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Wish You Were Here (Anglais) Broché – 1 mars 2012

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-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Relié.

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There is no end to madness, Jack thinks, once it takes hold. Hadn’t those experts said it could take years before it flared up in human beings? So, it had flared up now in him and Ellie.

Sixty-­five head of healthy-­seeming cattle that finally succumbed to the rushed-­through culling order, leaving a silence and emptiness as hollow as the morning Mum died, and the small angry wisp of a thought floating in it: Well, they’d better be right, those experts, it had better damn well flare up some day or this will have been a whole load of grief for nothing.

So then.

Healthy cattle. Sound of limb and udder and hoof—­and mind. “Not one of them mad as far as I ever saw,” Dad had said, as if it was the start of one of his rare jokes and his face would crack into a smile to prove it. But his face had looked like simply cracking anyway and staying cracked, and the words he might have said, by way of a punchline, never left his lips, though Jack thinks now that he heard them. Or it was his own silent joke to himself. Or it’s the joke he’s only arrived at now: “We must be the mad ones.”

And if ever there was a time when Jack’s dad might have put his two arms round his two sons, that was it. His arms were certainly long enough, even for his sons’ big shoulders—­both brothers out of the same large Luxton mould, though with all of eight years between them. Tom would have been fifteen then, but growing fast. And Jack, though it was a fact he sometimes wished to hide, even to reverse, already had a clear inch over his father.

The three of them had stood there, like the only life left, in the yard at Jebb Farm.

But Michael Luxton hadn’t put his arms round his two sons. He’d done what he’d begun to do, occasionally, only after his wife’s death. He’d looked hard at his feet, at the ground he was standing on, and spat.

And Jack, who long ago took his last look at that yard, looks now from an upstairs window at a grey sea, at a sky full of wind-­driven rain, but sees for a moment only smoke and fire.

Sixty-­five head of cattle. Or, to reckon it another way (and never mind the promised compensation): ruin. Ruin, at some point in the not-­so-­distant future, the ruin that had been creeping up on them anyway since Vera Luxton had died.

Cattle going mad all over England. Or being shoved by the hundred into incinerators for the fear and the risk of it. Who would have imagined it? Who would have dreamed it? But cattle aren’t people, that’s a fact. And when trouble comes your way, at least you might think, though it’s small comfort and precious little help: Well, we’ve had our turn now, our share.

But years later, right here in this seaside cottage, Jack had switched on the TV and said, “Ellie, come and look at this. Come and look, quick.” It was the big pyre at Roak Moor, back in Devon. Thousands of stacked-­up cattle, thousands more lying rotting in fields. The thing was burning day and night. The smoke would surely have been visible, over the far hills, from Jebb. Not to mention the smell being carried on the wind. And someone on the TV—­another of those experts—­was saying that burning these cattle might still release into the air significant amounts of the undetected agent of BSE. Though it was ten years on, and this time the burnings were for foot-­and-­mouth. Which people weren’t known to get. Yet.

“Well, Jack,” Ellie had said, stroking the back of his neck, “did we make a good move? Or did we make a good move?”

But he’d needed to resist the strange, opposite feeling: that he should have been there, back at Jebb, in the thick of it; it was his proper place.

BSE, then foot-­and-­mouth. What would have been the odds? Those TV pictures had looked like scenes from hell. Flames leaping up into the night. Even so, cattle aren’t people. Just a few months later Jack had turned on the telly once again and called to Ellie to come and look, as people must have been calling out, all over the world, to whoever was in the next room, “Drop what you’re doing and come and look at this.”

More smoke. Not over familiar, remembered hills, and even on the far side of the world. Though Jack’s first thought—­or perhaps his second—­had been the somehow entirely necessary and appropriate one: Well, we should be all right here. Here at the bottom of the Isle of Wight. And while the TV had seemed to struggle with its own confusion and repeated again and again, as if they might not be true, the same astonishing sequences, he’d stepped outside to look down at the site, as if half expecting everything to have vanished.

Thirty-­two white units. All still there. And among them, on the grass, a few idle and perhaps still-­ignorant human sprinkles. But inside each caravan was a television, and some of them must be switched on. The word must be spreading. In the Ship, in the Sands Cafe, it must be spreading. It was early September—­late season—­but the middle of a beautiful, clear, Indian-­summer day, the sea a smooth, smiling blue. Until now at least, they would all have been congratulating themselves on having picked a perfect week.

