The Northern Clemency

The Northern Clemency

3.47 (2,311 ratings by Goodreads)
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BOOKER SHORTLISTED 2008. An epic chronicle of the last 20 years of British life from the Booker shortlisted and Granta Best of Young British novelist, Philip Hensher. Beginning in 1974 and ending with the fading of Thatcher's government in 1996, 'The Northern Clemency' is Philip Hensher's epic portrait of an entire era, a novel concerned with the lives of ordinary people and history on the move. 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, 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 with 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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 736 pages
  • 160 x 237 x 59mm | 1,112g
  • Fourth Estate Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0007174799
  • 9780007174799
  • 418,328

Review quote

'Hensher is an anatomist of familial tensions and marshals his large cast of characters deftly. He has an impeccable eye for nuances of character and setting, and the details of Seventies food and decor are lovingly done: the mushroom vol-au-vents, the white wall units with brown smoked glass!an engaging and hugely impressive novel.' The Times 'The Northern Clemency - vast, compendious, wearing its ambition like an outsize boutonniere - makes a virtue of its exactness, its recapitulative zeal, its absolute determination to jam everything in and sit unshiftably on the lid.' Independent on Sunday 'Hensher has a forensic eye for detail, providing nightmarish glimpses of the everyday!engrossing, amusing and moving.' Independent 'An epic novel.' Guardian 'Hensher is fascinating good on how social transformation manifests itself in the textures, colours and manners of a culture!extremely funny, but also deeply humane.' The Sunday Times. A remarkable novel!Hensher's technique of shifting continually from voice to voice, the third-person narrative perceived from the viewpoint of each character in turn, gives a cumulative effect of luminous richness, like a perfect piece of orchestration!but there is something more than brilliant cleverness that makes this novel extraordinary.' Sunday Times 'Hensher's is a bold, impressively sustained attempt to mark a transitional phase in modern Englishness as seen largely from the domestic sphere.' TLS 'A beautifully written book!as impressive in its scope as in the effortless artistry of the language. Its characters are well--defined and plausible, while the narrative is leavened with deftly observed humour that gently pokes its lower--middle class protagonists in the ribs.' Scotland on Sunday The Northern Clemency is an immense novel which sweeps through 20 epochal years, showing us that a country can move rapidly into the future but that some individuals often remain shackled to the events of the past. In The Northern Clemency, an early contender for novel of the year, Philip Hensher looks in detail at a small group of people over a generation, and in doing so presents the great drama and inexhaustible wonder of ordinary life. Spectator 'The Northern Clemency is a terrific novel - a truly fine achievement.' Cressida Connolly, New Statesman 'As with most families, it's the small private moment that fascinate.' The London Paper 'Essential for anyone who wants to be ahead of the game by literary awards season.' Elle 'His saga of rather ordinary Sheffield families from the 1970s is strangely compelling. His characters are wonderfully drawn. There's an almost Proustian care in detailing (the curious dynamics of a party; the particular atmosphere of a municipal swimming pool). I loved it.' Charlotte Higgins, Guardian online The "state-of-the-nation" novel has made a return in recent years. This is the most interesting and accomplished of them that I've come across, precisely because it doesn't do the usual state-of-the-nation things. Hensher immaculately provides texture and atmosphere.' The Tablet 'An epic novel that spans 1974-1996. It's a laudable undertaking and Hensher is very good at describing a suburban 1970s childhood and adolescence.' Metro, Fiction of the Week 'An ambitious portrait of life in the north over three turbulent decades.' Observer 'Picks for 2008' 'Expansive yet precise, it leads the reader from the minutiae of family life to broad public events with the surest of hands.' Guardian 'Picks for 2008' 'Has the bones of a great British novel but, in practice, it is something more delicate -- a miniature made up of many moving parts, like an intricate piece of clockwork!What the book does very well is to capture individual scenes and a feeling of its time and place.' The Sunday Business Post 'Hensher has clearly been broadly influenced by Alan Hollinghurst's Man--Booker-winning The Line of Beauty but has written something distinctly his own. Combining his intelligence with a less expected humanity and storytelling drive, The Northern Clemency powerfully slices and preserves 20 years of British life and deserves to be remembered for at least that length of time.' Esquire 'In a pin--sharp portrait of Sheffield this reviewer knows well, Hensher charts the shifting fortunes of the Glovers and the Sellers as they negotiate the seismically changing decades of the late 20th century.' Daily Mail 'The big question: is this novel worth, at a minute a page, 12 hours of our time? I think it is.' Scotsman Praise for 'The Mulberry Empire': 'It's when he turns his pen to the more minute matters of the body and heart that Hensher changes from a merely clever writer into a moving one.' Ned Denny, Daily Mail 'Hensher is a publisher's dream. At last, he seems to have returned to the fictional territory of his earliest novel, trusting less to research than to his sharp wit, keen eye and love of London.' Patrick Gale, Independent 'Hensher is gifted with a great virtuosity and a relentless intelligence.' Ian Sansom, Guardian Praise for 'The Fit': 'A comedy of manners crammed with cleverness, warmth and genuinely funny jokes!Hensher is incapable of writing a dull sentence.' Daily Telegraph 'One of the funniest, most touching, most unexpected novels I've read for a long time.' Guardian 'In the best comic novel tradition, "The Fit" is also serious and touching!and like many of the best things in life it fell from a clear sky, and is all the more intriguing for that.' The Times 'A sharp novel, full of deft dialogue, ridiculous moments and enjoyable sallies.' Literary Review 'Playful, perceptive, and guaranteed to keep the reader's mind on its toes.' The Telegraph 'Genuinely beautiful.' The Spectator
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About Philip Hensher

Philip Hensher is a columnist for The Independent, arts critic for The Spectator and a Granta Best of Young British novelist. He has written five novels, 'Other Lulus', 'Kitchen Venom' (Winner of the Somerset Maughn Award), 'Pleasured', the Booker-longlisted 'The Mulberry Empire' and 'The Fit', as well as a collection of short stories, 'The Bedroom of the Mister's House'. He lives in South London.
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Rating details

2,311 ratings
3.47 out of 5 stars
5 17% (396)
4 36% (823)
3 30% (693)
2 12% (270)
1 6% (129)
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