Set in Sheffield, it charts the relationship between two families: Malcolm and Katherine Glover and their three children; and their neighbours the Sellers family, newly arrived from London so that Bernie can pursue his job with the Electricity Board. The day the Sellers move in there is a crisis across the road: Malcolm Glover has left home, convinced his wife is having an affair.
The consequences of this rupture will spread throughout the lives of both couples and their children, in particular 10-year-old Tim Glover, who never quite recovers from a moment of his mother's public cruelty and the amused taunting of 15-year-old Sandra Sellers, a childhood crises that will come to a head twenty years later.
In the background, England is changing: from a manufacturing and industrial based economy into a new world of shops, restaurants and service industries, a shift particularly marked in the north by the miners' strike of 1984, which has a dramatic impact on both families. Inspired by the expansive scale and webs of relationships of the great nineteenth-century Russian novels, 'The Northern Clemency' shows Philip Hensher to be one of our greatest chroniclers of English life.
©2008 Philip Hensher; (P)2008 WF Howes Ltd
I am an optimist by nature, so I stuck with this book to the end, always hoping it would get more interesting. It never did. The saga eventually petered to an unsatisfying conclusion, and I felt I had wasted 25 hours of my time listening to it. The narrator does a nice job of differentiating the different characters and accents, but her talents are wasted here.
The sound in this audio book is variable in volume, but that would be tolerable. What makes listening difficult is that for chunks of the book the last word of sentences appears to be chopped off. It's frustrating & alone is enough pass this book over.
I enjoyed the novel. But the production was annoying. The volume would shoot up too high for my speakers, then drop too low to understand. I guess I'll have to watch out for Whole Story audiobooks here.
"really good yarn"
really enjoyed this book. very well read. liked the narrators voice. a long novel but easy to listen to. well worth a listen.
It was a pure chance that I found this book and I was delighted. I liked the characters, the set up of Sheffield, mindsets of people away from trendiness of London, descriptions of attitudes in times of miners' strike, the reality of Thatcher's era in the North and falling and rising of characters who either found their way to prosper or failed. I am aware that my enjoyment was imensly enhanced by fantastic reading and lovely accent of Carol Boyd. While listening to this book I was all the time asking myself how is it possible that I heard so much about fantastic Franzen's Corrections and Freedom and missed on this book in reviews, when both authors skillfully paint vivid pictures of people's lives one in USA the other in Northern Englamd. If Franzen's Freedom can be called a masterpiece, co can Hensher's The Northern Clemency.
"Undiscovered, unassuming gem of a novel"
I'm surprised that there has been so little buzz about this novel. Only 20 reviews on Amazon, and those very mixed. I found it intelligent, interesting and quietly accomplished, with well-defined and totally believable characters. I found myself reflecting on it whenever I was away from it and torn between wanting to get back to it and not wanting it to end. Wonderfully read by Carole Boyd. You feel like you've settled into a quiet comfy corner with an old friend who is recounting a story and by the end you feel like these are people you actually know.
I selected this book as it was based in Sheffield, my nearest City. Descriptions took me on a journey around areas I know quite well, and most characters had substance. What spoiled it for me was the time lapses - I had to re-listened to some parts several times as they seemed a little un-connected. I felt the conclusion was a little rushed. Worth a listen to draw your own conclusions however.
"An intricate tapestry of ordinary life"
This is very much a book of layers. The lives of the families in the North (mainly) during that period of time are beautifully told. One of the things that stands out for me in Hensher's writing is the attention to detail, and by this I don't mean lots of description but very good, simple observation of every day things, some of which we grew up with, some of which are just part of life. Another thing is the different characters portrayed and their thoughts, all very believable, even though they range from teenage girls to middle aged men. As I tend to read a lot of fast paced detective/crime books, I did, at first, wonder a bit where the book was going and what was going to happen but then I just sat back and enjoyed the "telling" of the story. The narration was very good, not at all rushed and totally suited to the writing. I will definitely be reading more from this author.
Took a while to get into but once I did I really enjoyed this. Not much really happened and there were a few loose ends but this was intentional.
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