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Waterland [Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Graham Swift , Christian Rodska
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Hardcover --  
Paperback CDN $14.40  
MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged CDN $12.88  
Audio, Cassette, Audiobook, March 1998 --  
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Book Description

March 1998
'Perfectly controlled, superbly written. Waterland is original, compelling and narration of the highest order' Guardian In the years since its first publication, in 1983, Waterland has established itself as one of the classics of twentieth-century British literature: a visionary tale of England's Fen country; a sinuous meditation on the workings of history; and a family story startling in its detail and universal in its reach. This edition includes an introduction, by the author, written to celebrate the book's 25th anniversary. 'Graham Swift has mapped his Waterland like a new Wessex. He appropriates the Fens as Moby Dick did whaling or Wuthering Heights the moors. This is a beautiful, serious and intelligent novel, admirably ambitious and original' Observer 'A 300-page tour de force ...A burst of exuberant fictive energy' Evening Standard 'Waterland is a formidably intelligent book, animated by an impressive, angry pity at what human creatures are capable of doing to one another in the name of love and need. The most powerful novel I have read for some time' New York Review of Books
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Review

Waterland appropriates the Fens as Moby-Dick did whaling or Wuthering Heights the moors—a beautiful, serious, and intelligent novel, admirably ambitious and original.” —The Observer

“A formidably intelligent book—animated by an impressive, angry pity at what human creatures are capable of doing to one another in the name of love and need.” —The New York Review of Books

“Swift spins a tale of empire-building, land reclamation, brewers and sluice-minders, bewhiskered Victorian patriarchs, insane and visionary relicts . . . A book of strange, insidious, unsettling power.” —Books and Bookmen

“Teems with energy, fertility, violence, madness . . . Demonstrates the irrepressible, wide-ranging talent of this young British writer.” —The Washington Post Book World

“Extraordinary . . . A personal book, a book that speaks to the innermost core of the reader . . . Waterland is history, it is exploration. Waterland is geography, lineage. It is commerce, decline and fall, the industrial revolution (the French one, too, with heads lopped off) and, like everything around us, it bears the scars of the two great wars of the twentieth century. It is family saga, family secrets, love, licit and otherwise; it is, above all, an exploration into what it is, this history thing, that affects us all, your history, mine, ours.”
—from the Introduction by Tim Binding
  --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

"Perfectly controlled, superbly written -- Waterland is original, compelling and narration of the highest order." -- The Guardian (U.K.)

"Swift spins a tale of empire-building, land reclamation, brewers and sluice-minders, bewhiskered Victorian patriarchs, insane and visionary relicts.... I can't remember when I read a book of such strange, insidious, unsettling power with a more startling cast of characters." -- Books and Bookmen (U.K.)

"Teems with energy, fertility, violence, madness -- demonstrates the irrepressible, wide-ranging talent of this young British writer." -- Washington Post Book World

"A formidably intelligent book -- animated by an impressive, angry pity at what human creatures are capable of doing to one another in the name of love and need.... The most powerful novel I have read for some time." -- The New York Review of Books

"Waterland appropriates the Fens as Moby Dick did whaling or Wuthering Heights the moors -- a beautiful, serious, and intelligent novel, admirably ambitious and original." -- The Observer (U.K.)

