Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bad Blood” as Want to Read:
Bad Blood
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bad Blood

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  691 ratings  ·  71 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bad Blood, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bad Blood

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,570)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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.
Feb 02, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.)
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
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
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
Rachael Eyre
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
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!!
Cheryl Armstrong
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.
In a powerfully written coming of age memoir/autobiography, Sages takes a claustrophobic childhood to new level. Life in a remote Welsh village is colored by her grandfather, a philandering vicar who is so ornery that he blackens the spines of his books so no one will want to borrow them. Then there is his bitter wife who hates sex, motherhood and particularly the vicar. Her father joins the family after WWII and Sage gets a baby brother and a normal family structure, but Sage never feels she es ...more
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
Jennifer Rolfe
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.
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.
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.
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.
So beautifully written I could not put it down. Lorna Sage writes perceptively and without sentiment about growing up in England after the war.
A high energy memoir that took me into Sage's constricted life as a young girl caught between the hatred of her grandmother toward all men and the attention given her by her gallivanting Anglican minister grandfather post WW2. She's brilliant but unrecognized for it--a snappy girl who doesn't fit in. I so much appreciated reading about her "shotgun" marriage and how she and her young husband seemed to respectfully support one another in their higher education aspirations, not easy in the period ...more
Interesting slice of life for post WWII Britain. No dialog made it a little slow going.
Helen Hanschell Pollock

Loved this biography which seemed to combine something like Laurie Lee's 'Cider with Rosie' style with an 'Akenfield' one. Village living, amazing characters and dysfunctional families as I believe all families are. What is normal? Beautifully written, funny and sad. I will pass this book on to be enjoyed and to demonstrate the restrictions and uptightness of the 50s and early 60s, the feel and restrictions of the times. Does anybody else live in a house where the chimney is blocked for two floo
Lorna's life was going to be different from her parents and grandparents no matter what and it was, but first she had to explain her grandparents and parents lives. Her grandfather was a womanizing, drunken priest. Her grandmother made a career out of ill will for most and hatred for her husband. Her mother was just plain paralyzed by the family dynamics and Lorna hid in books and her own thoughts. Of course she would get pregnant and spend the rest of her married life in a sexless union until s ...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
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
I read this memoir for weeks, not wanting it to end. Lorna Sage is not a typical girl of the late 1940's and '50's in England. In her early years she lives with her grandparents, who shape her perspective of the world.(the grandfather is the most irreverent rector one could ever meet!) Her parents don't step back into the picture until she has a brother, the grandfather dies, and the grandmother comes to live with them. I loved all the details of the 50's...close knit friends, school, clothes, b ...more
Really enjoyed this, at times it kind of reminded me of Cider With Rosie.

Liked the inclusion of the photographs (one of Lorna and her brother reminded me of one of me and my brother).

Would have liked it to go on to talk more about her life at university and how they lived there.

Really didn't expect it to become a story about a teenage pregnancy.
Evokes childhood in UK (and my own) with " In the spring the ground sucked at your feet: with every step you could savor the pull of the mud. This is what I liked so much about tramping around the fields, this stubborn resistance in every stcky clod: youcould hypnotise yourself with it, just putting one foot in front of another was so absorbing. This way you could lose yourself until you slowed toa dazed standstill and seemed a very passable village idiot, content to sit for hours in a thicketun ...more
This autobiography begins straight away; bang into the story from the first line with none of the tedious 'I was born during 19xx, my parents were from xx etc etc. It's one of the best I've read since it's so honest and concisely written.

I have never heard of Lorna Sage. I assume this was her first book, perhaps her only one, which was brewing inside waiting to be written for decades. I will Google her and see....

Sending to a book draw winner next. Hope you don't mind the ashtra
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.
Chloe Fowler
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.
Feb 05, 2015 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys true stories
Recommended to Mary by: my partner
Bought this book twice - first in paperback for my partner for Christmas and then again after he recommended it to me in digital format for myself.
Lane Anderson
Lorna Sage's memoir explores how much significance various influences have in forming her identity.

The title references her mother's accusation that Lorna shares the unfavourable disposition of her grandfather, an inherited fault that skipped a generation. The richness of her characters encourage our familiarity with them, and we become affectionately critical towards them in a way only family can - the way Lorna does. The smattering of old black and white photos picked from family photo albums
I can only imagine the people describing this as screechy and miserable are soulless and deficient. Yes, it's about an unhappy childhood, so it's hard reading at some points, but I call it triumphant! Pacing's a bit shaky but the writing is spectacular, the story totally absorbing and the end is fought for, tooth and nail. Well done Lorna Sage. Rest in peace.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 52 53 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please combine Bad Blood plus add description 3 24 Nov 14, 2012 11:20PM  
  • The Romantic Generation (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures)
  • The Man Died: Prison Notes of Wole Soyinka
  • The History of England
  • Borrowed Finery: A Memoir
  • Anthony Blunt: His Lives
  • An Image of Africa
  • Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World
  • The Farm: The Story Of One Family And The English Countryside
  • Paperboy
  • Giving Up the Ghost
  • Eminent Victorians
  • Venice
  • The Diary of Samuel Pepys: A Selection
  • Seeing in the Dark: How Amateur Astronomers Are Discovering the Wonders of the Universe
  • The Boy with No Shoes
  • Falling Through the Earth
  • The Revenge of Gaia
  • Deceived With Kindness
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
More about Lorna Sage...
Flesh and the Mirror: Essays on the Art of Angela Carter Angela Carter Moments Of Truth: Twelve Twentieth Century Women Writers Women in the House of Fiction: Post-War Women Novelists Doris Lessing

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“More and more I lived in books, they were my comfort, refuge, addiction, compensation for the humiliations that attended contact with the world outside.” 13 likes
More quotes…