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Notwithstanding by Louis De Bernières


by Louis De Bernières

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I enjoyed the collection of characters that Louis de Bernieres offers in this set of stories. But that is as far as I can go. I enjoyed it, but I don't think I would be turning to it any time again. ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
Absolutely delightful. Recollection of his life in the village he grew up, more a collection of vignettes than linked stories, each a glimpse of the wonderful characters that live within. A young boy, Robert who befriend an injured loon, nun who are such had drivers the villagers know to stay put of their way, a pit man, a mole man, an older gent losing his marbles who often forgets to put on his pants. Amusing, sad, humorous and all wonderful. An amazing amount of dogs, cats who specialize, you will have to read this to understand what I mean, some not so friendly things happen to rabbits, but well life anywhere is not always kind.

Characters are mentioned constantly in other characters vignettes, some get a look at the people from many angles. Loved this one, it is wonderfully written, the prose outstanding, a few surprises, people are all so different and the author did a great job of showing us this. I found myself wondering how my neighbors would feel if I wrote about my glimpses of their lives in my small town. Believe you me we have several people here who would provide some raised eyebrows to say the least. Anyway read this one for a small glimpse into an English village of the past.

ARC from publisher. ( )
  Beamis12 | Oct 15, 2016 |
‘Notwithstanding’ is the name of a mythical English village, the name picked because the village life is notwithstanding. A set of interconnected stories show us the lives of the various village eccentrics as their way of life dies off. Some have the feel of fairy tale or fable; others are vignettes. Several characters show up multiple times; the most common is the boy Robert, who rescues and rehabilitates injured and orphaned birds, including a talking rook named Lizzie, and catches a legendary pike. Among the other villagers are the widow who goes everywhere with her husband’s ghost, the aging general whose mind is slipping and now goes to town with no pants on, a woman who realizes she’d best try and get on with folks, a Sixth Sense style ghost story, a maid who is seduced by her employer’s son, a ghost who summons the Rector, and more. The thread that binds them together is the erosion of village life by new people; people who complain about roosters crowing in the country, about ponds that aren’t fenced off, and the like. It’s nostalgia (de Bernieres grew up in just such a village and is most likely Robert) and it’s sweet in places, sad in many places, and funny in others. I don’t tend to go for ‘sweet’ or ‘cozy’ books but this one hit me just right. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Oct 10, 2016 |
In his afterward, deBernieres says "Britain really is an immense lunatic asylum...we believe in the right to eccentricity." Notwithstanding is the name of the village that is actually the main character of this novel. This is a collection of interlocking vignettes about various residents of the village, fictionalized stories that the author remembers from his youth. The author's affection for these quirky people shines through, and the reader can't help but enjoy his celebration of the times and characters described. Of course, the writing is masterful and lovely and absorbing. ( )
  sleahey | Oct 7, 2016 |
Quirky, Interesting, Charming Stories

These are not what I would call cozy stories. Most of them have a dark twist. Some are heart-breaking. Nor would I call them stories about the quintecential English village. No village would be this British, nor would its residents be this eccentric.

“Notwithstanding” is a collection of quirky, amusing, and often charming short stories. The town of Notwithstanding is a conglomerate of all that is an English village, as is Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon is all that is small town Minnesotan. Although, de Bernières states that he drew from his hometown of Wormley, in Surrey, and the surrounding villages.

Eleven of the 22 stories were previously published in magazines, newspapers and on radio. At 360 pages, de Bernières gives the reader lots of entertainment for the price. The tales are well-written and sprinkled with interesting, uncommon words, such as palaver, costive, mashed neeps, tench, rudd. The stories could be stand-alone, but do reference events occurring in earlier tales.

The characters are singular. My favorite is Obadiah Oak, known as Jack, who is the village’s last peasant. Jack lives in a tiny cottages handed down through seven generations and smelling of two hundred years of peasant life. His teeth are like tombstones, his stubble like a filecard, his lips like kippers.

Evidence of the quality of “Notwithstanding” is that my husband, a very discerning reader, picked it up when I had barely turned the last page and began reading it with chuckles and occasional grimaces. It does not disappoint. ( )
2 vote brendajanefrank | Sep 12, 2016 |
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This book is dedicated to my children, Robin and Sophie. May they take their village with them wherever they go
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'I'm not in. Over'
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Welcome to the village of Notwithstanding where a lady dresses in plus fours and shoots squirrels, a retired general gives up wearing clothes altogether, and a spiritualist lives in a cottage with the ghost of her husband. This book is a moving depiction of a charming vanished England.… (more)

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