The Clothes On Their Backs

Linda Grant

The Clothes On Their Backs

The Clothes On Their Backs

  • Title: The Clothes On Their Backs
  • Author: Linda Grant
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 214
  • Format: Kindle Edition

Orange Prize winner and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008, Linda Grant has created an enchanting portrait of a woman who, having endured unbearable loss, finds solace in the family secrets her estranged uncle reveals In vivid and supple prose, Grant subtly constructs a powerful story of family, love, and the hold the past has on the present Vivien Kovacs, a sensOrange Prize winner and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008, Linda Grant has created an enchanting portrait of a woman who, having endured unbearable loss, finds solace in the family secrets her estranged uncle reveals In vivid and supple prose, Grant subtly constructs a powerful story of family, love, and the hold the past has on the present Vivien Kovacs, a sensitive, bookish girl grows up sealed off from the world by her timid Hungarian refugee parents, who conceal the details of their history and shy away from any encounter with the outside world She learns how to navigate British society from an eccentric cast of neighbors including a fading ballerina, a cartoonist, and a sad woman who wanders the city and teaches Vivien to be beautiful She loses herself in books and reinvents herself according to her favorite characters, but it is through clothes that she ultimately defines herself Against her father s wishes, she forges a relationship with her uncle, a notorious criminal and slum landlord, who, in his old age, wants to share his life story As he exposes the truth about her family s past Vivien learns how to be comfortable in her own skin and how to be alive in the world Grant is a spectacularly humanizing writer whose morally complex characters explore the line between selfishness and self preservation.

Recent Comments "The Clothes On Their Backs"

"If you try, if you have a profound willingness to let yourself go completely you can enter the mind of another person. It takes a certain habit of thought, honed by many years of reading in the way I read, that immersion in books, so that they are not so much inside your head; rather, as if they are a dream, you are inside them."That is how I felt reading this book. I entered the mind of not just the narrator, Vivian, but of all the characters. Ervin and Berta, her parents, who escaped from Hun [...]

Vivien, the protagonist in this unfocused and bland novel, reminisces on her youth and her attempts at understanding her uncle, a famous slumlord in London, through his narrative of his upbringing in pre-WWII Hungary. Well, if at least Vivien was an interesting character, the reader may want to know more about her as she discovers her family’s background. Alas, Vivien is as bland as the story she tells. Her parents are two-dimensional caricatures of timid Jewish refugees, and the reader suspec [...]

Rochia cea nouă (The Clothes On Their Backs, publicat în 2008 și câștigător al Premiului Booker) este un roman scris de autoarea britanică Linda Grant, în care ne este prezentată viaţa unei tinere sensibile, care doreşte să-şi regăsească identitatea şi să afle secretele familiei ei.Vivien Kovaks face parte dintr-o familie de evrei unguri care a emigrat în Marea Britanie la începutul celui de-al doilea Război Mondial, stabilindu-se la Londra. Vivien locuieşte în Benson Court [...]

This is my kind of book- a well-written novel from a woman's point of view that has layers and layers of meaning. The story is captivating and the characters fully realized and multidimensional without being overly conscious. The joys to be had in dressing and costuming in all of the ways that clothes express who we are or who we wish we could be ties all of the parts of the book into a great package.The main character, Vivien, is endearing through as she searches for her family history by talki [...]

This book was a birthday present, and it's not a mystery why it was chosen for me. The story contains, among other things: slumlords, Jews, immigrants to the UK, the UK, and (as the name suggests) clothes. The giver probably over-estimates my interest in clothing and the acquisition of clothing, as many men do of many women, but it's a forgivable mistake.My own interest in clothing is one of necessity, although not in the strictest sense of needing it to survive. I don't love clothing for its ow [...]

I thought this book was great. I don't understand some of the 2 star ratings and people who said it was boring. It is a coming of age story, a story of discovering your roots, and a story of coming to terms with who you are and where you come from. Clothing does play an important role, as the title suggests, but in a way that paints important pictures of the main characters - Vivian Kovaks and her uncle Sandor. Clothing is very important to each character but for entirely different reasons. For [...]

