A Curious Earth

A Curious Earth

Paperback

By (author) Gerard Woodward

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 196mm x 19mm | 200g
  • Publication date: 6 March 2008
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 009949065X
  • ISBN 13: 9780099490654
  • Sales rank: 293,212

Product description

By the author of Booker-shortlisted I'll Go To Bed At Noon. Aldous Jones is in a bad way: his dilapidated house is empty of family but full of hoarded odds and ends that remind him of his dead wife and son. A preference for whisky over washing rapidly leads to his hospitalisation but it also reawakens his desire for sex and adventure and his lifelong passion for art. What follows is a heartbreakingly funny quest that will lead him first to the National Gallery, where he is bewitched by a Rembrandt painting, and then to Ostend, to stay with his bohemian son and a ridiculous Dutch sexologist and then through a series of somewhat misguided relationships with sympathetic women to an ending of devatating poignancy...

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Author information

Gerard Woodward was born in London in 1961. After studying painting and anthropology, he published three prize-winning collections of poetry and then turned to novel writing with an ambitious trilogy of novels based on the lives of his parents. The first, August, was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award, the second, I'll Go To Bed At Noon was on the shortlist of the 2004 Man Booker Prize and the third, A Curious Earth, was met with critical acclaim. Since then he has published another collection of poetry, We Were Pedestrians (shortlisted for the 2005 T.S. Eliot Prize) and begun teaching Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in Bath, where he now lives.

Review quote

"Every now and then, you come across a book that is so intensely satisfying you want to buy a sack-load of copies and dole them out to strangers on the street, A Curious Earth is one...if only there were more writers of his calibre at work in Britain today" -- Alastair Sooke Daily Telegraph "Though Woodward writes of family tragedy, his canvas is so busy with artfully drawn characters, telling incidents and the beautifully delineated ebb and flow of domestic life that the experience of reading him is richly involving, poignantly comic, and even somehow uplifting... his trilogy is a wonderful achievement" -- Justine Jordan Guardian "This immediately convincing and captivating novel is full of wit and humour and joy" -- David Flusfeder Financial Times "A masterful portrait of old age and loneliness. I cannot praise it highly enough. If you haven't read the previous books, no matter - you will" Mail on Sunday "Woodward wears his influences lightly, and tells this strange story about living and dying in a voice as beautiful and bright as it is learned" -- Melissa Katsoulis The Times

Editorial reviews

Lonely old English widower makes various attempts to get a life. Aldous Jones, pushing 70, lives alone in a largish house in North London. We have met his family before, in I'll Go To Bed At Noon (2004), a Man Booker finalist, where the focus was on his wife, Colette, and son, Janus, a raging alcoholic. Now, in the Thatcherite 1980s, Colette and Janus are dead, and two other sons live overseas; only his daughter Juliette still resides in London. Aldous, a retired high-school art teacher, is a borderline alcoholic himself. Juliette scolds him for his frequent nips of whisky and points out helpfully that he smells bad. It is she who finds him unconscious after his first fall. A brief hospital stay and a visit with his son Julian in Ostend, Belgium, revive his spirits. The high point is a bohemian party where he nuzzles an exotic black female artist. A trip to Amsterdam is ruined, though, when the woman turns up with her hitherto unmentioned husband. Back in London, another romantic possibility looms when Aldous meets middle-aged Maria in a class on Flemish for Beginners. True, she's an airhead and a philistine, but Aldous seems to be making progress until she stands him up. Woodward stacks the deck against poor Aldous, making him an uninteresting victim. There's another dash of the exotic when his other son, James, an anthropologist, descends on him, with his Amazonian Indian wife and child in tow; but after their departure, Aldous is still the same lonely imbiber. He pursues Maria into the workplace, joining her as a volunteer at a school for blind kids, but this leads to disaster as he blurts out a marriage proposal (yes, he's been drinking), has another fall and is fired. His final project, converting part of his house into an art gallery, offers some black comedy which doesn't quite work. A low-key, dreary portrait of old age. (Kirkus Reviews)