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The Northern Clemency
PHILIP HENSHER

The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher
36 reviews (2008) (512p)
Man Booker Prize Finalist
Amazon.com Best Books

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Book Description
The award-winning author of The Mulberry Empire brings us a sweeping chronicle of ordinary lives profoundly shaped by both the subtleties of everyday experience and the larger forces of history.

In 1974, the Sellers family is transplanted from London to Sheffield in northern England. On the day they move in, the Glover household across the street is in upheaval: convinced that his wife is having an affair, Malcolm Glover has suddenly disappeared. The reverberations of this rupture will echo through the years to come as the connection between the families deepens. But it will be the particular crises of ten-year-old Tim Glover—set off by two seemingly inconsequential but ultimately indelible acts of cruelty—that will erupt, full-blown, two decades later.

These lives unfold against the vividly rendered backdrop of twentieth-century England at the dawn of the Thatcher era: prosperity for some and disenfranchisement for others, which will have a drastic impact on both families.

Expansive and deeply felt, The Northern Clemency shows Philip Hensher to be one of our most masterly chroniclers of modern English life, and a storyteller of virtuosic gifts.


Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, November 2008: The Northern Clemency begins at the perimeter of a late-summer party, amidst a din of neighbors gossiping one moment and navigating awkward silences the next. But once you encounter the Glover family--in particular, their languidly handsome teenage son Daniel--there's no turning back. The story that follows calls to mind novels by some of our best-loved family chroniclers--John Updike and Jonathan Franzen, to be sure, as well as Ian McEwan and Anne Tyler--and Hensher wrestles with the familiar notions of love and fidelity in ways that are appreciably unpredictable. His characters observe themselves and the ones closest to them in earnest, revealing facts and fallacies of their ordinary lives that make them extraordinarily real people to the reader. Hensher's style (which earned him a spot on the Man Booker Prize shortlist) is among the many qualities that make this novel shine. It's wonderfully paced with language so beautiful and brutally honest that you'll find it hard not to start furiously underlining passages, particularly those about the city of Sheffield, whose families witness "the last phase of its industrial greatness" in 1974 and begin to experience the intensifying class wars that ensue. Though finely tuned to this point in time, and the following two decades, The Northern Clemency rings with the universal truth that family makes no sense, and yet makes all the sense in the world. --Anne Bartholomew


Philip Hensher Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 1  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 1  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 1 The Northern Clemency ·  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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