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The Northern Clemencyby Philip Hensher
Synopses & Reviews
The Northern Clemency is a tremendous book . . . Philip Hensher has composed not so much a condition-of-England as a condition-of-humanity novel, which is gripping and surprising and shocking in all kinds of unpredictable ways, and enormously wide in psychological and moral scope. What a writer he is
Praise from the UK:
Brilliantly styled . . . Hensher is fascinatingly good on how social transformation manifests itself in the textures, colours and manners of a culture . . . The Northern Clemency is not only extremely funny, but also deeply humane. It] is a virtuoso display of sympathy: Hensher seems to dwell as easily and evocatively in the mind-world of a 10-year-old schoolboy as in that of a 59-year-old stroke victim or a middle-aged estate agent.
A remarkable novel . . . As emotionally engaged as political satire and as compulsively readable as a saga . . . But while Hensher's technical virtuosity is remarkable and his ability to conjure anything from a front room to an entire era equally striking, something more than brilliant cleverness makes this novel extraordinary . . . At the heart of the elegant narrative architecture, the fine comic timing and exuberant detail, there flickers a sense that generosity, a sense of others, is the best we can do. And at the last, in a twist as shocking as tragedy, that modest hope is beautifully fulfilled . . . Dazzling.
An engrossing and hugely impressive novel . . . Hensher is a brilliant anatomist of familial tension and marshals his large cast of characters deftly. He has an impeccable eye for nuances of character and setting, and the details of Seventies food and decor are lovingly done.
The Northern Clemency is a terrific novel-a truly fine achievement . . . It is a tribute to Hensher's powers of invention that this saga becomes so involving that no detail is too small. And Hensher is at his brilliant best in the details.
An early contender for novel of the year . . . Hensher presents the great drama and inexhaustible wonder of ordinary life . . . The novel is beautifully organised at three levels-close up, at the level of the sentence, further back, at the level of narrative progress, and then overall, as a fully realised whole-but its most impressive feature is that it manages to be a page-turner while eschewing the traditional devices we associate with such a book.
What is particularly enjoyable as the reader relaxes into this book is the portrayal of the complexity of family life: the layers, secrets and misunderstandings, the drama of different lives lived under the same roof, by people who are both strangers and kin . . . The novel provides an enjoyable nostalgia fest as well as an acute cultural history of provincial England . . . Engrossing, amusing and moving.
Beautifully written . . . as impressive in its scope as in the effortless artistry of the language. Its characters are well-defined and plausible, while the narrative is leavened with deftly observed humour that gently pokes its lower-middle-class protagonists in the ri
Reveals the decades-long connection between two families living in northern England, one native to the area, the other transplanted from London in 1974.
In 1974, the Sellers family is transplanted from London to Sheffield in northern England. On the day they move in, the Glover household across the street is in upheaval: convinced that his wife is having anaffair, Malcolm Glover has suddenly disappeared. The reverberations of this rupture will echo through the years to come as the connection between the families deepens. But it will be the particular crises of ten-year-oldTim Glover--set off by two seemingly inconsequential but ultimately indelible acts of cruelty--that will erupt, full-blown, two decades later in a shockingconclusion.
Expansive and deeply felt, The Northern Clemency shows Philip Hensher to be one of our most masterly chroniclers of modern life, and a storyteller of virtuosicgifts.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Philip Hensher’s novels include Kitchen Venom, which won the Somerset Maugham Award, and The Mulberry Empire, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Chosen by Granta as one of their best young British novelists, he is professor of creative writing at Exeter University and a columnist for The Independent. He lives in London.
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