Editorial Reviews for this title:
With her children evacuated and her husband at the front, Tory Pace is grudgingly sharing the family home with her irascible mother; working at the local gelatine factory – to help the war effort – and generally doing just about as well as could be expected in difficult times. Her quiet life is thrown into turmoil, however, when her prisoner-of-war husband, Donald, makes an outrageous demand for sexual gratification. He wants a dirty letter, by return of post! Horrified, at first, that Donald is being turned into some sort of monster by the Nazis, Tory’s disgust gradually gives way to a sense of marital duty, and taking in the libraries, bookshops, public conveniences and barbers’ shops of South-East London, she begins a quest to master the language of carnal desire: a quest that takes a sudden and unexpected turn into far more dangerous territory. Beginning with an act of unintentional cannibalism, and flirting with a scheme to end world hunger by the use of protein pills, Nourishment ranges widely across the Continent and yet always returns home: to family, to people, to relationships. Woodward offers a prescient examination of the ways in which we both nurture and consume each other in the face of adversity.
`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
'[Woodward] 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...line by line it is consistently inventive and witty, and there are great set pieces throughout...The gifts and facilities of a highly original writer are all on display.'
'[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
'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
'[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 comic sensibility closer to Alan Bennett or Tom Sharpe. Woodward's rueful amusement isn't frivolity, it's a world view.' --Financial 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... 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.' --Sunday Telegraph
'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
'Woodward's feeling for the social mores of the period is as impressive as his tongue-in-cheek humour.' --Mail On Sunday
‘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 The English are an unusual bunch: quirky and eccentric, often reserved and reticent, but always strong and resilient. Tory Pace, the heroine of this beautifully written and hilarious black comedy, is all of these things. Typically, she’s trying to make the best of life in a difficult time: struggling, as only a mother can, to sustain her family in a land starved of nourishment. But like so many triumphs over adversity, her survival comes with a heavy price. Beginning shortly after the outbreak of war and continuing into the deftly drawn austerity years that followed, Woodward offers a generous family saga. Equally memorable for poignant moments of sadness, comic tableau, witty observations and unforgettable characters, Nourishment is a novel like no other – every bit as unique and charming as an English family, in fact. ‘Engrossing and witty . . . 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 ‘Salty, crunchy, incongruously comforting’ Literary Review ‘The gifts and facilities of a highly original writer are all on display’ Guardian
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