What a disappointment! This book was shortlisted for the Mann Booker Prize so I figured it was a good bet. Instead, the story was really, really predictable. This is just another coming of age, child of holocaust survivors story, the wrinkle here being the immigrant parents don't tell their daughter about their past at all, and she discovers their history through a rogue uncle she meets when she's a young adult. The plot telegraphed all it's 'surprises' from the get-go. Some of the writing was l [...]

Deceptively quiet. A deep exploration of personal family secrets on one level. An even deeper meditation on Fascism and the universal immigrant experience on another level. Very well done.

YES, as the title suggests, this book talks a lot about clothes – silk gowns and vintage cocktail dresses, leather jackets and red snakeskin shoes, rags to riches.But this is not your usual novel about fashion, written by a disgruntled magazine editorial assistant and studded with designer names. Orange Prize-wining British author Linda Grant takes the familiar phrase used to describe so many immigrants – “they came to this country with only the clothes on their backs” – and turns it i [...]

How could anyone not like a book in which the author has one of her characters state the following about George W. Bush (whom he fervently admired)?"Not a smart man, but's that what you want--the last thing we need is for the intellectuals to gain power; I tell you, some ideas are so ridiculous only a professor could swallow them." (15)Contrary to what you might expect, the novel is actually set in 1970s London against the backdrop of the rise of the National Front. But much of it is also set in [...]

The narrator of the novel is Vivien Kovacs the only child of Hungarian immigrant parents, Ervin and Berta who keep themselves to themselves and are even secretive about their past with their own daughter. It is a tantalizing portrait of life for this family in 1970’s London, it is only after Vivien is grown up and once again living back at home after a personal disaster that she decides to discover her roots. Using snippets of information she has overheard as a child she discovers her father [...]

Built on a promising premise of showing us how clothes define our selves, this novel was also ambitious in its attempt to capture the history of a slum landlord in London through the eyes of his estranged niece. Interspersed with thread narratives about slavery, the plight of East European refugees, discrimination and family ties, it also tries to deal with a displaced youth's sense of belonging and relations with her timid parents who are afraid to live life (in her opinion). But perhaps it is [...]

The Clothes on Their Backs, by Linda Grant is a story of a first generation American woman's search for her family's past, something her parents have deliberately kept from her. Isolated in their British flat, her parents keep a kind of old-world mixed with fear outlook on life. Growing up in the 60's and 70's of such parents, the narrator naturally begins to explore her world in a way that horrifies her parents, even if much of it is kept secret from them. She gravitates towards her much disapp [...]

Linda Grant comes to this year’s Booker longlist following on from her longlisting for this year’s Orange Prize, an accolade she won in 2000 with her second novel, When I Lived In Modern Times. Her third novel, Still Here, flirted with the Booker back in 2002, but never made it to the shortlist. The Clothes On Their Backs (2008), her fourth novel, might yet see her take one step further to the Booker, especially in a year where, judging by the discussions on the Booker site, the field seems [...]

Two Jewish brothers, one who escaped Hungary, on the verge of WWII, the other who stayed and suffered thru a work camp, are seen in the 70's thru the eyes of a daughter/niece. One, a reclusive workaholic, has never even told his daughter they were Jewish, and the other, a flamboyant , gangster/slumlord is anxious to tell his story to his long unknown niece. The theme of clothing is ever present; Do the clothes make the man? Is the outward appearance of a person, or a life, a factor in who one re [...]

There are times when one picks up a book, begins to read, and thinks, "I just can't seem to dig into this one." Sometimes, the effort pays off. I remember this feeling when I started to read "Stones from the River" - difficult to get into, but I stuck with it, and it is one of my all-time favorites books. Unfortunately, "The Clothes on their Backs" is not such a story. I stuck with it, and frankly, the characters were flat, two-dimensional. I stuck with this one, but would not recommend.