He’d felt a surge of helpless responsibility, of protectiveness. He was in charge. What should he do—­go down and calm them? In case they were panicking. Tell them it was all right? Tell them it was all right just to carry on their holidays, that was what they’d come for and had paid for and they shouldn’t let this spoil things, they should carry on enjoying themselves.

But his next thought—­though perhaps it had really been his first and he’d pushed it aside, and it was less a thought maybe than a cold, clammy premonition—­was: what might this mean for Tom?

He looks now at that same view from the bedroom window of Lookout Cottage, though the weather’s neither sunny nor calm. Clouds are charging over Holn Head. A November gale is careering up the Channel. The sea, white flecks in its greyness, seems to be travelling in a body from right to left, west to east, as if some retreat is going on. Rain stings the glass in front of him.

Ellie has been gone for over an hour—­this weather yet to unleash itself when she left. She could be sitting out the storm somewhere, pulled up in the wind-­rocked Cherokee. Reconsidering her options, perhaps. Or she could have done already exactly what she said she’d do, and be returning, having to take it slowly, headlights on in the blinding rain. Or returning—­who knows?—­behind a police car, with not just its headlights on, but its blue light flashing.

Reconsidering her options? But she made the move and said the words. The situation is plain to him now, and despite the blurring wind and rain, Jack’s mind is really quite clear. She had her own set of keys, of course. All she had to do was grab her handbag and walk out the door, but she might have remembered another set of keys that Jack certainly hasn’t forgotten. Has it occurred to her, even now? Ellie who was usually the one who thought things through, and him the slowcoach.

“Ellie,” Jack thinks. “My Ellie.”

He’s already taken the shotgun from the cabinet downstairs—­the keys are in the lock—­and brought it up here. It’s lying, loaded, on the bed behind him, on the white duvet. For good measure he has a box of twenty-­five cartridges (some already in his pocket), in case of police cars, in case of mishaps. It’s the first time, Jack thinks, that he’s ever put a gun on a bed, let alone theirs, and that, by itself, has to mean something. As he peers through the window he can feel the weight of the gun behind him, making a dent in the duvet as if it might be some small, sleeping body.

Well, one way or another, they’d never gone down the road of children. There isn’t, now, that complication. He’s definitely the last of the Luxtons. There’s only one final complication—­it involves Ellie—­and he’s thought that through too, seriously and carefully.

Which is why he’s up here, at this rain-­lashed window, from where he has the best view of the narrow, twisting road, Beacon Hill, which has no other purpose these days than to lead to this cottage. So he’ll be alerted. So he’ll be able to see, just a little sooner than from downstairs, the dark-­blue roof, above the high bank, then the nose of the Cherokee as it takes the first, tight, ascending bend, past the old chapel. The Cherokee that’s done so much hard journeying in these last three days.

The road below him, running with water, seems to slither.

Of course, she might not return at all. Another option, and one she might be seriously contemplating. Though where the hell else does she have to go to?

It’s all gone mad, Jack thinks, but part of him has never felt saner. Rain blurs the window, but he looks through it at the rows of buffeted caravans in the middle distance to the right, beyond the spur of land that slopes down beneath him to the low mass of the Head. All empty now, of course, for the winter.

“Well, at least this has happened in the off season.”

Ellie’s words, and just for a shameful instant it had been his own secret flicker of a thought as well.

He looks at the caravans and even now feels their tug, like the tug of the wind on their own thin, juddering frames. Thirty-­two trembling units. To the left, the locked site office, the laundrette, the empty shop—­grille down, window boarded. The gated entrance-­way off the Sands End road, the sign above it swinging.

Even now, especially no... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .

