The Northern Clemency

by Philip Hensher | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780007272488 Global Overview for this book
Registered by miss-jo of Sydney, New South Wales Australia on 10/28/2008
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7 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by miss-jo from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Tuesday, October 28, 2008

'The Northern Clemency' is Philip Hensher's epic portrait of an entire era, a novel concerned with the lives of ordinary people and history on the move.

Set in Sheffield, it charts the relationship between two families: Malcolm and Katherine Glover and their three children; and their neighbours the Sellers family, newly arrived from London so that Bernie can pursue his job with the Electricity Board. The day the Sellers move in there is a crisis across the road: Malcolm Glover has left home, convinced his wife is having an affair. The consequences of this rupture will spread throughout the lives of both couples and their children, in particular 10-year-old Tim Glover, who never quite recovers from a moment of his mother's public cruelty and the amused taunting of 15-year-old Sandra Sellers, childhood crises that will come to a head twenty years later.In the background, England is changing: from a manufacturing and industrial based economy into a new world of shops, restaurants and service industries, a shift particularly marked in the North with the miners' strike of 1984, which has a dramatic impact on both families.

Inspired by the expansive scale and webs of relationships of the great nineteenth-century Russian novels, 'The Northern Clemency' shows Philip Hensher to be one of our greatest chroniclers of English life.

Journal Entry 2 by miss-jo from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Bought as part of the 2008 Booker Shortlist Challenge, kindly organised by the incomparable Fleebo. It's my annual dose of culture.

Intitial order (please feel free to swap and let me know):


Journal Entry 3 by miss-jo from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Another year of Booker books starts with a bang. I was hesitant about this book due to its sheer size; once I picked it up I read it in a day and a half so it must have been pretty compelling.

My biggest complaint was that it had too many characters and tried to be too involved with the interconnectedness of life, leading to several occasions where I had no clue at all if I had ever met the characters I was currently focussing on. At the same time, I wanted to know more about some of the seemingly important events that just faded into nothing (Why did the kid die? What did it mean to the others? What happened to his mum??)

So it wasn't the length that was the issue, it was the editing. It needed someone to ask the author why they included what they did. And why it didn't seem to end, just to fizzle. Worth a read, but prolly not a second read.

Journal Entry 4 by star-light from Melbourne CBD, Victoria Australia on Wednesday, November 12, 2008
This arrived today with a great big thump. Thanks, miss-jo. I noticed the packaged weighed in at 1.006 kg so no doubt you're happy not to be lugging it around anymore.

Journal Entry 5 by star-light from Melbourne CBD, Victoria Australia on Thursday, December 25, 2008
This was my second thick book in the 2008 Booker Challenge and my wrists are getting sore from holding them up! I'm pleased to say this one was a lot easier to read than I expected. I started out thinking all the characters were neurotic and not liking any of them. When I got futher into the book I realised they were just ordinary people going about their lives and I got quite drawn into their day-to-day dramas. What I found frustrating was the 'gaps' that were left when the narrative suddenly jumped 10 years or so into the future. Some of the sub-plots just fizzled out, and others appeared out of the blue.

I thought the miners' strike would have been more significant in the novel. However, Tim and Bernie were the only ones affected by the strike, and there was not much in the book about Bernie's involvement.

Thanks miss-jo for sharing this book. I'll send it on to the next reader once I have the mailing address.

Journal Entry 6 by star-light from Melbourne CBD, Victoria Australia on Monday, December 29, 2008
tqd is swamped with books and asked to be skipped for the time being, so this book is now making its way to jubby.

Journal Entry 7 by jubby from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Sunday, January 04, 2009
Wow! Get a load of the size of this book. Not that size matters...

I received this in the post today along with a lovely bookmark. Thank you (You've a great name too).

And Miss-jo I've got a bookring for you too.

Journal Entry 8 by jubby at Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Saturday, April 11, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (4/11/2009 UTC) at Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases




I deeply enjoyed what I read of this book, unfortunately I just didn't have the time or energy to read all of this book.
So, I will borrow it from the local library one day, and find out how it ends...

Passed onto Goodthinkingmax, along with a couple of other Booker shorties.

Journal Entry 9 by goodthinkingmax from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Saturday, April 11, 2009
Received from Jubby at the local pub. Much wiser to spend money on beers than postage I say! Jubby passed on three of the 2008 Booker titles and I am due to receive three more later this week. Eek.