"Rich, ingenious, inspired." -- The New York Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swift's view of history is fascinating Feb. 16 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The aspect of this novel that I found most intriguing was Crick's fascination with history. He is plagued, as we all are, by the omnipresent question "Why?", and the novel is the story of his quest for the eternal answer. He views the persent as the ultimate indefineable dimension of time; the time when we as humans are the most vulnerable and unable to make heads from tails. He comes to the conclusion that we must look to the past to determine not only the future, but the "Here and Now" as well. Driven by an infinity of "Why?"s that haunt his daily life, Crick becomes a school teacher; a history teacher. He strives to show the students how history, no matter how distant it seems to the individual, is somehow linked to everyone, and how no piece of history is more important or monumental than another. Through the narration of his own personal experiences as well as the lives of his ancestors, Crick reveals the beauty and power of history to his students. He reaches them in a way that textbooks never dreamed of. Perhaps it is redemption he seeks in teaching his pupils to draw wisdom and foresight from the past. While Crick opens the gates of history for his eager students, he comes to terms with his own past.
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5.0 out of 5 stars about nothing April 1 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
And so it seems like everyone extracts something different from this book. I wasn't interested in the history as much as on the actual content, on the part that dealt with people. The content was confusing. But I liked his play on words. I liked it how he wasn't grammatically correct. I liked it how sentences wouldn't have to make sense the way they were written, but they still made sense to me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It just happens to be my favourite novel. March 27 2002
Format:Paperback
Now, I'm not going to try and pretend I can explain the different facets of just why I hold this novel so dear to my heart, because I can't. It's enough to say that it's a terribly heartfelt novel, about the past, present and the ways that humans rely on each to live and love, even when the ones they love seem lost to them. It sense of character and location seems persuasive, and the sense of loss that the narrator holds for his past and his wife is simply tragic. Wonderful.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Return to Waterland March 17 2002
Format:Paperback
I read Waterland almost two decades ago when it first appeared and was nominated for the Booker Prize. Since then I maintained a memory of it as a masterpiece and commended to it scores of friends. I came back and re-read it after recently discovering (and reviewing elsewhere on Amazon.com) W.G. Sebald's "Rings of Saturn" I was inspired by the coincidence that both novels are set in the same water-logged landscape of East Anglia (England) and both are centrally concerned with the way that history (and divergent versions of history) as well as the geography affect the interwoven course of lives, famous and not.
My return to Waterland left me less sanguine and commendatory. The voice throughout is that of soon-to-be- forcibly retired history teacher, Tom Crick and the style almost all the way through is that of an excessively didactic lecturer, telling the mainly woeful tales of his family and forbears as these stretched over several centuries. All the while the teacher is badgering his class with ironic rhetorical questions which, after a few hundred pages begin to annoy.
Don't get me wrong: this novel is very entertaining and presaged the more refined unfolding of family tragedy and entanglements that Swift mastered in "Last Orders" (which did win the Booker). Perhaps like Tom Crick who always says too much, the younger Swift wanted to get it all out in one fell swoop in Waterland. And he sure did that: there is early adolescent sex, murder, incest, suicides, spousal battery, kidnap, arson, a great deal of madness and mental defect, and a vividly described botched abortion. Interspersed are the mysteries associated with land drainage, eel biology, brewing ale and the French Revolution all revealing Swift's fascination with the ultimately unknowable nature of nature, human and otherwise.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary! March 1 2001
Format:Paperback
A reader must have patience and perseverance while reading Graham Swift's remarkable novel "Waterland." Like some of the better authors in British literature, Mr. Swift weaves theme upon theme with great virtuosity and skill; the reader must follow the turns and detours of the expansive plot while dealing with an unusual handling of time. The extraordinary tale is narrated by Tom Crick, a rambling storyteller and ex-history teacher from England's Fen Country. He is the son of a canal lock keeper, and the story he tells - although frequently convoluted, digressive, and rambling - is one of the most fascinating stories I have ever read. Right before he is forced to retire in the 1980's, Tom abandons the history curriculum of the school at which he teaches and relates instead a three-hundred page saga of the Fen Country involving murder, incest, madness, ghosts, revenge, and two centuries of pain and tragedy. He incorporates this remarkable history with references to the French Revolution and to his own painful story of growing up during World War II, becoming involved with a bizarre murder and with a witless half-brother who was conceived in order to become "Saviour of the World." It is a disquieting and painful novel, a work of Gothic proportions in which the reader must maintain the utmost concentration. But the rewards are great. I simply could not get this novel out of my mind while I was reading it. I quickly became enthralled with Tom Crick's touching story, with his striking historical account of his ancestors, and with his marvelously graphic description of the Fen Country and its austerity and often tragic hardships. In fact the Fen Country is a major character in the novel for it acts upon the characters in extraordinary ways. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book of all time!
This novel is really a story of "what might have been?" Everything was fine for the young lads for awhile; they secretly went off many times and made love, they didn't... Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2001 by Dontlistentome
5.0 out of 5 stars One exeptional book
One exceptional book Waterland is a book about a history teacher being forced into early retirement, the teacher changes the subject of the French revolution into his own life and... Read more
Published on April 17 2000 by kim m benedict
5.0 out of 5 stars A new kind of "history" lesson...
History is more than the mere retelling of facts and occurrences. History is about people. It is about raw feelings and experiences, emotions and reactions. Read more
Published on March 13 2000 by Al Alven
4.0 out of 5 stars once upon a time...a history teacher told me this story...
"~Waterland was a novel that held me captive....I was unable to put it down without reading it in its entirety. Read more
Published on March 13 2000 by Kelly Anne Burns
5.0 out of 5 stars Waterland--a Study of Human Nature
Like most of the readers who posted their reviews here, I agree that Graham Swift's Waterland is indeed a masterpiece. Read more
Published on March 5 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT, MOVING, SAD
Graham Swift is a great talent. Waterland is a wonderful novel. The narrator is Tom Crick who lived in the Fens in the 1930s and 1940s and is narrating the story from London in the... Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2000 by William M. Hessberg
3.0 out of 5 stars Norfolk Gothic
An interesting book, mostly by the lessons it gives in what to avoid when writing novels. In the thirties a group of young people experiment sexually, among them the narrator, his... Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars The characters in Waterland
This emotional novel takes the reader to the heights and depths of emotions. The characters, so well written and completely developed, paint the picture of life in Fenland. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful tale of love, loss and life's journey
Graham Swift's Waterland is a stellar novel. Swift's use of history was the perfect vehicle with which to tell the tragic story of the Atkinsons and the Cricks. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 1999
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