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The Woman In the Fifth Paperback – International Edition, July 2, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Nail-bitingly compulsive. . . . A thumping good read. Kennedy has done it again.” —The Times

“Kennedy is a fantastic, feisty writer.” —Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Douglas Kennedy’s novels have all been highly praised bestsellers. His work has been translated into sixteen languages.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (July 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099469251
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099469254
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,101,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
One of the essential aspects that distinguish a great novel from a mediocre one is the `engine' that drives the reader to continue turning the pages till the last one is turned. The story begins as an interesting scenario, and from there builds momentum to the point that closing the book's covers and putting it aside till the "next time" is all but impossible. This `engine' is not only the content of the story but the author's style, his/her technical expertise to ensure the reader remains with, and is compelled to, read every word. To be certain, most if not all of Douglas Kennedy's novel's have this `engine', driving the reader forward, however, The Woman in the Fifth takes this notion further, the author using all his skill to intrigue us and entertain us but also somehow making the impossible appear absolutely probable.

Harry Ricks has hit rock bottom...or so we're led to believe until he tumbles further into the abyss. The man has fled the U.S. because of a failed marriage and a scandal at the college where he taught film studies. Harry's life is in ruins and now he is down and out living in Paris; little money, has now contracted a serious flu and doesn't know a soul. One event leads to another, and he ends up living in a very low income sector of Paris, a `chambre de bonne', later is offered a "job" as a nightwatchman, where he sits in a little second story office watching a video screen. He is instructed only to let those individuals through the door that offer a particular phrase. It is obvious that illegal activities are going on below on the first floor, but he is purposefully kept in the dark, it is said, for his own protection.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a real page-turner. At least parts of it are. It's well written. I liked the feel of Paris that Kennedy brings out with his writing. I liked the protagonist and identified with him and his problems. So far, so good.

But... the decisions he makes towards the beginning of the book -- which set the plot in motion -- are all unbelievably stupid. To the Kennedy's credit, he realizes this and tries to build justifications for them (the character has no choice, feels nihilistic, is naive, etc.), but they don't really convince. No real person would do the ridiculous things this guy does.

The revelation about the woman took me by surprise. I really didn't know what type of book this was going to be. That was sort-of fun, but also a let-down, because it meant that anything could now happen, there are no rules.

Finally, the last part of the book is a mess. The woman seems to have a personality change. I won't give anything away, but it basically took a cool, smart, interesting character and turned her into a stereotype, and no reason is given for her to act this way.

But as I said, the writing was good. If his other books are better, I'd be happy to give them a try.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed several of the author's previous works. In both THE BIG PICTURE and TEMPTATION, the author manages to create page-turners using escapist, middle-aged male fantasy themes: what would it be like to leave the life you know and start all over again or what would it be like to have everything you know taken from you and to enact revenge. Similarly, this novel successfully explores these ideas again only to collapse under the weight of a supernatural element introduced later on in the book. Quite simply it did not work and I felt disappointed by it. But until that point the writing is, as usual, excellent. The author does know how to hook the reader....
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Format: Paperback
This book is riveting for most of the narration. Harry Ricks decamps from the U.S. in the wake of a scandal. With not much to his name, he dumps himself into Paris. To Paris, where he hadn't been for 20 years. The scandal is expertly revealed to the reader in bits and pieces. I'm not sure I actually like Harry Ricks, but what happens in Paris, almost all of it bad, does show he has resilience.

And there's good writing, that really takes you on Harry's ride. In a dive he's rented for 3 months, after which he'll be out of money, he disciplines himself to finally write the novel he's always said he would: " 'I'll show the bastards' is a statement uttered by someone who has suffered a setback ... or, more typically, has hit bottom. But as a resident of the latter category, I also knew that, rather than being some EST-style rallying cry, it was a howl from the last-chance saloon."

By happenchance, Harry meets Margit, a woman of beauty, class, and lust. The last buoys Harry immensely. For he's living in the slums, while Margit lives in the Paris Fifth Arrondissement, wealthy middle class, where he used to be. She is the Woman in the Fifth, and there's something really really odd about her. A true mystery woman.

Near the end of the book, we find out what is odd about her and it completely threw me off. I thought this book was a great read until then, and then all I could say was, "Oh for pete's sake." I cannot explain more without giving away too much.

So, in short, the first two-thirds of the book are riveting. The ending was not.

Happy Reader
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