Revue de presse

“Exquisite . . . Jamesian in sensibility and to some degree in style, [Swift] finds tragedy in the most ordinary conversation. . . . . You forget how piercing this sort of thing can be until you see Swift doing it so well, and with such patience. The depth of field in a Swift novel, thematically and emotionally, is vast. At his best, he suggests that looking intently at the smallest, most mundane thing can yield a glimpse into the meaning of life. . . . Beautifully made . . . [an] abundance of subtlety, tenderness and fluid prose.”
 —Stacey D’Erasmo, The New York Times Book Review
“An extraordinary novel, the work of an artist with profound insight into human nature and the mature talent to deliver it. . . . As every truly great novelist does, in this new book, [Swift] demonstrates that perfect coordination between style and story. . . . [A] honed and driven story. Honestly, I can’t remember when I cared so passionately about how a novel might end.”
 —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Vivid, emotionally raw . . . Swift is a writer who clearly revels in dialogue and nuance, and in Jack he has crafted a marvelously rich character whose quiet, outwardly closed-off nature belies profound internal turmoil. . . . Thoughtful and sensitive.”
—Michael Patrick Brady, The Boston Globe

“Powerful . . . This perfectly titled novel is about longing for the people in our lives who have died . . . Like Swift’s Waterland, this book explores the ways the past haunts us, and, like his Booker Prize–winning Last Orders, it uses a death as a provocation for the examination of self and country . . . Recommended for fans of Ian McEwan, Michael Ondaatje, and Kazuo Ishiguro.”
—Evelyn Beck, Library Journal
“Part ghost story, part whodunit, part tour d’horizon of a nation that seems to have lost faith in tradition and history, it is also a deeply human tale about a man driven to the edge. Praise be for a serious novel that dares to look current affairs in the face.”
—Paul Dunn, The Times (London)
“A subtly powerful novel . . . Booker Prize winner Swift is masterful in his penetrating evocation of the land Jack loves, the many languages a body can speak, and the cavernous unknown concealed beneath apparent intimacy. Brilliantly illuminating the wounded psyches of his characters, circling back to corral the secrets of the past while finding the timeless core within present conflicts, and consummately infusing this gorgeously empathic tale with breath-holding suspense, Swift tests ancient convictions about birthright, nature, love, heroism, war, death, and the covenant of grief. Readers enthralled by Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan will queue up for Swift’s virtuoso novel.”
—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred)
“A novel as contemporary as international terrorism and the war in Iraq and as timeless as mortality, from one of Britain’s literary masters. ‘The past is past, and the dead are the dead,’ was the belief of the strong-willed Ellie, whose husband, Jack, a stolid former farmer, is the protagonist of Swift’s ninth and most powerful novel. As anyone will recognize who is familiar with his prize-winning masterworks, such a perspective on the past is in serious need of correction, which this novel provides in a subtly virtuosic and surprisingly suspenseful manner. It’s a sign of Swift’s literary alchemy that he gleans so much emotional and thematic richness from such deceptively common stock . . . Profound empathy and understated eloquence mark a novel so artfully nuanced that the last few pages send the reader back to the first few, with fresh understanding.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Reviews from the UK:

“Like its predecessors, most notably Waterland and Last Orders, Wish You Were Here is a book of quiet emotional integrity . . . The novel expertly explores the poignant contrast between irrepressible human hope and the constraints within which we live our finite lives.”
The Times
“An extraordinary novel . . . Novelists, being on the whole brainy people, like to write about brainy people, or make their characters better with words than they would be in real life . . . But as Swift’s novels so brilliantly prove, just because someone doesn’t have a way with words doesn’t mean they can’t experience deep emotion, or be powerfully moved by the forces of history and time . . . I doubt there is a better novelist than Swift for this kind of story.”
Evening Standard
“Like Ian McEwan’s Saturday, or Sebastian Faulks’s A Week in December, this novel draws on events from the news pages . . . But this emotionally complex novel is not mere reportage . . . It is Swift’s most intimately revelatory novel yet . . . This is a profound and powerful portrait of a nation and a man in crisis that, for all its gentle intensity, also manages to be an unputdownable read.”
Scotland on Sunday
Wish You Were Here is a work of wide, ambitious span . . . Recounted in pages of affecting, powerfully sober prose . . . What gives [the novel] a compelling hold is Swift’s real strength, the authenticity that hallmarks his portrayals of people in crisis.”
The Sunday Times
“An acutely observed, compelling read.”
Daily Mail
“Swift is as brilliant as ever on the potency of family myth . . . This novel is often astonishingly moving.”
Sunday Express
“I cannot tell you exactly how long after I finished this book that I sat, holding it, in stunned silence for—but it was light when I finished it and dark when I put it down. Some books can do that to you. This is one of them . . . Jack is a sort of Heathcliff type of character . . . Totally captivating . . . There’s such a beautiful tone to the writing and it’s so moving that I cannot imaging it failing to move anyone . . . Swift has already won one Man Booker prize—this deserves another nomination.”
The Bookbag 

