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Bad Blood

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  885 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
Blood trickles down through every generation, seeps into every marriage. An international bestseller and winner of the Whitbread Biography Award, Bad Blood is a tragicomic memoir of one woman's escape from a claustrophobic childhood in post-World War II Britain and the story of three generations of the author's family and its marriages.

In one of the most extraordinary memo
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 18th 2003 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2000)
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Apr 23, 2016 Connie rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. It was a surprise to read about the unusual childhood of Lorna Sage, a well known literary critic. While her father was away fighting in World War II, young Lorna and her mother lived with her grandparents in a vicarage in Hanmer, Flintshire. Her grandparents had a terrible marriage and were constantly fighting. Her philandering minister grandfather loved to frequent the pubs. He was very bright and passed on his love of reading to Lorna. Her relatives wondered if Lorna had inherited ...more
Nov 01, 2009 Therese rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
There is an arrogance in this book. A haughtiness that keeps the reader at arms length. There is something petulant and mincy about her writing, drudging up the mistakes and misery of others, judging it snidely, and throwing it down. A good memoirist doesn't come off sounding like a tattle-tale, or if they are, they let their anger and hurt pour out for justification. Her voice is so, "ha ha look at these pathetic fools..." Unpleasant, despite some poetic writing.
Ok read, but nothing special, I didn't think she really had anything particularly new or different to say about the period, and she didn't really have all that exceptional a life, although I was impressed at her determination to sit her exams and go to university despite having just given birth, and would rather have read that story, rather than it just being the last chapter!!
Jul 28, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it
It took a little while to get going for me but when it did, I think when Lorna became a rebellious...ish teenager I loved it.

It is also uplifting, funny in a grim way and has some great pictures showing what a stylish lady she was. I was saddened to learn that Lorna Sage died in 2001.

Fine book.
Feb 27, 2012 Juliette rated it it was ok
Bitter, overwrought, screechy, self-absorbed and self-important: can NOT understand why all her reviewers were so complimentary, although could guess it might be something to do with fear! Sorry, thumbs down.
Feb 02, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: McGeorge Bundy
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: The New Yorker
Shelves: own, memoir
A quite excellent memoir. Learning about Sage's deprived, mucky childhood, you will be stunned what she made of herself. (An academic, award-winning literary critic and author.)
Jun 23, 2013 Lnaimark rated it really liked it
Ms Sage is a wonderful writer. The structure and style are somewhat unusual for a memoir, and I definitely appreciate that.

Spending time in a post-war Welsh vicarage with Lorna's lusty vicar grandfather, perpetually sour and angry grandmother, and her ditsy mother----none of whom could manage to lift a broom or to teach Lorna to bathe, apparently---was definitely one of those "Gee, I didn't know people lived like that" experiences. Again....a plus for me Moving out of the vicarage and into "coun
Mar 19, 2016 Emma rated it really liked it
For some reason before reading this book I didn't check when it was published; if I had I would've found it a safe conclusion that the author is dead. And I have no idea why that fact cast a pall over the book; often our authors are never really dead anyway. Poe and Bronte and Wilde and Mailer are as alive to me today as they ever were. But Sage writes with such piss and vinegar, with all of the arrogance and angst and condemnation of the teenager she was that her death was strangely effecting. ...more
Jun 12, 2012 Mam rated it really liked it
A peaceful, nearly affectionate memoir of a challenging and poverty driven childhood. Lorna Sage is a fine story teller and steps back enough from her own life to let the reader see and feel for herself.
Hers is the story of an angry, philandering grandfather, a grandmother who hated her husband and a little girl who grew up believing that she was as bad as her grandfather.
In post war England, there was grimness and shortages shared by all, especially in remote villages in the countryside and i
Feb 10, 2013 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the print reviews call this memoir tenderly written, an exuberant celebration, generous. I'm going to say no to all of that. For the most part the author is a sullen observer of miserable people. One reviewer said it described a time in English villages that England continues to run from - that comes closest to my perception. However there are some pertinent observations on women and their lives and the fact that intelligence, education, self determination and books can pull them out of ...more
Apr 14, 2009 Yak rated it liked it
Well-written but not terribly enjoyable memoir of a woman growing up with the world's worst grandparents and mother in post-war England and Wales. These people are so mundanely awful that it's jot even entertaining or heartbreaking to read about them, such as with "The Glass Castle" or "Running With Scissors."
Cheryl Armstrong
Jul 25, 2013 Cheryl Armstrong rated it liked it
Wonderful, compelling beginning, the grandfather and grandmother, locked in a dysfunctional marriage, descriptions of the vicarage and the relationship between the author and her family. Though Lorna Sage is an excellent writer, descriptions of place and people are detailed and vivid, the story bogs down as the chapters progress and seems all too familiar.
Feb 26, 2015 K rated it it was ok
Not being familiar with Lorna Sage, I read this strictly from an interest in autobiography. I found myself waiting for something, anything to happen, but the story was told in such a gray, weary manner, even the "big" events in her life seemed mundane.
Jennifer Rolfe
Sep 30, 2011 Jennifer Rolfe rated it liked it
I found this book a good analysis of social life in the post ww2 period in rural Wales but she told the story and I don't feel very connected to the people. Where was the resolution? Felt the author was rather detached from the whole process.
Mar 16, 2013 Kitty rated it it was ok
Not the page turner it should have been. Had a hard time caring one way or the other about the author. At one point, I almost returned to the library half read. Don't know why I perservered. Now that I am done, I just feel ambivalent.
Chloe Fowler
Jan 17, 2015 Chloe Fowler rated it really liked it
I think I heard a podcast about Bad Blood, never knew it existed despite the furore it created at time of publication. Anyway, beautifully written. Gloriously so. A scurrilous, delicious treat.
Sep 24, 2007 Stephanie rated it it was ok
I couldn't finish it. It reminded me of The Gathering - nice writing, moving story, but it just felt too far away to relate to. For some reason, I just couldn't focus on it long enough to finish it.
Nov 30, 2010 Jess rated it really liked it
I finished this book feeling pretty inspired - it's amazing what this woman achieved with her passion for books. Slowly paced, but well worth reading and persevering with.
Sep 12, 2011 Gillian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
So beautifully written I could not put it down. Lorna Sage writes perceptively and without sentiment about growing up in England after the war.
May 06, 2012 Anne rated it liked it
Interesting slice of life for post WWII Britain. No dialog made it a little slow going.
Sep 04, 2013 Barbara rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
British literary critic's coming of age memoir clouded by unlikeable family.
Oct 26, 2016 Emily rated it really liked it
Three and a half stars. Loved the first part, to do with the vicarage and her grandparents. It bogged down for me in places after that, though still enjoyable and thought-provoking. Her narrative comments can be harsh and judgmental towards her family and in general, but I took that as part of the picture of who she was, as in, she didn't dress up how she felt or behaved. One of the reasons I read memoirs is to encounter people I would never have known and, hopefully, get to understand them a bi ...more
Dec 17, 2015 Andrew rated it it was amazing
In the first page of this book I came across this line "The church was at least safe. My grandmother never went near it - except feet first in a coffin, but that was years later when she buried in the same grave with him. Rotting together for eternity, one flesh at last after a lifetime's mutual loathing". This sets the scene on her grandparents relationship which is fundamental to the development of Lorna Sage as a person and made me laugh out loud . I knew I was going to love this darkly comic ...more
Apr 25, 2016 Belle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first page was one of the best that I have ever read. It really did pull me in, as it had everything: all the sights, sounds and even smells to put me right there with them and there was a dark humour which let me know that these people were slightly dangerous and completely unexpected. A family of true characters. I was intrigued to find out more.

