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Frances Partridge
Gallows Court
Go Saddle The Sea
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Oxford Companion to the Brontes Anniversary edition
The Hired Man

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May 29, 2009

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I'm trying to figure out what it says about me and my reading habits that I have only read 3 of these books and thought one of those was marginal at best (The Observations). Am I missing out on an entire tier of fiction or is modern fiction just not my thing?

"compost stage of their reputations"

I love that.

At a quick scan I've read about 24 of them. Some brilliant (Sarah Waters - night watch, Liz Jensen - War crimes for the home, Zoe Heller - Notes on a scandal), some rather ordinary - The Observations, Secret life of Bees. Of the current crop I've only read 'The invention of Everything Else' which I loved. I'm never bothered about the winner exactly, but do like exploring the long-lists for reading recommendations - not that I'm a slave to fashion - I usually tend not to read books when they're in the news.

I'm with you on this completely.

I've read a similar number to you - mostly the same ones, at that.

And I'm REALLY not getting the fascination with some of the 'popular' names, seemingly for the sake of it.

But then, life is one big mystery to me at times!

I think you're right in that a fair number of these titles might easily in the long run end up being somewhat forgettable, but I really do think that there are also a good number of authors here who are very talented writers and worthy of being read, too. Granted it's a matter of sifting through and finding the hidden gems. I think being popular is a double edged sword. Authors must want to be popular and widely read in order to make a living, but sometimes being branded 'popular' might also be the kiss of death as serious readers then wonder what the hook is. For me, I just look at these lists as another source of possible reads--you might find something really good, or you might not.

According to the official website "The Orange Prize for Fiction was set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote fiction by women throughout the world to the widest range of readers possible. The Orange Prize is awarded to the best novel of the year written in English by a woman."

In other words, it has a fairly wide-ranging agenda, and is far less high-brow than many other awards.

I'll be the first to admit, it's a fairly hit and miss list, but as Danielle points out, half the fun is the possibility that you might find something really good (or you might not) on it.

Thanks everyone for your comments. I take your point, Danielle and kimbofo, that the prize has a wide remit and the fun is the gems amongst the pebbles, but I can't believe that they want to longlist pebbles but they persistantly do! By any definition! However, list are fun and a starting point and injure no-one so I shall stop being a grouch!

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