life many men work vainly all their lives to attain: wealth, successful political career, beautiful wife, two attractive children. At the age of 50, however, the narrator has yet to feel passionately about anything--or anyone--in his life. Then his son brings home the woman he plans to marry, the enigmatic Anna Barton, and he recognizes in Anna the passion for which he will eagerly lay to waste everything and everyone in his life. Anna, tragedy ever-present in her life, warns, "Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive." Unheeding, he does not veer from a path which can lead only to damage for everyone except, ultimately, perhaps Anna herself. Compulsively readable enough to be devoured in a single sitting, this novel is brilliant, but unsettling. Obsession and its aftermath can be fascinating, but never comfortable, reading. For large fiction collections. Literary Guild alternate; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/90.
-Dean James, Houston Acad. of Medicine/Texas Medical Ctr. Lib.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 29, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449911888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449911884
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,366,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Very disturbing novel that suggests that deep, passionate love requires or demands self destruction. There is nothing uplifting or particularly enlightening about the novel. Boy (man) meets girl (woman) and falls passionately, erotically in love only the girl is his son's fiance and has no intention of breaking the engagement and neither does the boy. So, they continue their affair until it explodes in everyone's face.

The thing is, there is nothing compelling about their affair, nothing warm or loving as most would see it. It's cold and passionate, if that's possible. And Hart suggest, absolutely necessary. For the man, Stephen, the affair is everything; it's the first time in his life that he is truly living (despite being fifty years old, a respected member of parliament, married with two children and a physician). Hart does an excellent job of capturing his emptiness but the emptiness doesn't go away when he meets Anna. Instead the passion creates fire but not fullness.

Neither Anna or Stephen is appealing. They seem made for each other. They are like paper dolls going through life, feeling little and so excited when they do feel something that the feeling overpowers everything. This would be less shocking if they didn't suck everyone else into their desperation. The bad part is that Stephen ended up with Ingrid, his wife, and Martyn and Sally, his children. The family is the real victim, and I finished the novel thinking for what? What is it in Anna that made Stephen destroy everything? I didn't feel like I ever got an answer.

Technically, the novel works. It is told from Stephen's perspective and stays basically true to his rather cold, distant and aloof personality. The ending to me is just odd.
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Format: Paperback
Damage is a stunning work of fiction which captures the transformative, compelling power of passionate love. Few authors can portray that ellusive state of suspended animation which anticipates catastropic change. Stephen is completely unaware of the banality of existence that he finds himself in; a state neither alive nor dead. When he meets Anna, his perception undergoes a gestalt-type shift and he at once realizes that things can no longer be as they were. Anna's own warning to Stephen - beware damaged people, for they are the ones who survive - sums up the theme of this novel, in which passion is cast in terms of power and actions inevitablely lead to irreversible and tragic consequences. Reading this novel is analogous to watching a car accident: morbid facination prevents you from looking away, ever aware of the compulsion that it could be you at the wheel at that pivitol moment when the illusion of control is shattered.
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By A Customer on September 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Damage" was another book I bought on a whim because it was on sale. I didn't have a clue about the plot since there wasn't a synopsis on the back and most of the reviews inside were pretty vague.
To begin with, "Damage" is a pretty small book (218 pages) with short chapters and spare writing. Most people will be able to read it in one day if you have nothing else to do.
The book is told in the first person by Stephen Fleming who is a middle-aged politician in British parliament. He leads a very safe, boring life with his beautiful wife Ingrid and two adult children, Martyn and Sally. Everything changes though when he meets his son's new girlfriend, Anna Barton, at a party. His attraction to her is immediate and overpowering. Their affair begins after a few family get-togethers when Anna calls out of the blue and they make arrangements to meet at her place.
From the beginning, you know the relationship won't go any further than the bedroom (if they make it that far), but you get swept away anyways in Stephen's loss of control and growing obsession. Anna seems to remain a mystery, however, even after she confesses the strange death of her brother, who had killed himself years ago because he couldn't have her.
The ending, of course, is tragic and depressing when Stephen and Anna's affair is discovered. The darkness of the book might be a little too much for some, but if you like gloomy, erotic novels, I highly recommend you read "Damage".
Obviously, there are some sex scenes in the book, but they're not raunchy or overly descriptive. The movie scenes, however, are much more graphic than the book's, especially if you see the unrated version of "Damage".
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Format: Paperback
Hart manages to do what few authors can-- make a central character capable of drawing disgust and sympathy from the audience at the same time. _Damage_ is reminiscent to me of _Lolita_ and the middle-aged MP is quite similar to Nabokov's Humbert Humbert (small wonder that Jeremy Irons was selected to play both men on film).
The plot is something like this: Stephen Fleming is a bored, stuffed-shirt politician. He is smart and successful with a loving family but he is slowly smothering from his life of routine. When Anna Barton comes along, he is drawn in by how different she is. Anna and Stephen begin a passionate affair quickly and it escalates with even more rapidity. They take more and more risks until finally, Martyn, Anna's fiance and Stephen's son, catches them. Obviously, the game is over and the characters disperse. Anna returns to the only person who can truly comfort her in times of crisis and Stephen loses the outwardly perfect life he once had.
For the most part, this novel kept my undivided attention. I was able to finish it quickly and have read it several times since. Though other novels that deal with forbidden love have been recommended to me, I have not found any that I enjoy quite as much as _Damage_. True, the prose is sparse though not "joined-up" as one reviewer quipped. I am not put off by minimalism in literature or art so I found the unencumbered text to be refreshing. Others will disagree and wish Hart had provided more, but I think all of the necessary details are included with style.
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