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The American debut of an enthralling new voice: a vivid, indelibly told work of fiction that follows four generations of a family against the backdrop of a tumultuous century—a novel about inheritance, about fate and passion, and about what it means to truly break free of the past.

This is the story of the Hastings family—their secrets, their loves and losses, dreams and heartbreaks—captured in a seamless series of individual moments that span the years between the First World War and the present. The novel opens in 1914 as William, a young factory worker, spends one last evening at home before his departure for the navy . . . His son, Billy, grows into a champion cyclist and will ride into the D-Day landings on a military bicycle . . . His son in turn, Will, struggles with a debilitating handicap to become an Oxford professor in the 1960s . . . And finally, young Billie Hastings makes a life for herself as an artist in contemporary London. Just as the names echo down through the family, so too does the legacy of choices made, chances lost, and truths long buried.

 

This ebook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.

Published: Alfred A. Knopf an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9780307958365
List price: $11.99
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I picked this up because I liked Fleur's review of it. If you're in the mood for a family tale that takes you from 1914 to, I forget exactly, 2000 and a bit, but isn't exactly a family saga then this is the thing to read. Short portraits of the lives of four generations that make a great story when they are put together. Quite delightful.more
This is a story told over three generations, covering the period from the first world war till today. We have William who lost his life at Gallipoli, and his son Billy , a great cyclist who fought in the second world war. William was a factory hand who would always send a postcard home to his wife Amelia of the places he saw that she kept in a book - a picture book. Billy's son is called Will (they did not like to vary the name), and he had a difficult childhood and spent much time in hospital because he was born a cripple with one damaged leg. But he became a successful Oxford academic. The last to feature in the story is Billie who becomes an artist in contemporary London. I liked the sound of this book as I like the concept of family stories covering different generations told over a period of time, and I thought this one was done quite well, but while I found the characters interesting enough, we did not delve deeply enough into there lives for me to see it as a great book, but it was worth reading.more
This book was beautifully written with rich, deep characters and a compelling storyline. The story spans four generations with a feel of short stories about each yet neatly intertwined so that the book has a nice overall flow. This story was hard to put down, which is surprising for me since I am usually impatient with short stories as they often leave me wanting more. Instead, this book gave enough detail to make me love and enjoy the characters, yet kept moving at a rapid pace. Reader received a complimentary copy from Good Reads First Readsmore
This is the story of four generations of one family: William who dies at Gallipoli in WWI, Billy who fights in WWII, Oxford academic Will, and his daughter, artist Billie. There are several chapters set around each generation and of course there is some overlap.This book sounded right up my street. I like inter-generational novels and books set during the wars. The writing is good, but I just found it very hard to engage with any of the characters, or feel anything for them, because there were just snapshots into their lives. I felt like I wasn't taking any of it in really, and was just skimming the surface of the stories.So I did come away feeling a bit disappointed by it all, and feeling a bit like what could have been great just didn't quite work. I've given it three stars for the writing and the idea.more
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Reviews

I picked this up because I liked Fleur's review of it. If you're in the mood for a family tale that takes you from 1914 to, I forget exactly, 2000 and a bit, but isn't exactly a family saga then this is the thing to read. Short portraits of the lives of four generations that make a great story when they are put together. Quite delightful.more
This is a story told over three generations, covering the period from the first world war till today. We have William who lost his life at Gallipoli, and his son Billy , a great cyclist who fought in the second world war. William was a factory hand who would always send a postcard home to his wife Amelia of the places he saw that she kept in a book - a picture book. Billy's son is called Will (they did not like to vary the name), and he had a difficult childhood and spent much time in hospital because he was born a cripple with one damaged leg. But he became a successful Oxford academic. The last to feature in the story is Billie who becomes an artist in contemporary London. I liked the sound of this book as I like the concept of family stories covering different generations told over a period of time, and I thought this one was done quite well, but while I found the characters interesting enough, we did not delve deeply enough into there lives for me to see it as a great book, but it was worth reading.more
This book was beautifully written with rich, deep characters and a compelling storyline. The story spans four generations with a feel of short stories about each yet neatly intertwined so that the book has a nice overall flow. This story was hard to put down, which is surprising for me since I am usually impatient with short stories as they often leave me wanting more. Instead, this book gave enough detail to make me love and enjoy the characters, yet kept moving at a rapid pace. Reader received a complimentary copy from Good Reads First Readsmore
This is the story of four generations of one family: William who dies at Gallipoli in WWI, Billy who fights in WWII, Oxford academic Will, and his daughter, artist Billie. There are several chapters set around each generation and of course there is some overlap.This book sounded right up my street. I like inter-generational novels and books set during the wars. The writing is good, but I just found it very hard to engage with any of the characters, or feel anything for them, because there were just snapshots into their lives. I felt like I wasn't taking any of it in really, and was just skimming the surface of the stories.So I did come away feeling a bit disappointed by it all, and feeling a bit like what could have been great just didn't quite work. I've given it three stars for the writing and the idea.more
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