The Clothes On Their Backs: A Novel (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Nov 25, 2008 - Fiction - 304 pages
27 Reviews
Orange Prize winner and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008, Linda Grant has created an enchanting portrait of a woman who, having endured unbearable loss, finds solace in the family secrets her estranged uncle reveals. In vivid and supple prose, Grant subtly constructs a powerful story of family, love, and the hold the past has on the present.

Vivien Kovacs, a sensitive, bookish girl grows up sealed off from the world by her timid Hungarian refugee parents, who conceal the details of their history and shy away from any encounter with the outside world. She learns how to navigate British society from an eccentric cast of neighbors -- including a fading ballerina, a cartoonist, and a sad woman who wanders the city and teaches Vivien to be beautiful. She loses herself in books and reinvents herself according to her favorite characters, but it is through clothes that she ultimately defines herself.

Against her father's wishes, she forges a relationship with her uncle, a notorious criminal and slum landlord, who, in his old age, wants to share his life story. As he exposes the truth about her family's past Vivien learns how to be comfortable in her own skin and how to be alive in the world.

Grant is a spectacularly humanizing writer whose morally complex characters explore the line between selfishness and self-preservation.
  

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Review: The Clothes On Their Backs

User Review  - Laine Cunningham - Goodreads

Fantastic story. This book follows a woman's life from her youth when she used clothes to define an identity she couldn't otherwise develop through her efforts to locate the past that was hidden from ... Read full review

Review: The Clothes On Their Backs

User Review  - Susan Bennett - Goodreads

I enjoyed reading this book. So cleverly written that I didn't mind that the book pursued the lives of unhappy family members who at times are endearing but at other times are unlikable. The parents ... Read full review

All 5 reviews »

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
14
Section 3
22
Section 4
26
Section 5
36
Section 6
47
Section 7
53
Section 8
67
Section 17
175
Section 18
179
Section 19
191
Section 20
201
Section 21
220
Section 22
226
Section 23
233
Section 24
249

Section 9
80
Section 10
95
Section 11
114
Section 12
120
Section 13
135
Section 14
147
Section 15
159
Section 16
166
Section 25
253
Section 26
259
Section 27
266
Section 28
271
Section 29
278
Section 30
283
Section 31
294
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Linda Grant is a novelist and journalist. She won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000 and the Lettre Ulysses Prize for the Art of Reportage in 2006. Her most recent novel, The Clothes on Their Backs, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2008. She writes for The Guardian, The Telegraph, and Vogue.

Bibliographic information