The book is in three parts and the first part (91 pages) predominantly tells the story of the author's grandfather and family dynamics. Mostly th
Jul 03, 2016 Eileen rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
This was a DNF for me.

Always a tough admission for a bibliophile to make - that you failed to complete a well-regarded work of literature. Especially when you can nevertheless understand why it's had such recognition. Lorna Sage's insight is piercing and merciless. She digs deeply through layers of dysfunction with an analytical studiousness usually reserved for the anthropologist or historian. Her grandfather's diary, the story of his rise and fall as vicar and various adulteries, is thrown ope
Jan 18, 2014 Jean rated it it was ok
I came close to giving it three stars, but the narrative style, some ambiguous phraseology, and paragraphs that sometimes trailed off into other realms, made this book somewhat of a slog for me, until about halfway through, when it more securely snagged my interest. The book won the 2000 Whitbread Biography Award, so there is appeal and value. Lorna Sage's life story is unusual and not the sort of background you'd expect of a noted English professor and literary critic.

From the beginning she had
For those in my book group - this has nothing whatsoever to do with vampire sex despite the title! Actually, title probably chosen by editor, as has little to do with this interesting memoir. Lorna believes she has her grandfather's "bad blood" because she's told she's promiscuous & destined for no good, following her early pregnancy after a one-time, "it-didn't-even-feel-good" sexual experience. This is the story of her upbringing by her grandparents & silent, uninvolved mother during t ...more
Clarice Stasz
Jul 30, 2015 Clarice Stasz rated it really liked it
The late Lorna Sage was an esteemed literary critic and English professor at the University of East Anglia. Published in 2000, just before her death, the memoir won the Whitbread Biography Award. The time period is the 1940s in conservative, poverty-ridden Welsh villages. In that regard, those familiar with postwar UK may appreciate how the work is a metaphor for a generation of rural survivors. Mix in a crazed grandfather vicar and parents with their own problems, and this excels other memoirs ...more
Pauline Ross
This is rather a slight book, not uninteresting but I have to wonder (as always with autobiography or memoir) what sense of self-importance drove the author to think her life story was sufficiently interesting to set down.

Her family is disfunctional (aren't they always?), her grandfather a minister of the church with a compulsion to have affairs, her grandmother a viciously angry woman and their marriage an aggressively bitter affair casting a pall over the household. Her mother is a perpetual c
Rachael Eyre
Dec 18, 2014 Rachael Eyre rated it liked it
Possibly the oddest memoir I've ever read. Sage's girlhood reads like a real life Cold Comfort Farm, with a coterie of barmy relatives - the promiscuous Rev, her stirring grandma, the pervy socialist uncle. It's a powerful invocation of a time where transgressions such as teenage pregnancy and divorce were beyond the pale, and turned ordinary people into pariahs. It also demonstrates the harm that unhappy families can do, because her relations seem to have deliberately kept her in the dark about ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please combine Bad Blood plus add description 3 24 Nov 14, 2012 11:20PM  
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The eldest child of Valma and Eric Stockton, she was named after Lorna Doone [1]. Sage was born at Hanmer, Flintshire, Wales, and educated at the village school, then at the Girls' High School in Whitchurch, Shropshire. Her childhood in the late 1940s and early 1950s is recalled in her last book Bad Blood. Sage became pregnant when she was 16 but was able to continue her education and won a schola ...more
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“More and more I lived in books, they were my comfort, refuge, addiction, compensation for the humiliations that attended contact with the world outside.” 14 likes
“But perhaps my blocked sinuses did have something to do with how bad I was at gym, perhaps after all I did lack balance?” 0 likes
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