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Transit Of Venus Paperback – Oct 5 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (Oct. 5 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860491812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860491818
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 240 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #732,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By nightfall the headlines would be reporting devastation. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
Based on these recommendations, I selected "Transit of Venus" for my book club. Result: Everyone hated it. The writing style is affected to the point of being unintelligable. All readers agreed that the story was borderline absurd and the plot scattered and poorly constructed. At best, I consider this book a case study of highly stylized writing and poor editing. I learned my lesson to never subject my fellow book clubbers to a book based solely on recommendations!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Jan. 26 2001
Format: Paperback
How lucky, there are books for every taste. But some books are so overdone and pretentious, one must assume some of the more glowing reviews are sponsored by the friends of the writer or the publisher. Surely, without the motivation of a book club, most of us would put down this pinkie-in-the-air soap opera after the first chapter. It is not time well spent unless you are in jail and have read everything else six times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Dec 25 2000
Format: Paperback
At first, your club's poor opinion of TRANSIT shocked me. Then I recalled that I'd recommended it to a friend who also ran a book club in NYC; her friends were not quite as dismissive as yours about the book, but they too found it difficult to understand. Without meaning in any way to deride your taste or that of your circle, I can only speculate that TRANSIT disappoints because modern eyes are less than eager to embrace its very different style. You call it 'affected'; yet I assure you that I can usually spot affectation before the cover opens, and Hazzard is in no way guilty of such. There is to me a beautiful and rare RHYTHM in her writing. It is musical and poetic in the best senses of those words, and readers largely accustomed to the fourth-grade syntax and tone of most modern popular novels will, I suppose, feel lost. As for its being 'unintelligible': my turn to be lost. The lives of two sisters are followed, and that's all. They're followed with exquisite attention and fatalistic power, but followed plainly.
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Format: Paperback
So why on earth would anyone want to read The Transit of Venus? Some say the writing is pretentious: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. That word came to mind last year while I was reading Shirley Hazzard's 2003 National Book Award winner, The Great Fire. Yet I couldn't stop reading. Since I wound up loving that book, I decided to try this one, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award more than two decades ago (1980). Midway through my reading transit, on June 8, 2004, a Transit of Venus occurred, the tiny planet moving like a dot across our gigantic sun. (In 1769, James Cook set sail in the H.M.S. Endeavor to study a Transit of Venus and found Australia, hence the tie-in with this novel, which is primarily an Australian woman's transit through love and life.)
Reading Shirley Hazzard is like climbing a mountain, agonizing over the rocks and rarified air during the long, arduous uphill climb. Struggle is not the same as suffer. Most modern books are downhill sloped, where the reader floats or speeds effortlessly toward a simplistic conclusion. A Hazzard novel is more vertically inclined, where one needs to stop on occasion to catch a breath, and then, when the climax comes, you are on a mountaintop, not the valley floor. It is not a transit intended for aliterates, much less illiterates. Hazzard might not be the author for you if you don't know, and don't care about, the meaning of words like "impercipience" and "abnegation." Also, if you're less than thrilled with such lines as "Magnanimity shaped a sad and vast perspective," and "My task, as I see it, is to adumbrate the sources of his entelechy," then you might want to move along to another bookshelf.
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Format: Paperback
The reasons Shirley Hazzard's best-known novel doesn't succeed are not the same as readers fear when they start it. Her burnished lapidary prose and her characters' extremely aphoristic way of speaking can seem initially offpyutting, but once you realize she knows what she's doing exactly on the level of the sentence you trust her and let her run with it. But Hazzard's sense of control at the larger level of plot is less steady. The novel, which describes a huge span of time (25 years) in the lives of two sisters and the people with whom they gather in an academic's house in England in the 1950s, is an admirable attempt to cover the arc of many lives over a period of years as they occasionally cross paths in ways as transcendantly as the astonromical event mentioned in the title; the big narrative surprises at the end seem to undo much of what you thought about the characters before, but since there are so many characters to keep track of you end up feeling more confused and cheated than entranced. You wind up admiring what Hazzard is trying to do but left feeling she couldn't quite pull it off. Some of the ancillary narratives embedded within the larger narrative are first rate, however, and I have to say I am going to read her other novels regardless of my dissatisfactions with this work.
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By "mcwelen" on May 12 2004
Format: Paperback
Jane Austin without character. First the characters are very shallow and uninspired. Second the characters have no character. They are not torn between right and wronge, well at least not in the first 147 pages, I would have stopped long before this were it not for my book club meeting. The most entertaining part of the work so far is I find myself casting the movie. Hmm, I think Jude Law as Paul, Catherine Zeta Jones perhaps for Caro, obviously Nicole Kidman or her pal what's her name for Grace. Perhaps Henry Thomas for Ted, and throw in Anthony Hopkings and Emma ? that should be enough star power. Anyway I'm back to work on this, must finnish by the 13th
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