Foi um livro que julguei pela capa (vendo tudo muito arrumadinho estão a ver?) que seria algo divertido, mas que bruta desilusão que apanhei. Fala da Vivien e que vive com os pais, que são um casal de regufiados, mas num dia aparece em casa um Tio que ela não conhecia, e mostra-lhe um outro mundo que ela desconhecia. Esperava mais deste livro, por isso fiquei desiludida com o raio do livro.aviciadadoslivros/

BORING! i was very disappointed in this book. i expected so much for. i found it long, vague, going nowhere.

thought i was going to love this - but it really didn't work for me. the characters seemed un-believable and the story dragged. surprised it almost won the booker!

Avoid at all costs. I cannot believe the Man Booker would shortlist this. And they really need to redeem themselves since snubbing _Arthur and George_ for the win two years ago.

Consegui ler seguido até meio do livro, depois simplesmente saltei para o final por curiosidade para não abandonar o livro a meio.É um livro chato, aborrecido, com uma historia que parece sempre que vai dar a lado nenhum, onde a autora perde tempo com pormenores insignificantes.Uma história sobre um ex preso do tempo da guerra, do tempo de Hitler, que conta a sua história mas que esta está sempre a ser interrompida pela história da personagem principal que para mim nada tem de interessant [...]

Originally published on my blog here in September 2009.The 2008 Booker Prize short list has once again proved dull, to the point that this, the fourth I have started, is the only one I have so far bothered to finish. As well as being an enjoyable book from the short list, it also falls into another small category, Booker-short-listed-novel-not-tapping-into-British-post-colonial-guilt. True, it does have immigrants as characters, but they're wartime Hungarian refugees, not from the former Empire [...]

Generally, I don't like when a book is simply about a theme - for instance, a review that starts out - this book is about racism, or classicism, or whatever ism. For the most part, I like a story that comments on a theme, makes you think - and with that said, I was immediately skeptical of a book that has such a hit you in the head metaphor as its title, as well as its running theme. Luckily, this book is about a story, not about a big "ISM", and while the metaphor is perhaps to simplistic for t [...]

دیدار اتفاقی با یک دوست قدیمی باعث می شود که ویویان کواکس به یاد خاطرات جوانی اش بیافتد، به یاد ناکامی اش در عشق و ازدواج، به یاد سختی هایی که پدر و مادر مهاجرش کشیدند، و به یاد عموی ناخلف و جنایتکارش. عمویی که چیزی را به وی داد که پدر و مادرش از آن دریغ کرده بودند. گذشته پنهانی پ [...]

I don't like writing negative reviews. This time I have to.From the opening page I had issues with the style and the stilted dialogue. I decided to give it a chance but at page 106 and only 39% read, I have declared defeat.The main character, Vivian, is underdeveloped and unlikable. Her parents are unrealistic shadows of people. Her first husband dies from an accident that evokes no feelings of sympathy. Vivian then goes in search of her mysterious uncle who is banned from her parents flat and h [...]

Coming of age story, set in London 1970s, plus family's backstory of refugees from Hungary post WW2 and 1956, plus Rachman-like slum landlord uncle and punk/National front era. Very interesting characters, wonderful evocation of shabby milieu and fascinating descriptions of the way clothing echoes or even establishes character.

This would make a great book club discussion book. I always find it interesting to hear different perspectives on the same event and this book does a wonderful job of presenting two, three and more sides to events. Additionally, can a bad person have a good side? That is what I think would be interesting to discuss especially in regards to Sandor, Vivien's uncle. Many things to think about with this one.

By the end of the book I was thinking "So what exactly is the author trying to say?" Was this about family dynamics? Was it about the immigrant experience? Was it about immaturity? Was it about life choices? I'm still not sure. What I can say is that the only character I truly liked was Sandor.

Was just about to add this to my To Read list when I realised I've already read it some years ago. From what I remember, it was an excellent well written book about families, secrets and how people have to deal with all that goes with it. Recommended

One of the most powerful books I have read.

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    Published :2019-03-26T22:39:04+00:00