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Last Orders | [Graham Swift]

Last Orders

In a London Pub called The Coach and Horses, four men gather. Three of them have been friends for half a lifetime, having fought in the same war, drunk in the same pubs, and bet on the same horses. Now they have come together to deliver the ashes of a fifth man, Jack Dodds, to the sea. Their journey, which will take them deep into their collective and individual pasts, lies at the center of an astonishingly moving novel of friendship, memory, and fate.
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Publisher's Summary

Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 1996

When four men carry out another's final wishes, they are forced to take stock of who they are, who they were, and what lies in between.

"It ain't like your regular sort of day," Ray admits. The Coach and Horses pub in London's East End opened just five minutes ago, and Ray is already having a pint. He's soon joined by Lenny and Vic, who arrives carrying a box. Vic "twists the box round so we can see there's a white card taped to one side. There's a date and a number and name: Jack Arthur Dodds."

The three men, friends since World War II, have gathered to carry out Jack's last orders and deliver his ashes to the sea. A fourth comes, too, and serves as the driver: Jack's adopted son, Vince. As they move together toward the fulfillment of their mission, their errand becomes an extraordinary journey into their collective and individual pasts. Their voices - and Jack's, and that of Jack's widow Amy - combine in a choir of sorrow and resentment, passion and regret. An interwoven series of first-person narratives shifts between times and tenses, memories and revelations.

A testament to a changing England, a stark portrait of its working class, and a morality tale that hides its ambition and expertise under moving naturalism, Last Orders is a stunning achievement by one of England's greatest living writers.

© 1996 Grham Swift; (P)2003 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

"A profound, intricately stratified novel full of life, love lost, and love enduring." (The Globe and Mail)
"Written with impeccable honesty and paced with unflagging momentum, the novel ends with a scene of transcendent understanding." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (70 )
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  •  
    Robert West Hartford, CT, USA 03-23-06
    Robert West Hartford, CT, USA 03-23-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don't hesitate"

    I cannot recommend this selection highly enough. It is a beautifully written, and wonderfully read book. It took a short while to become accustomed to the accents, but what a treat it was coming to know them.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garry Cannington, Australia 12-05-12
    Garry Cannington, Australia 12-05-12 Member Since 2011

    I work in IT, I love reading, I love Writing and for those daily travels too and fro I love to listen to Audible books too

    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
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    68
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    Story
    "Friends forever care even in death."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I first saw this as a great movie with a great English cast and was eager to see how this audio would compare and it does. This is how London was when I was growing up, friends forever looking after the loved ones, caring for mates.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The care for the widow, the treatment of the ashes with reverence.


    Any additional comments?

    A true story of friendship in a time when friends really were friends for life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Washington, DC, United States 04-08-08
    Dennis Washington, DC, United States 04-08-08 Member Since 2002

    Tell us about yourself! I am a former high school history teacher and now, a semi-retired physician assistant.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hold the Last Orders"

    It is difficult to distinguish among the characters because it is not apparent who is speaking, and their accents require a better ear than mine. However, it makes little difference because their dialogue is trite and their characters stereotypical. I had little interest in finishing this one.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
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