Nourishment reviews

15 September 2010

Gerard Woodward's beautiful novel Nourishment has been receiving some wonderful praise on its reception by critics. We've compiled some tasters of the best...

 

'A comic sensibility closer to Alan Bennett or Tom Sharpe. Woodward's rueful amusement isn't frivolity, it's a world view' Financial Times

'A compendium of long-held secrets, Nourishment excels in sharp plot turns and surprise chapter endings. As the action moves on, then loops back, from startling set piece to dramatic revelation…Woodward's writing is plain but his imagination is highly original…his bizarre scenarios shed an unsparing light on a period that is more often seen as a cosy backdrop to individual heroism or romantic love.' Sunday Times

'English embarrassment and the equally English love of provoking it through farcical surprise or scatological shock are a large part of his stock in trade. At the same time, with his gift for pushing situations to their furthest possible extreme, he can strike notes of piercing anguish and joy. His sensibility seems to hover somewhere between Stanley Spencer and Benny Hill… He began as a poet, and the virtues of English lyric poetry are carried over into his prose: verbal precision, detailed visual observation, arresting simile and metaphor… but his characters have a grandeur and excess…Line by line it is consistently inventive and witty, and there are great set pieces throughout (the loo scenes are done with particular gusto)…The gifts and facilities of a highly original writer are all on display.' Guardian

'[Nourishment] is engrossing and witty . . . Woodward has a gift for describing unorthodox behaviour…a deeply satisfying book - more akin to a filling roast dinner than to some of the gelatinous concoctions currently on the market.' Times Literary Supplement

'Nourishment in this novel takes various forms, although rarely are they wholesome…a brilliant black comedy seems bound to ensue' Daily Mail

'Woodward's style veers between self-consciously mundane postcard humour, effective evocations of humdrum domesticity and a single, searing moment of tragedy.' Metro

'[Woodward] writes on a saga scale, but with a tragicomic domestic sensibility…Salty, crunchy, incongruously comforting - the combination is very Gerard Woodward.' Literary Review

'Woodward's study of the ways in which we consume ourselves and those we love is surprising - and surprisingly charming - darkly witty and altogether brilliant.' Easy Living

'From its outrageous beginning, this quietly funny novel takes a series of unpredictable turns. An engaging, slightly unhinged study of family life.' Psychologies

'There are graceful comic touches in this portrait of lower middle-class life, and at the book's heart are some stimulating thoughts on our repression of our animal natures, and the liberating, if traumatic, ways in which war can affect this.' Spectator

'Emotionally this is a demanding novel…archly humorous, benign, preoccupied with social nuances…Each part is characterised by the same easy, elegant prose . . . Nourishment is beautifully written.' The Times

'A new novel by Gerard Woodward is an appetising prospect . . . If Woodward generally writes well about women, he can be heartbreaking when writing about young men. The novel is warm, humane and funny. The social comedy blends into a picture of a starved man and a starved nation. Yet Woodward can still delight in describing a spread of "corned-beef pasties, sprout terrines and Roquefort footballs . . . The novel might easily have made this year's Booker longlist . . . it is a novel to be savoured, and Woodward is a novelist to be treasured.' Daily Telegraph

'Comically dark undertone' Eastern Daily Press

'Woodward's latest, which open during the Blitz, takes the metaphor of nourishment and spreads it about as far as it can go, like a thrifty housewife cleverly eking out the weekly butter ration. . . Nourishment is a richly textured exploration of deprivation as a kind of death, of sustenance as growth . . . It's also a novel shrewdly written with an eye to disaster as a crucible for change. After the war, Tory is aware of society's hunger for big ideas, from gender parity in employment to 'houses for all'. For we all have ongoing needs to be met . . . All this Woodward conveys with his trademark joy in the power of words to create 'new worlds'. Out of war, it seems, some good can come.' Sunday Telegraph

'Gerard Woodward's fifth novel is a decidedly odd book. With its Second World War-era framing, its deliberately stilted descriptive style and its guarded repartee, it is faintly reminiscent of late-period Henry Green. But the territory staked out by Woodward's deadpan humour is far more extreme than anything Green contrived . . . Full of dense narrative patterns and oblique dialogue . . . Nourishment defies straightforward summary. Tragedy and high comedy uneasily intermingle. Awash with strange and secretive people who can't, or won't, communicate, and at all times bleakly hilarious, it is also, despite the obliquity of its approach, surprisingly moving.' Waterstone's Books Quarterly

Buy Nourishment on panmacmillan.com

 

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