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The Miracle Inspector Paperback – September 4, 2012
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The Miracle Inspector is one of the few novels that everyone should read, it's a powerful novel that's masterfully written and subtly complex. SciFi and Fantasy Books
In its feminist angle, The Miracle Inspector is reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Smith has an extraordinarily rich imagination that never fails to surprise and delight. Huffpost Books
Helen Smith crafts a story like she's the British lovechild of Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick, only with a feminist slant. Journal of Always Reviews
One of the finest novels of its genre. For Books' Sake
The Miracle Inspector is a dark dystopian novel, full of twists and turns that has the reader guessing and waiting in anticipation to see what happens next. Bella Online
Chosen as a "best book of the year" by For Books' Sake and The Cult Den
From the Author
The Miracle Inspector is a blackly comic dystopian novel inspired by my time spent volunteering as a mentor for exiled writers in London through British charity Freedom from Torture.
Rather than try to tell the stories of the people I met, I wondered what it would be like if I had to flee from London without money or possessions. How would I escape? What kind of reception would I get if I arrived somewhere without money or possessions, with little understanding of the culture? How would I know who to trust? That was my starting point. I hope people will finish the book asking some of the questions I started with.
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Top customer reviews
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People seem to disappear if they complain about their lives or the government. Lucas is a government worker tasked with investigating claims of a miracle. He has started worrying about his life & whether his wife Angela really loves him. He seems to be waiting for something to happen but is afraid.
This book reminded me of George Orwell's novel 1984. "Big brother is watching." I had to keep reading to find out how Lucas and Angela's lives changed for better or worse. I was still scratching my head at the end. It really made me think.
There is a debt to the Taliban in this novel, with the description of how women are relegated to the home, and can go outside of those boundaries only with their husband's permission, and draped in abaya type cloaks. Also, banned is any form of art, any education beyond what is needed for the men to perform their jobs, and, of course, none at all for women. This society has also eliminated anyone older than the age of 40 or so (although it isn't clear how this was accomplished, since the reins of power were obviously held by older folks, in the beginning of this "utopia").
To be fair, the author's goal in this book isn't to describe how this state of affairs came about, (that would have been a much larger novel), but the effects of those events. Having wisdom and experience eliminated right off the bat serves the purpose of creating a populace of the very young, who have no interest in or hope of changing things. There is a small, amorphous group of "resistance" which has no power, and no motivation to carry their opposition further. Their main goal seems to be to simply gather and read poetry to each other.
The two main characters, Lucas and Angela, find themselves drifting through their lives, wanting to believe that they actually care for each other, and trying to establish this bond continuously, mostly verbally and through sex. They have been numbed to the point, though, where they don't even understand what is wrong with their relationship. They speak of vague desires, like going to "Cornwall", which, in this novel, is the definition of a place where life will be safe, free and beautiful. You know . . . Paradise. At some point, Lucas begins to break the rules, and he attempts to provide more meaning in life for his wife, who he truly wants to love.
The result of these actions brings about the destruction of everything either of them ever had, either with or without each other. What it doesn't bring is any kind of redemption or enlightenment. They die as they've lived . . . still wanting more, and believing it is somewhere out there, but unable to understand anything that has ever happened to them ever, in their lives.
To say it is a sad novel would be to demean it. It's much more than that. It's more than a cautionary tale. It's a statement about the human spirit, and the limits to what it can accomplish on its own, without input from others, and without the ability to freely express its longings and inspirations. I was sad at the way it ended, but not surprised, and not because I felt anything in particular for Lucas and Angela. I recognized the huge theme of how human beings could lose their essential humanity so easily and how difficult it would be to ever reclaim it.
A very, very good book.
Well, I've gotten into the habit of downloading a sample of a book before accepting a review copy. To my surprise, after reading the sample copy, I loved it so much that I refused the author's offer and simply bought my own copy to read immediately. I was that drawn in.
Helen Smith offers us a bleak glimpse into a near-future London, where women have become virtual - and sometimes literal - prisoners of men. They are subject to the iron fist of their husbands and can fall prey to any man. No longer allowed to work, drive, or even make any of their own decisions, some of these women rebel. Most simply accept their fate with a sense of utter hopelessness.
Rather than dumping a huge amount of back story on the reader, Smith teases with the information. You start with what seems like a very ordinary, though slightly unhappy couple. However, as you read, teasing bits of information come out until you finally have a complete vision of the horrors of future London.
Reminiscent of both Atwood and Orwell, near-future London is a time of danger to both women and men, a place where you spend your time looking over your shoulder to see who is watching.
As for the characters, they were incredibly complex - especially Lucas. I loved him and hated him as he struggled with his own demons. It was fascinating how he saw himself as an enlightened man who loved his wife, yet still used his power as a man against her and against other women. He was a product of his time, showing his contempt for women even as he loved them.
Far from predictable, the story surprised me at every turn and I am very glad I was given an opportunity to read this. I'll be re-reading this one in the near future!
Most recent customer reviews
The story is set in the near future.Read more
It plays on fears of the unknown. It very thought provoking and as many questions that are answered you are left with more to...Read more