“Swift’s best since Waterland . . . It begins to read like a thriller . . . Here Swift parcels out information like an Agatha Christie detective . . . The pace quickens and quickens. Almost against your will you find yourself racing through Swift’s brief chapters.”
  --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 368 pages
  • Editeur : Picador (1 mars 2012)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0330535846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330535847
  • Dimensions du produit: 13 x 1,6 x 19,7 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 28.760 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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Par Michele Martin le 20 janvier 2014
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Jack, ancien agriculteur reconverti dans le tourisme doit réceptionner seul la dépouille de Tom son jeune frère militaire tué en Irak et rapatrié par l'armée.
C'est l'occasion de se remémorer la tragédie de la maladie de la vache folle et de la mort du père. Le moment de s'interroger sur ce qu'on aurait du faire ou dire et quon n'a pas fait ou dit. Le moment pour les protaginistes de toucher le fond du désespoir et de parfois trouver une raison de continuer malgré les traumatismes..
Finalement très peu d'action mais beaucoup de sentiments complexes dévoilés petit à petit et le récit se termine avec un suspense émouvant.
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1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Brigitte le 22 janvier 2014
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Très belle lecture mais le thème ne s'adresse pas à ceux qui ont envie d'une lecture réjouissante et pleine de rebondissements.
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Amazon.com: 60 commentaires
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par David Keymer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
The book starts with a man sitting in his bedroom, a loaded shotgun by his side, waiting. It cycles back years to tell how he got there. His name is Jack. He's not a very articulate man so you might think he doesn't feel things. It's the beauty of this exceptional novel to show that he does -deeply. That's his burden.

Jack thought he had gotten beyond his traumatic past: the death of his mother, then the years of crushing work on the family dairy farm in Devon, then their herd having to be put down because of the threat of mad cow disease, the death of the family dog, his brother's running away at age 18 to join the army (but really to get away from the farm and his father); his father's suicide by the side of the old oak tree. Ellie's father dies soon after Jack's. Now they can marry, no longer in thrall to demanding fathers. Ellie persuades Jack to sell the farm -she has inherited a caravan (house trailer) park on the Isle of Wight-- and use the money to leave Devon and move to the coast. That's 1998.

For the next eight years, Ellie and Jack run a successful caravan park. Jack's happy and so is Ellie. Jack seems a new man. They even vacation a few weeks every year in far off St. Lucia. Then in 2006 comes a dreadful bit of news. A letter -delivered to the wrong address and now long overdue- finally reaches Jack. He calls to confirm he's received it. "I'm Jack Luxton," he says on the phone and soon he's receiving a visit from sympathetic Major Richards, whose job it is to break the news to the families of dead soldiers. Tom, his baby brother Tom who he'd always hoped would return to him some day, is dead, blown up by an IED in Basra, Iraq.

Inside Jack is the memory of a chain of blows taken but not dealt with. Tom's death cracks open the doors to despair. Jack, who has never been able to verbalize these things, is overwhelmed by guilt for the things he didn't say or do, the words that might have averted disaster. Why hadn't he wished Tom "good luck" before he slipped off in the middle of the night to escape the farm and his father? Why didn't he offer to buy his father a beer the morning he committed suicide? How could he have sold off the family estate and left a farm and house that had been in the family for generations?

And so to Jack in his bedsitting room. "Death, Jack thought ... was in many ways a great place of shelter. It was life and all its knowledge that was insupportable."

Wish You Were Here isn't for the impatient reader. You'll find no early clues in it as to how it will unfold. It starts and continues slow and there are apparent side paths en route that may seem digressions but ultimately everything that happens in this exceptional novel helps to flesh out the portrait of an ordinary man who can't go on living unless he can get beyond his past. Graham Swift does what truly good novelists should do: he treats his characters with the love and respect they deserve.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Beautiful and riveting 30 mars 2012
Par P. B. Sharp - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
Author Swift makes you care about ordinary people. He has the extraordinary gift of submerging you into other peoples' lives where you are trapped almost as though you were under water. And like underwater sounds the emotions of the people you are trapped with are muted, lost in the ocean vastness of the human experience. You care, even agonize, but you cannot escape until the end of the book, and maybe you'll think about the characters after you put the book down. Swift has you hooked.