Journal Entry 10 by goodthinkingmax from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Monday, April 13, 2009
I decided to tackle the thick book first and to my surprise I've finished it already. Perfect reading when the rain is bucketing down. This was a fairly easy read and quite engaging. The characters had a lot of depth (as they should, given it's over 700 pages) and I was particularly intrigued by the progress of the characters followed from childhood. Other characters like Nick and Andrew were written out somewhat suddenly and their fates were unsatisfying and felt incomplete. I am not familiar with the English settings or the politics of the time beyond the headlines so guiltily I confess it was the soap-operatic, escapist nature of this book that sucked me in. I agree with Miss-Jo about the fizzling conclusion. I think I may have stuck my tongue out when Daniel was reading the book. It almost seems like the author had to wrap it up suddenly and chose a couple of random characters to end with but I'm sure there were much more worthy intentions.

I will attempt to pass this to fleebo or tqd at the Sydney meetup. I'm sure they'll be amenable when I lug in such a heavy volume :-)

Journal Entry 11 by Fleebo on Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Received from goodthinkingmax. Thanks!

Journal Entry 12 by Fleebo on Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Oh my. I didn't realise that I have had this book for so long. It is just so huge that I haven't been able to bring myself to start it. I keep reading other, smaller books.
I swear that if I don't begin reading it this long weekend, then I will pass it on.

Journal Entry 13 by Fleebo on Tuesday, October 13, 2009
On the way to FreePages.

Journal Entry 14 by FreePages from Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Northern Clemency has arrived in Canberra.

I can understand anyone being put off by the shear size of this book!

I've got a few other big books from bookrings in the TBR queue at the moment, so I'm hoping to build up my stamina before tackling this one.

Thanks Fleebo for the lovely B &W postcard!

Wish me luck with this book ;-)

Pages 738.

Journal Entry 15 by FreePages from Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Monday, December 28, 2009

I started this before Christmas it was quite good for around this time of year. An effortless read even for such a large book. Nothing much was left to the imagination, everything was well described and the characters and their interactions with each other seemed well fleshed out. I was surprised that the story eventually travelled with one of the characters from Sheffield to Sydney.
I think the 70s, 80s and 90s were well depicted. I quite liked hearing on occasions what the character's were reading. I remember reading The Far Pavilions back in the 80s as was one of the characters.
An interesting and not a taxing read, quite a surprise for a large book.

I'm PM Sujie and see if she is ready for this book.

Journal Entry 16 by FreePages at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Released 10 yrs ago (1/6/2010 UTC) at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia



Putting this in the post at ANU.

My tip: Don't be put off by the size, it's an easier read then many shorter books.


Journal Entry 17 by Sujie from Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales Australia on Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Arrived today thanks FreePages. First couple of pages read like Joanna Trollope so I'm not too frightened by the size, though I do gravitate to slender, sparse novels that leave lots to the imagination, FP!
Thanks for lovely p.c. I have always loved the stained glass windows by Leonard French in Melbourne but strangely can't remember the ones at the National Library....must look properly next time I'm there.
Still in another book but will get to this one by this weekend.

Journal Entry 18 by Sujie from Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales Australia on Friday, February 12, 2010
Thoroughly agree with all of you re the need for editing (the first day in Australia for Alex/Sandra is an example - Clive James did it so much more succintly in "Unreliable Memoirs") and the jumpiness of some of the sub-plots. I think the boy Andrew's death was just to underline the development of Tim's sad weirdness; he was quite a well-drawn example of Aspergers. I too was irritated by the post-modern cuteness of Daniel's self-referential book. A particular irritation was Henschler's insistence on referring to Jane's flatmate as 'the Australian' - was this a satiric device about the uneasy snobbery and inverted snobbery that exists between Us and Them? Thank god he eventually became Scott...
Having said that there were passages that really moved me, particularly Malcolm's going through the photo albums with his wife Katherine after the torrid court case and Francis reading Sherlock Holmes to his comatose mother and ones in which I could see my own life reflected. Sometimes the lack of resolution - you never found out if she did hear him, perhaps it was just hinted at - seemed too much like real life.
I haven't heard of Henschler before and I'll look out for some other titles, hoping for something on the thinner side!
I'll be very interested to hear what you have to say, livrecache. PMing you for address.

Journal Entry 19 by Sujie from Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales Australia on Saturday, February 20, 2010
Well, I'll probably never hear what livrecache has to say! She has passed on this as she's in the middle of moving interstate and miss-jo has kindly given me the go-ahead to release this at my local OBCZ, JingJo's. I'll do that tomorrow.
Thanks for organising the ring, miss-jo.

Journal Entry 20 by Sujie at Jing Jo OBCZ in Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales Australia on Sunday, February 21, 2010

Released 10 yrs ago (2/21/2010 UTC) at Jing Jo OBCZ in Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales Australia



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