SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2011
Young Jaffy Brown never expects to escape the slums of Victorian London. Then, aged eight, a chance encounter with Mr Jamrach changes Jaffy’s stars. And before he knows it, he finds himself at the docks waving goodbye to his beloved Ishbel and boarding a ship bound for the Indian Ocean. With his friend Tim at his side, Jaffy’s journey will push faith, love and friendship to their utmost limits.
An imaginative tour-de-force encompassing the sights and smells of 19th-century London and the wild sea... Gripping, superbly written and a delight. * Times * Riveting. Birch is masterful at evoking period and place ... A teeming exhibition of the beautiful and the bizarre. * Sunday Times * A captivating yarn of high seas and even higher drama. * Guardian * Magical ... A sustained feat of imagination and diligent research. * Daily Mail * One of the best stories I've ever read ... A completely original book. -- A. S. Byatt Carol Birch's fiction continues to stretch bodies and minds to breaking point ... marvelous and terrifying. * Sunday Times * Never mind not being able to put it down-there is a 100-page section in Jamrach's Menagerie in which you will not be able to breathe. Rarely have I read a book that so deftly marries high literary value with unbearable suspense. -- Robert Hough, author of THE FINAL CONFESSION OF MABEL STARK Sucks you into a world of the senses, from the filthy streets of Victorian London to the rolling hills of the South Seas. Jaffy Brown, the gifted narrator at the center of this mythic tale, rivals David Copperfield and Ishmael of Moby-Dick with his gift for storytelling. His 'rare old time' becomes, in due course, a fable of friendship, and a tribute to human survival. What a beautifully written and engaging novel! -- Jay Parini, author of THE LAST STATION Birch is a naturally literary writer who can, with a simple image, evoke the deepest emotion. * Guardian * Whenever I read of people moaning on about the dire state of British fiction, I think of Carol Birch (and people like her) who are writing such good novels ... her forte is feelings , about which she is so acute. * Margaret Forster * An epic tale of seafaring, friendship and danger. * London Review of Books * Put Moby Dick, Treasure Island and The Rime of The Ancient Mariner into a pot, add a pinch of Dickens, and you will get the flavour of Carol Birch's hugely entertaining novel. * Scottish Mail on Sunday * Everything you could want in a rousing adventure is here: a plucky hero, wild animals, salty sailors, whaling, a perfect storm, dragons, cannibalism - and it culminates in a satisfyingly redemptive ending... a remarkable acheivement, full of poetry and poignancy, adrenalin and anguish... i know i'll be spreading the word. -- Lee Randall * Scotsman * A spellbinding adventure on the high seas and a great salty historic epic. * Lythan St Annes Express * The final, elegiac section of Jamrach's Menagerie lifts the narrator's voice, enabling Jaffy to reach another level in his understanding, just as it permits Birch the freedom to set her beautiful, eloquent prose to a new emotional register, at once wistful, wanting and ultimately satisfyingly serene. * Times Literary Supplement * A teeming exhibition of the beautiful and the bizarre, and its erious ideas about the relationship between mankind and the natural world are communicated with such delicacy of thouch that they never slow down the propulsive telling of the story or dim the brilliance of the prose. * Sunday Times, Culture * An exuberant tale of seafaring, exotic fauna and drunken shore leave ... Jamrach's Menagerie puts its characters through the mangler and invites us to inspect the damage ... the classiest penny dreadful in the history of literature ... [Birch's] words sing on the page. * Financial Times * A fearless storyteller of rare and sparkling originality. * Metro * As good as anything Peter Carey has done in this line and, in certain exalted moments, even better. -- DJ Taylor * Independent * Following a young boy's adventures from a pungently evoked 19th-century Wapping to seafaring calamity in the South Pacific, Birch's Booker-shortlisted novel is lush, poignant and beguilingly strange * Sunday Telegraph * A gripping, gruelling seafaring tale of rivalries and friendships forged in adversity. * Daily Telegraph * A dark yarn of high seas and low deeds. * Sunday Herald * Quite wonderful... Birch's powers of evocation really bring life to the sights, sounds and smells of Jaffy's adventures. * The Crack * A wild, wondrous tale that deftly melds high-seas action with high drama. * Time Out * Utterly mesmerising. * Good Book Guide * This is a book of wonder and wonders, great beauty and horror ... this is a book about how we make sense of life and the hands it deals us * The Lady *
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