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Kissing Alice by Jacqueline Yallop

Kissing Alice (2010)

by Jacqueline Yallop

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I chose this book from the library for my alphabet challenge as I had read good reviews of her latest book, Obedience. I don't like the title of this book. The main character of the book is actually a book.
Arthur Craythorne steals a book while painting and decorating and becomes fascinated by the coloured plates, but is unable to read it because of illiteracy. He realises it is special and during WW1 he learns to read, so on his return home is able to appreciate the text. He shares his passion for this book with his daughter Alice. However, Arthur has returned home a changed man and this is where the story changes and becomes rather unpleasant in my opinion. Alice enjoys the special attention her father bestows on her, which I struggled with.
The book divides the family and his dying wish is that it passes to Alice.
The story is narrated by the different family members and we observe the passing of time from the various perspectives with the book gradually changing ownership until one day Arthur's granddaughter learns that the book, now somewhat damaged and changed, is in fact very valuable.
I finished the story with a yen to see the book referred to and felt sad that a sexual overtone had sullied what was actually an interesting premise for a story. It could make a good book for discussion as the book suffers a similar fate to Alice.
I felt the characters were well drawn and credibly depicted a working class family during the war years. It is a story that is dominated by secrets and lies. ( )
  HelenBaker | Nov 30, 2011 |
This is quite a strange book. It starts with Arthur, a decorator just before the war, stealing a book from a house he is decorating. From that point onwards, the book is pretty much the main character in this story. He can't read it, but he takes it home and looks at the pictures. Later, during the First World War, he learns to read and when he goes back home he reads it with his younger daughter, Alice. This is where things turn a bit unpleasant, as hinted at in the blurb.

Basically, the remainder of the story is the book being passed from pillar to post, Alice being a bit strange, and not a lot else really. One of the worst things about this book is that it's completely emotionless. I felt nothing for any of the characters and found it all very matter of fact.

I think the author is a good writer but just needs to inject more feeling into her work. However, it's clear from the other reviews that most people don't agree with me and have loved the book, and so perhaps this is one of those books you either love or don't. ( )
  nicx27 | Jan 11, 2011 |
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Arthur Craythorne has barely married Queenie May when he is called away to fight in the First World War. When he returns from the trenches, he is a changed man and his wife and two young daughters, Alice and Florrie, strive hard to steer clear of his aggression and make him proud - Although Florrie follows Arthur into the Catholic Church, it is Alice he seems to favour, and Florrie seethes with envy of her sister as she watches them grow closer. But Arthur's attentions towards Alice prove darker than either of them can yet acknowledge - And when Arthur dies, the three women he leaves behind must each find ways to cope with all that remains unspoken between them.
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The darkly intimate story of a family in which the ties of love and hate, fear and jealousy, innocence and experience, have all become dangerously confused.

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