Various Pets Alive and Dead

Marina Lewycka

Various Pets Alive and Dead

Marcus and Doro were part of a commune from the late 1960s until the early 1990s: lentils, free love, spliffs, radical politics, cheesecloth blouses, sex, housework and cooking rotas, crochet, allotments. Their children have grown up rather different from them: primary schoolteacher Clara craves order and clean bathrooms, son Serge is pretending to his parents that he is still doing a Maths PhD at Cambridge, while in fact working making loadsa money in the City; while third child Oolie Anna, who has Downs Syndrome, is desperate to escape home and live on her own. Once the truth starts breaking through, who knows what further secrets will be revealed about any of them? 3.5 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
Various Pets Alive and Dead

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 384
RRP £20.00
Date of Publication March 2012
ISBN 978-1905490554
Publisher Fig Tree
 

Marcus and Doro were part of a commune from the late 1960s until the early 1990s: lentils, free love, spliffs, radical politics, cheesecloth blouses, sex, housework and cooking rotas, crochet, allotments. Their children have grown up rather different from them: primary schoolteacher Clara craves order and clean bathrooms, son Serge is pretending to his parents that he is still doing a Maths PhD at Cambridge, while in fact working making loadsa money in the City; while third child Oolie Anna, who has Downs Syndrome, is desperate to escape home and live on her own. Once the truth starts breaking through, who knows what further secrets will be revealed about any of them?

We Are All Made of Glue by Marina Lewycka

Reviews

The Independent

Bill Greenwell

Her most striking quality is empathy. She loves her characters; in the colossal cast, there are really only two villains. Doro is not unlike Georgie in We are All Made of Glue: eccentric and self-knowing but also accessible. As a writer, Lewycka is somewhere between Hilary Mantel in her satirical mode, and Sue Townsend. Like both, she is riotously entertaining.

09/03/2012

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The Daily Express

Vanessa Berridge

This is at heart a moral fable and although the characters are a little emblematic they are depicted with warmth and a degree of believability and this inventive and witty book fizzes along from beginning to end.

11/03/2012

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The Economist

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This quartet takes the story from present to past and back again in a series of sparklingly humorous vignettes. The clever bit is that while whooshing the reader along on a tide of wit, the author also neatly explores the morals and values of different generations and the impact that these have on family dynamics. Never has reading about something serious been quite so much fun.

10/03/2012

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The Independent

Leyla Sanai

Lewycka is not only witty but astute. Regarding the ideals of the Sixties, she shows how the practice wasn't as easy as the theory: for all their rejection of monogamy, there was fierce competition between the commune women, while beatific sharing was quickly superseded by resentment at those individuals who took more than they contributed ... a charming, beautifully observed novel, and those who label Lewycka a merely whimsical or quirky comic writer woefully underestimate her abilities.

30/03/2012

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The Guardian

Sarfraz Manzoor

Lewycka is a warm and humane writer whose previous novels have found unexpected humour in old age and the plight of European migrants. Here she pokes gentle fun at the naïve idealists who created the commune, and the children who find them mortifying. As the novel progresses we see that below the humour runs a current of sadness and anger.

01/03/2012

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The Daily Mail

Helen Brown

Lewycka treats her characters with real affection and combines the big themes and acutely-observed details with characteristic lightness of touch.

24/02/2012

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The New Statesman

Amanda Craig

To be first-rate, a comic novel needs the precision that P G Wodehouse brought to his plots. This zips chattily along at such a rate that its potential to be a state-of-the-nation novel isn't fulfilled. That said, Lewycka's fiction is unlike anything else around at present. The warmth of its tone, its zest, its blend of quirky, humane comedy and intellectual seriousness make this a novel to treasure.

27/02/2012

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The Sunday Times

Lucy Atkins

There is nothing wrong with wanting your readers to laugh? This is a light look at intergenerational values, greed, financial meltdown and family quirks. It is not supposed to upset us. And perhaps this is the key to Lewycka’s appeal: nothing ever gets too dreadful or out of control.

26/02/2012

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The Financial Times

Sam Leith

Lewycka is a writer of great warmth and considerable comic and observational gifts ... She’s not always at full stretch here, though: the story sprawls and in places she seems to strain for effect.

09/03/2012

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The Observer

Eleanor Birne

Lewycka is a great humourist who made her name writing comic novels about immigrants to Britain: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and Two Caravans include strong characters who express themselves in entertaining hybrid English. Here, though, her characters – including Doro's adopted daughter Oolie, who has Down's syndrome – sometimes teeter towards caricature.

11/03/2012

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Scotland on Sunday

Mary Crockett

The shame is that Various Pets Alive and Dead doesn’t confine itself to Serge’s misadventures in Crashland – a bitingly wacky critique on the banking crisis. But Lewycka gives us two more sober family narratives in parallel, one from Clara, one from Doro, ostensibly filling out Serge’s backstory while telling their own. Their tones – despite some entertaining set pieces – are in marked contrast to Serge’s City misadventures.

10/03/2012

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