In a series of vignettes and flashbacks, the intimate lives of the characters is spread before you. This is not a quick read, nor is it an exciting one but it will stay with you. Ordinary things like a shotgun, a Cherokee Jeep, a suit of clothes, a war medal, an old oak tree, become icons for the reader to grasp.

When the novel opens,it is a stormy, rainy November day on the Isle of Wight where Jack Luxton and his wife Ellie run a trailer park. Ellie, her emotions as stormy as the weather, has screamed away in their Jeep, after she and Jack, a result of years of bottled up emotions, have quarreled violently. In their house -Lookout House- Jack awaits the return of his wife, a loaded shotgun beside him on the bed. The crucible of the plot was the death of Jack's much younger brother, Tom, in Iraq. That event triggers a maelstrom of emotions which up until then have been hidden and suppressed in the minds of both Jack and Ellie. They are both emotional time bombs.

The reader is privy to the thoughts of all the characters, so we know what Major Richards is thinking when he calls on the Luxtons to convey the condolences of the Army about Tom's death. We know what Jack is thinking, too. He had broken down and wept when receiving the letter announcing Tom's death, but although trembling, he faces the Major as calmly as he can. Ellie puts on a sad face but she does not grieve. Knowing what all the persons in the novel are thinking, including Tom on the battlefield, adds to the richness of the drama and helps to weave the strands of the plot together and the characters together.

The section in which Jack travels to the mainland and Gatwick Airport where the body of his brother, Tom, and two other service men will be honored by a military funeral is astounding. I don't think I have ever wept when reading any book, but the tears were rolling down my face. Jack meets his brother alone with Major Richards at his side, but not Ellie his wife who would not come. The drums sound, the bugle plays Reveille. Jack approaches Tom's coffin, draped in the Union Jack. He bends over and clutches the flag, unable to tear himself away for a minute or two.. He speaks to the two undertakers who will drive the hearse to Barnstable where Tom will be buried. And Swift tells you what the two undertakers are saying and thinking.

The novel is not linear, you are taken into the past then back to the present, sometimes quite abruptly, but you will not be confused. Swift is too clever a writer to allow his readers to get lost anywhere. He creates a microcosm of human suffering and joy and you may perhaps recognize yourself in one of the unforgettable characters. Highly recommended.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Extraordinary Details of Ordinary Life 26 mars 2012
Par K. L. Cotugno - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
With With You Were Here, Graham Swift returns to that which he does better than anyone else -- the contemplative novel that probes the innermost secrets of the past and how they affect the present and future. Jack Luxton's transition from running the Devonshire farm his family ran for over 400 years into a proprietor of a caravan holiday site on the Isle of Wight is neither simply explained or treated lightly. Hs inner growth has been shaped mostly by those around him who are now mostly gone. All remaining is his wife, Ellie, who has been with him his entire life.

Swift's extraordinary gift is to portray the inner lives of all the characters in this book, not just Jack and his family, but anyone who remotely comes in contact with the story, giving a full satisfying quality.it I have been reading him for over 20 years now, and know when I sit down with one of his boos, Swift will deliver. He is a patient writer and expects and extracts the same level of attention from his readers. This is definitely not for anyone looking for a quick read, but for someone looking for a book with more meat on its bones. The story is not linear -- but that is not to say it is confusing. The patient reader will be rewarded by paying strict attention to the detail, not be thrown by what appears to be a meandering timeline. By the end, it all comes together in a satisfying whole.
17 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Swift Descent 28 mars 2012
Par Daniel Myers - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I'm going to catch it from Swift admirers here, but so be it. I'm truthfully recounting my experience of reading the book. The irony of it is that I AM a great admirer of Swift, especially of Waterland, which yet remains, to my mind, the single greatest Post-WWII single volume work of fiction that England has produced. Swift has become a literary icon in the UK. His works are on every school syllabus. He can be assured that anything he writes will be published and that it will receive head-over-heels glowing reviews - if the reviewers want to retain their jobs. I'm not so sure that this is such a great place for a writer to find himself, and Wish You Were Here bears this out.

