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China: A Novel by Alan Wall
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China: A Novel (edition 2004)

by Alan Wall

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222476,730 (4.33)9
Member:Nickelini
Title:China: A Novel
Authors:Alan Wall
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Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Read in 2012, Family, British literature, Jazz musicians

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China by Alan Wall

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I love this cover. In fact, the only reason why I bought this book is the cover. Big fan of blue and white dishes.

However, both the cover and the title of this novel do a great disservice to the book and the author. I think this looks like a "woman's novel," when it's actually anything but. The jacket flap said that one of the characters was the heir to an English pottery company, so I thought somehow crockery would be important to the story. Although there were a few pages about the history of the china industry in Stoke-on-Trent, this novel has almost nothing to do with dishes. And even less to do with a country in Asia with a population of over a billion people.

This is actually a very masculine novel--one I'd compare to Graham Swift. It's also very literary--the type of novel that might have been nominated for the Booker prize (it wasn't, but it's of that sort).

Digby Walton (the pottery heir), is facing old age and all his memories. His rather n'er do well son just wants to play trumpet in jazz clubs. There's also a charming ex-film star and her anarchist son.

What I like: The writing is really wonderful, though often quite dense. The characters were all multidimensional and interesting.

What I didn't like: at almost 400 pages, it was too long. It was a bit too meandering and lacking in cohesion for me. And I really was hoping for more on the pottery.

Recommended for: readers of literary fiction set in jazz clubs. ( )
  Nickelini | Nov 12, 2012 |
An excellent novel. Very well written. I found myself very emotionally involved with the characters. ( )
  Mouldywarp | Jun 3, 2011 |
Showing 2 of 2
Witty, convincing, and quite moving: a touching portrait of private grief and redemption.
added by Nickelini | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 1, 2004)
 
But if China is essentially the tale of decline, of debts piling up, of relationships foundering, of prostates starting to misbehave, it is also a celebration of intellectual vigour and the power of the mind. A highly civilised writer has, not for the first time, produced a highly civilised book.
 
Though he sometimes appears to be both, Wall is neither dispassionate nor cruel. Nevertheless he's determined in the way only a Yorkshire novelist can be, so there was some risk that China would leave its readers, not to say its characters, feeling exhausted and browbeaten. By and large, Wall avoids this, and a surprisingly optimistic ending completes a dense, poetic, exhilarating, intensely readable book.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099453851, Paperback)

Digby Walton was once the heir to an English pottery company. Now in old age he contemplates the history of that company as he reflects upon the modern world. He stares with a tragic eye at the society that surrounds him. His own heir is Theo, who wishes to ignore history and immerse himself entirely in his passion for jazz. Alan Wall's novel weaves back and forth between the present and the twentieth century that formed it, its war and industries; industries that once propelled an empire but now appear in permanent decline, asking constantly what art contributes to life and whether life can ever survive for long without it.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Digby Walton was once the heir to an English pottery factory. Now in old age he contemplates the history of that company. His son, Theo, wishes simply to play trumpet in a jazz band. Digby's neighbour, Daisy Gresham, seeks her own elusive son.

(summary from another edition)

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