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The Vinegar Jar Hardcover – November 14, 1994

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Berlie Doherty is best known as a children's author, and her first novel for adults has the otherworldly air of a creepy bedtime story. Unhappy and lonely, Rose Doran makes the mistake of falling in love with William, a glamorous young tap dancer whose hair is "as shiny as his shoes." Rose moves in with William, his mother and a baby that may or may not be his. But before long, the feckless hoofer dances off into the arms of a red-haired cinema usherette. Rose grabs the baby, Edmund, and soon settles into a sexless marriage with a man twice her age, the dull and steady Gordon. Isolated and craving affection, Rose turns to her next-door neighbor, Paedric, an eccentric "gnome-like, bright-eyed man." The plot becomes progressively darker and weirder as the two trade stories and Rose is pulled deeper and deeper into Paedric's parallel universe, gradually losing her grip on reality. Doherty's drama of codependent fantasy life perfectly replicates the foreboding quality of so many classic fairy tales, but it contains little of the beauty. She works traditional folk tales into her narrative at every turn, blurring the line between her story and all the stories that have come before. Frustrated by bleak reality, Rose submerges herself in make-believe, but Doherty's grim tale is a haunting reminder that the imagination isn't always the sanctuary it appears to be. Some dreams end badly.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Fairy tales and myth weave through this story and serve to establish it. The "Vinegar Jar" is a traditional tale of the fisherman and his wife who blow their chance to escape their vinegar jar-shaped hovel because of the wife's insatiable greed. It is also the symbol of the sad and sour life led by the novel's heroine, Rose Doran. Rose suffers psychic damage from love withheld, first by the parents who lose interest in her after her brother is killed in war. An unhappy affair with a tap-dancing scoundrel prompts her to leave with his baby son, whom she believes will be better off in her care. Finally, she marries Gordon, a railway man, who worships her but is afraid to touch her. The only friend Rose finds is her strange, gnome-like neighbor, Paedric, whose eccentricity is likely rooted in schizophrenia. Rose's many disappointments drive her deeper into Paedric's bizarre world. This is a well-written but unsympathetic novel and needs not be considered essential.?Barbara Love, Kingston P.L., Ontario
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Ltd (November 14, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241002583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241002582
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,233,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on August 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book sat alone on the library shelf, amidst books of thrillers and mysteries. I rescued it, entranced by the title.
From page one, Berlie Doherty takes the reader through the mind of a woman, alone and abandoned by the world.
Here is a story of Rose, seeking something her parents failed to give her. Instead, she finds two loves gone wrong and a child that is not hers. Caring for the child begins to invade on Rose, who in turn begins a word affair with her eccentric neighbor.
Doherty leaves the reader turning page after page to discover the secrets of Rose and Paedric, Gordon and Edmund.
The longings of Rose combined with faerie tales and make-believe, 'The Vinegar Jar' is a soothing ride through the madness of being alone.
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Format: Hardcover
In her novel "The Vinegar Jar" Berlie Doherty has captured the loneliness of solitude. Rose is alone and does not want to be alone. Like the old woman who lived in the vinegar jar and was never happy, Rose is unsure of what she is missing but knows there is more to life. She looks for happiness first with William, then with Gordon but neither can give her the commitment and fulfillment she is yearning for. She turns to mad Paedric and for a time is happy, but her insane ecstasy is shattered when she is made to realise that her world is built of cobwebs and delusions. Berlie Doherty has written a brilliant and insightful novel that questions the meaning of life and reality. A sensitive and thought-provoking book.
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