Swift has come to specialise in laconic characters in whom deep currents run. He pulls off this sort of thing astoundingly well in a recent novel, The Light of Day, which I would heartily urge to anyone over this book. This particular book's laconic protagonist is Jack Luxton, who comes of age in Devon farmland during the twin catastrophes of Mad Cow Disease and Foot-and-Mouth disease. He marries Ellie, his childhood sweetheart, after both their fathers die - Jack's father shoots himself, leaving a hole in a centuries old oak - to which I'll return. With the money Jack accrues through the selling of the land the Luxtons have held for time immemorial and Ellie's inheritance, they set themselves up as owners of a caravan park - Americans read "trailer" or "RV" park - on the Isle of Wight. Thus, the setting.

In a recent interview in The Guardian, Swift has said that an image came into his head of a man sitting on his bed next to a loaded shotgun and that this book was the result of writing a story explaining how such a situation could come about. I'm not giving anything away; the shotgun scene comprises the first chapter. The problem for me is in this story.

Despite the adjectives of "subdued" and its various synonyms used to describe the book, entirely appropriate for the characters herein, the imagery and symbolism are actually quite over the top and don't click the way they do in most of Swift's previous novels. Further, the characters, to a one, were entirely predictable to me and came across as set pieces to whom, though I tried, I couldn't relate at all as human beings. They simply didn't pull me into the world Swift tries to create here and thus the book became - something I never thought I'd find myself saying about a Swift creation, more than a bit of a slog for me.

The reason for this is that Swift has so many "messages" in this book which he makes all too overt: Are mad cows really that different from mad humans? How long before a similar virus hits the human species and we start culling those infected or likely to be infected? How can we know what a cow feels, a dog feels, a subdued man feels? What does "repatriation" really mean? etc. etc.

Back to the oak tree and the hole in it, through which Jack and Ellie, before they were married, poked their fingers in and out of, as do the children of the upmarket Londoners who have bought the land and set it up as a Summer residence, and which - a touch obscenely - graces the cover of the book: Sex and death, anyone?

It's all just too garish and obvious. I wish it were not.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A novel of tragic power and fierce grace 11 mai 2012
Par Evie Getchell - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
There was a war going on, a war on terror, and Jack Luxton, the big and brawny but quiet and reserved Farmer Jack Luxton, knew that terror intimately, in every ounce of his being... "knew that terror was a thing you felt inside, so what could a war on terror be, in the end, but a war against yourself?"

"Wish you were here," those common, uninventive words which have been unoriginally filling the back of so many postcards for as long as postcards have ever been sent, are so much more than the title of this dark, agonizing novel by Graham Swift. They are an expression of urgency and immediacy...words of love and a man's wanting it desperately.

Jack, a former Devon dairy farmer, and his childhood-sweetheart wife Ellie are owners of a holiday caravan park on the Isle of Wight and the novel opens with the couple in crisis - Ellie in panic, quailing in her car in a lay-by near their home during a torrential storm and Jack in the grip of madness, sitting on his bed with a loaded shotgun, waiting for Ellie to return.

There is a war going on, a war on terror, a war on mad cows and hoof-and-mouth disease...and a war inside Jack's heart. Jack has been only recently notified by the military that his younger soldier brother Tom, a brother he has not seen or heard from in years, has been killed in combat in Basra, Iraq. Jack, Tom's sole surviving relative, must receive Tom's remains when the body is repatriated to England and arrange the funeral and burial of his only brother, a brother he loves more like a son.

Wish You Were Here is a torpid story thick with drama and pathos. With pacing heavy, deliberate and slow, Swift explores some of the darkest recesses of the human heart and mind. Multiple points-of-view from characters whose lives are interwoven in the fabric of circumstance - the farming community's troubles from mad cow and hoof and mouth diseases, the vanishing way of life in rural England, the war in the Middle East - create a complex narrative of personal interior perspectives. It is an arresting technique grounded in real life detail that provides a dramatic tension that pierces and rivets with an ever-intensifying sense of tragedy.

Swift's characters are presented in all their goodness and all their flaws, in all their strengths and all their vulnerabilities. He mines persistently and profoundly the complex, conflicting emotions kept deeply guarded within each, revealing them with an unsentimental sympathy. Their pain, their grief, their feelings of loss, and their sense of abandonment are all exposed like raw nerves.

Swift writes with a deceptive simplicity. His language needs no adornment. His prose is reserved yet intimate and framed within human emotions. Wish You Were Here is a novel of tragic power and fierce grace that explores the complexities and limitations of love and navigates the nightmare calamity between human hope and modern madness. It is one of the most powerful and relevant novels I have read this year.
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