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Five Miles From Outer Hope
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Five Miles From Outer Hope

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  127 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Nicola Barker's teen queen heroine, Medve, has no truck with the niceties of polite expression. Medve is six foot three and living with her family in a crumbling art deco hotel on a small island, off the coast of England. She is "single-minded, oestrogen-fuelled and cunning", with a foul mouth and scattershot approach to story telling. Medve means bear in Hungarian and she ...more
Paperback, 191 pages
Published March 19th 2001 by Faber and Faber (first published 2000)
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Story of a Cornish summer, told by a 16 year old girl and set in 1981. Although I was that age in that year, her character, style, family and life could hardly be more different.

She is the middle of 5 children in a hippie, semi-nomadic family, with many strange quirks, some individual and some shared. She is a giant, her father almost a dwarf (or whatever is the PC term), her mother is away, and a weird South African lad comes to stay. It is supposedly about their teenage flirtation, but it's w
MJ Nicholls
A swift, impish novella from the refreshingly oddball Hackney genius. Medve is your narrator: an acid-tongued sixteen-year-old with a line in erudite putdowns. (Except the story is narrated twenty-odd years in the future, with the narrator doing the voice of her teenage self — the logic is a little messy. Anyway).

Medve's world is turned on its head when a smelly South African ex-medic comes to stay in her father's derelict hotel. His determination to inspect her vagina becomes an increasing bugb
[3.5] I’ve started to associate Nicola Barker’s books with summer. It’s just that’s when I’ve read all of them so far, but there’s good reason with this one: it’s set in June 1981. (I didn’t consciously pick it up for that reason, but in that way that recently-read books often unexpectedly connect with each other, the last one I finished [Dorian by Will Self] also opened in 1981 and mentioned ‘Tainted Love’ early on.) Five Miles from Outer Hope should be set in late July or August though as ther ...more
Barker has a very striking way with descriptions, and in itself that is her great strength. However in this book she over-uses them which becomes distracting and eventually quite annoying. There also wasn't much of a story, and as a whole I found it read like an exercise in 'how clever do I sound?'. She has shown vast improvements in her more recent novels (eg Darkmans).
Excellent! Loved it! Such zany characters... a bold story... very original.

I enjoyed the language/writing style immensely. I'm trying to choose just one quote that is representative of this book... but I am finding that it is hard to take anything out of context, since one incident flows into another. But here goes, this paragraph early in the book actually is a good summary of the what is to come:

"And it was the self-same summer -- June 5th, if precision is your watchword -- that I first set e
Courtney Johnston
Imagine this as the foulmouthed teenage girl version of David Mitchell's paean to being a teenager in Britain in the 1980s.

It's a mad tale, but hugely enjoyable - our storyteller, the 6-foot-something 16-yeard-old Medve, has a narrative style is to words as black forest gateaux is to cake; she just keeps piling it on:

'My clitoris, you'll be pleased to know, is as well-defined as the ret of me. It's the approximate size of a Jersey Royal. But whenever I try and mash it (don't sweat, I know these
After reading this passage, on the first page, no less, I was hooked:

“And it was that self-same summer—June 5th, if precision is your watchword—that I first set eyes on a stringy southern hemisphere home-boy, a man-boy, a prankish puck by the name of La Roux (with very bad skin and even worse instincts), who sailed into the slow-beating heart of our half-arsed, high-strung, low-bred family, then casually capsized himself, but left us all drowning (now they don’t teach you that at the Sea Scouts
Ok this novel really deserves a 3 1/2. I toyed with giving it four stars but it wasn't quite there. Barker's writing style is still fantastic but the story isn't as bizarre and enchanting as Darkmans. In a way, this is more like a weird feminine John Irving-esque sort of novel where the British family of misfits are all named after Thurber dogs and seem like the kind of people who will always struggle to find their place in this world. While the mother goes galavanting across American prisons ma ...more
Annie Holmes
Have to give up. Adjective overload. I should have tried one of her others.
Eleanor Collins
I loved this book! It was hilarious and slightly bonkers.
I've read most of Nicola Barker's novels and usually really enjoy the emphasis on dialogue and their failure to follow proper novel rules. At first, I thought this might be the exception. The narrator is a very annoying, misfit 16 year old girl, with all the loudness, exaggeration, self-centredness and self-pity that that entails. Once, I was drawn in, however, her voice worked perfectly. ...more
I'd love to meet Nicola Barker. Her stories are so full of cleverly crafted weirdness - scenarios, characters. This was so funny in parts. A teenage girl narrates the story of her odd family over the course of one summer. Best opening line:
'It was during those boiled dry, bile-ridden, shit-ripped, god-foresaken early-bird years of the nineteen eighties.'
Hiwot Abebe
Five Miles From Outer Hope is technically not my type of book but I first read it when I was 14 and it's stuck with me since. It's the book I read every few months. It's my go to comforter when I'm in a bad mood. This is the book that makes everything better. For me, that is. I love it.
3.5 stars. By checking out her back catalog titles, I notice improvement and the progression of Nicola honing her writing skills over the earlier period of her career in the 1990's. Engaging, quirky characters and happenings are her bread and butter.
I loved this one.

The characters were quirky but likable. It was funny and intelligent. It was pretty much everything I like a book to be.
had trouble with the narrative voice in this one, but it all comes together in the end. probably the Barker i've liked the least though.
Bruce Campbell
Oct 28, 2007 Bruce Campbell rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in how adolescents think.
Amazing and original language use and a unique story.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Nicola Barker is an English writer.
Nicola Barker’s eight previous novels include Darkmans (short-listed for the 2007 Man Booker and Ondaatje prizes, and winner of the Hawthornden Prize), Wide Open (winner of the 2000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award), and Clear (long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2
More about Nicola Barker...
Darkmans (Thames Gateway, #3) The Yips Wide Open (Thames Gateway, #1) Clear: A Transparent Novel Burley Cross Postbox Theft

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“And it was that self-same summer—June 5th, if precision is your watchword—that I first set eyes on a stringy southern hemisphere home-boy, a man-boy, a prankish puck by the name of La Roux (with very bad skin and even worse instincts), who sailed into the slow-beating heart of our half-arsed, high-strung, low-bred family, then casually capsized himself, but left us all drowning (now they don’t teach you that at the Sea Scouts, do they?).” 1 likes
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