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The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis

The Queen's Gambit (original 1983; edition 1983)

by Walter Tevis

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4691922,081 (4.17)15
Title:The Queen's Gambit
Authors:Walter Tevis
Info:Random House Inc (T) (1983), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 243 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (1983)



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I love this book. It’s feeling really challenging to try to start my next (any) book because I doubt I’ll enjoy it as much as I liked this one. I have added this one to my favorites shelf.

I’m so grateful that my book club agreed to read this for our March book. For me it was the perfect book at the perfect time. In fact, some of my book club members were having a hard time getting a copy, so I quickly finished the last couple of chapters so that they could read my library copy before its due date. That was easy to do. This book was easy to pick up and hard to put down. My preference when reading books is to stop reading at the end of chapters or at least at the end of mid-chapter marked breaks, but with this book I was happy to read until I had to put the book down to do something else. Finishing a sentence was enough for me. I didn’t want to stop reading until I absolutely had to stop.

Beth Harmon is an amazing and memorable character. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her life and reading this amazing coming of age story. I loved both the character and the story.

The secondary characters are also very well drawn out, to just the right amount, in my opinion, and they all also contribute to making this story great.

I don’t even play chess and there is so much in this story that is play by play during chess games, and I had no idea what was going on with the relaying of chess pieces moving on the board or what they meant, yet the descriptions completely held my attention; I was riveted. I was hooked for start to finish. I think if I knew the game of chess I might have gotten even more out of the story, though I have no complaints reading it not knowing the game.

I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy reading about Beth as much when she aged (age 8 to age 19) but I found her always interesting. In fact, even though the book ended in a satisfying way, I’d read a sequel if there was one. Unfortunately, this book was published in 1983, the author’s seventh book, and he died in 1984, so this is his last book.

The book is a really fast read; it has 243 pages and 14 chapters, some long. The story took a few unexpected turns in the last couple of chapters. I appreciated the twists in the storyline.

This is a story about a girl who’s a chess prodigy but if I had a thrillers shelf I’d use it for this book. It did read like a thriller, especially parts in the middle and the end.

I wouldn’t say that the language is gorgeous, and it’s not a particularly quotable book, but I think that it’s beautifully written. The characters, particularly the main character, are completely believable. It’s a brilliantly constructed book. Though it isn’t a long book and the events take place over only 11 years, it felt like an epic to me.

I’ve always wanted to learn to play chess, though I think the fun would be playing at an advanced level. At this point I doubt I could learn to play past a beginner level, and I certainly don’t have the aptitude to play the way the best chess players can play. It seems as though it would be a thrill to be able to play at a top level. I got a bit of vicarious satisfaction from “watching” Beth play the game. This book made me even more curious and interested in the game. If I had read this as a teen or young adult I’ll bet I’d have made an effort to learn and play chess games.

Highly recommended. Particularly recommended for those who enjoy coming of age stories, orphan stories, those have an interest in chess, physical fitness, addiction, mentoring, and feminism. ( )
  Lisa2013 | Feb 16, 2017 |
I adored this book so much I can ignore a few problems. It made me want to take up chess again. ( )
  newnoz | Aug 6, 2016 |
!! ( )
  Widsith | Oct 5, 2015 |
One thing I found particularly distasteful about this book was Tevis's treatment of the quasi-lesbian relationship between Jolene and Beth in the orphanage. Now I do NOT mean by this that I find anything distasteful about lesbianism per se. My problem is its nature in this novel as a somewhat non-consensual sexual experiment by an older girl on a younger, which borders (at the very least) on child abuse and which is apparently seen by Tevis as innocuous or even as something positive. I get a sense of Tevis as a very creepy voyeur writing sexually provocative material about children.

I also have a hard time making sense of Beth's use of pills and alcohol – more precisely, of Tevis's reaction to Beth's addictions. He obviously wasn't presenting them as something desirable, but he doesn't depict Beth as making any particular attempt to conquer them, except to the extent that she goes on the wagon from time to time when excessive use interferes with her chess abilities. This is an issue, in fairness, that Tevis might have intended to address in his never-written sequel; but for The Queen's Gambit as a stand-alone, the treatment of Beth's addictions leaves the reader with a real sense of incompleteness in the story.

The lengthy descriptions of chess moves are positively tedious – but, then, I'm no chess aficionado. These lengthy passages made the book quite a quick-read for me since I barely skimmed over them. ( )
  CurrerBell | Aug 6, 2015 |
Great psychological suspense - who would think chess game descriptions could be so revealing or riveting. Very compelling reading. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394528018, Hardcover)

Beth Harmon becomes an orphan when her parents are killed in an automobile accident. At eight years old, she is placed in an orphanage in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, where the children are given a tranquillizer twice a day. Plain and shy, she learns to play chess from the janitor in the basement and discovers that she is a chess genius. She is adopted by Alma and Allston Wheatley and goes to a local school, but remains an outsider. Desperate to study chess and having no money, she steals a chess magazine from a newspaper store and then some money from Alma Wheatley and a girl at school, so that she can enter a tournament. She also steals some of the tranquillizers to which she is becoming addicted. At thirteen she wins the tournament, and by sixteen she is competing in the US Open Championship. Like Fast Eddie (in "The Hustler"), she hates to lose.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:39 -0400)

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