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The Blue Book by A. L. Kennedy
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The Blue Book (2011)

by A. L. Kennedy

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105None114,154 (3)17
  1. 00
    Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter (Limelite)
    Limelite: Trans-Atlantic voyages of self-discovery and epiphany but of dissimilar scope.
  2. 00
    The Waves by Virginia Woolf (Limelite)
    Limelite: Leading female characters in both books live internal true lives.
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This book is a sometimes infuriating but ultimately satisfying tangle. I had to take my time to untwist the complicated strands, to slow down so I didn't miss the beautiful (and funny) language Kennedy uses so well. ( )
  lizzielou | Aug 14, 2013 |
Where does refinement and sophistication end and degeneration start?
What to say about a book where the writing style is the main story? That the storyline is blue - like advertised? ( )
  Mikalina | Jul 24, 2013 |
What we have here is the reincarnation of Virginia Woolf. Prose like a dream that carries the reader along on waves of internal dialogue suited exactly to a building mystery that is revealed as Elizabeth, her current lover, Derek, and her past lover, Arthur Lockwood, sail to America.

Why are they all on this boat? Are they fleeing someone, something; are they engaged in a dance of contest for Beth’s love – is it lost?

Derek is ill-tempered, prone to sulks, and prostrated by seasickness; Elizabeth, daughter of a magician, isn’t sure why she’s on the boat with him. Arthur fell in love with card tricks and magic as a boy and is now obsessed with numbers and is a psychic reader. He and Elizabeth, who was his partner in his auditorium sessions, share a number code for use in public places. One: listen; Two: look at me; Three: touch me; Four: fuck me; Five: help, or come. . .Eight: no; Eleven: be beautiful.

An unreliable narrator opens the book, telling the reader that “this book is for you.” Gradually, surreptitiously almost, the narrator reveals a struggling rebirth of self – but which “you” is the book for?

This is a novel about love’s destruction by horrific events kept secret and the possibility for love’s resurrection if enough determination, force, and will lies within the lover’s heart. Elizabeth tells herself that “. . .loving the unlovable is stupid, is self harm – loving the reasonable is what I need and I can have that.” But does she want that, does she even believe it? Can she overcome the secret in her past that drove her from her first love – Arthur – and prove to him that she still loves him?

Kennedy has written a book so fine yet harsh, so fragile yet strong, so repressed yet overflowing with emotion that the tension of the lovers’ dance is unbearable and can only be broken by a painful confession that could destroy everything – the reason for the Blue Book. It’s devastating. Sit up and take notice of this writer; she's utterly original and she's going to be important. ( )
  Limelite | Apr 17, 2013 |
Well. This is one of THOSE books...as soon as I finished it I flipped back to the beginning and read it again. So have read it twice now, and what do I think? Incisive. Impassioned. Witty. Sexy. Clever. Sad. Beguilingly strange.

Elizabeth Barber is on a cruise with her boyfriend Derek. Problem is, that wasn't the plan. The plan was to take this 7-day cruise with her sometime lover Arthur Lockwood, who is also aboard. Seems Arthur and Elizabeth have a long history together and apart--5 years as lovers working as fraudulent mediums, a split, then an unexpected reunion in "sodding Beverley" followed by years of surreptitious meetings akin to the current cruise (minus Derek, of course, who decided, in innocence, to turn this into a holiday with Elizabeth complete with marriage proposal). Arthur and Elizabeth are "bad" people who are bad for each other, Elizabeth believes.

That's the simple plot stuff. Which is next to nothing of what this book is about. Addressed to "you," the book is a kind of Blue Book, not of gun values, grammar or whatever, but of the soul. A Blue Book of life, love, conscience, sorrow, survival. ( )
  beaujoe | Mar 24, 2013 |
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Book description
While on a transatlantic trip with her soon-to-be-fiance Derek, Elizabeth unexpectedly runs into ex-lover Arthur, with whom she shares a shady past: the pair once worked as traveling spiritual mediums who conned the vulnerable by pretending to contact the spirits of departed loved ones.
While Derek remains seasick and cabin-bound, Elizabeth wanders the ship, alternately avoiding and seeking out Arthur. Unable to avoid memories of their fractured past, she must face the deception they practiced even as she accepts the peace they brought to the grief-stricken who sought their services.
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Boarding an ocean liner with Derek, her almost fiance, Beth comes face-to-face with her past in the form of Arthur, a not-quite-ex-lover, which conjures up the memories of the shady life they used to lead, acting as spiritual mediums to fleece the innocent out of their hard-earned money.… (more)

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