Hideous Kinky
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Hideous Kinky

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  1,513 ratings  ·  145 reviews
This novel is semi-autobiographical and based on the author's own experience of traveling with her mother Bernadine Coverley, in North Africa, between the ages of four and six. Weaving between the vivid descriptions of life on the move, the desert, and its cast of exotic characters, is a deeply moving and poignant tale of what it's like, as a child, to be part of an unconv...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 25th 1993 by Penguin (first published 1992)
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Shovelmonkey1
Nov 20, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
You have to hand it to the Freud family. They know how to have colourful lives. OK, they come from pretty historically significant stock which tends to give you a bit of a leg-up in the interesting stakes. Not many of us get to have a historically renowned thinker for a Great-Grandfather or a famous artist for a father, both of which tend to get you invited to dinner parties on the grounds that you'll be a purveyor of fine anecdotal recollections about some hidden family eccentricity or scandal....more
Patricia
Not many adult books are written from a child’s perspective and not many of those books are good. This is. The narrator is a five year old who travels with her seven year old sister and her mother to Marrakech. It seems to be the 60s because everyone is very free. School? Not necessary. Brushing teeth? Not happening. Dentil problems due to not brushing? Oh well. Money to pay the rent? It will get here, eventually.

The narrator chronicles the sister’s journey as their mother drifts around Marrakec...more
Josie
I utterly adore this book. The vibrant, sensory descriptions of Marrakech and Morocco are delicious to read, and the relationship between the sisters is realistic. The narrator (the unnamed younger sister) looks at things sometimes naively, sometimes with a wisdom beyond her age. I found myself empathising with Bea more - I suppose because I'm an older sister too, but also because she was very much like me personality-wise (the sensible one). Sometimes characters are introduced then tantalisingl...more
C.
Sep 30, 2008 C. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: People interested in literary technique
Recommended to C. by: 1001
An interesting book for its narrative point of view. It is the story of two children going to Morocco with their thoroughly Bohemian mother and is told from the perspective of the youngest child (aged three or four). It was fascinating because there was very little in the way of tone - defined by the IB English A1 Bible as 'the attitude of the author or narrator to their subject'. What I mean is that there was very little judgement - everything was described, but the only conclusions were direct...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Superb imagination and control, that's what the author exhibited in this novel. From the book's cover I learned that this had been made into a film with Kate Winslet (of the Titanic) in the lead role. I haven't seen it yet, but I think Ms. Winslet indeed fits the role of the young, hippie mother with two daughters, ages 5 and 7.

They were English. For some unclear reasons, the mother took her kids away from London and went to Morocco. The father was left in London, but it wasn't clear also if he...more
Kathy
I thought I wouldn't like this at first, but actually it was really good. I think the title does it a real disservice because it sounds so ridiculous. Once you know what it means, it makes sense, but when you first pick up a book, the title shouldn't be so off-putting, should it?

That aside, this is a very subtle piece of writing. The child's point of view is strictly adhered to, so no interpretation of events is offered. Yet the reader is given plentiful evidence of the child's increasing distre...more
Jackie
I'm not sure why so many people love this book.
I see no reason to celebrate a flaky mother who neglects her kids. She annoyed me in her selfishness. No, it was more than that; I hated her.
The story wasn't terrible, it just really bothered me. As the book went on, it was less adventurous and more heartbreaking. I wished I could reach into the book and slap the hell out of Julia (the mother).
I'm sure I'm gonna piss off a lot of people who loved the book, but I can't see the beauty in neglecting c...more
Lynn
Just like the narrator's mother, this book meanders along rather aimlessly. And rather than be enchanted or amused by the character of a young woman who takes her two young children to Morocco in search of 'enlightenment', I found myself becoming quite angry with her fecklessness and what I saw as neglect of her children's needs.

The writing itself is strong, but I was also quite shocked when the narrator's age is eventually revealed as four. The character of a young child is never really capture...more
Tim
A light, easy, possibly superficial, read that charts the life of two young children and their mother on the hippy trail in 60s Morocco. Whether you find the novel liberating or frustrating will largely depend on how you perceive the actions of the mother. While clearly a loving parent, her lifestyle leads to the children starving, begging, sleeping rough, taking narcotics and even being abandoned on the streets of Marrakech while the mother takes off on a whim to become a Sufi.

While it's intere...more
Theresa
It was a slow start, but once I got going, I was completely in love.

I have mad wanderlust and sometimes books like this are all I can do to keep myself from jumping on a plane. This one captured my imagination by giving the feeling of living in Morocco without a plan, practically penniless, and even as I was feeling sorry for the young girls, I wanted to be there with them.

Thankfully, the author is able to give us this story without demonizing the mother. We come to understand her a little bit...more
Sherry (sethurner)
"It wasn't until we were halfway thorough France that we noticed Maretta wasn't talking." Maretta wasn't saying much, so I suppose it was a good thing she ended up not being very important to the narrative. The narrator is the younger daughter of an English woman traveling through Morocco. There is a father, but we learn nothing of him. We never learn why the mother is dragging her two young daughters through the streets of Marrakech (and beyond), often unsure of where they will stay next or whe...more
Alex Howell
I think the hardest thing for an author to get right is striking the balance between either giving the reader too little information or issues to explore, or too much: prescribing conclusions without leaving time or room to ponder. I can’t quite work out if Hideous Kinky suffers from a dearth of thought provoking material (i.e.- it’s dull), or is actually refreshingly free.

Let’s get this out of the way- Hideous kinky has no plot to speak of. It’s essentially about a mixed up mother of two, now s...more
MichelleCH
The most loveable and intriguing part of this story was that it was told from the perspective of 5 year old Lucy. And even more so was Freud's ability to keep the magical thinking and ideas of Lucy throughout the book which left me wanting more.

Lucy sees all as an adventure and makes keen observations about the adults around her including Mum. Bea who is older is more practical and longs for a more normal and less outrageous Mum.

The story begins with Lucy's mother deciding to go to Morocco with...more
Lauren
I remember when this movie came out. I saw a preview for it with my mother and we both looked at each other and said we wanted to see it. Somehow that never happened.

So when I discovered that this was a book on the 1001 books list I was very excited. Probably too much so.

The basic premise of this book is that a woman moves to Morocco with her two daughters aged 5 and 7. The younger daughter narrates the story and the older daughter rebels, clinging onto any "English" life she can.

Now being tol...more
Rebecca
I really enjoyed this book and thought Freud really skilfully captured a child's voice. Other reviewers have said the characters are 2D but you are only getting a 5 year old's perspective on them, and her view would obviously only take in parts of a person and their actions & story- all the mother's boyfriends, for example, are seen only as Lucy interacted with them and you aren't shown any of the romantic side of their relationship with Julia beyond the occasional kiss. It was especially fu...more
Shaz S
Blurb on the back: The debut novel from the author of "Summer at Gaglow, " called "a near-seamless meshing of family feeling, history and imagination" by the "New York Times" Book Review. Escaping gray London in 1972, a beautiful, determined mother takes her daughters, aged 5 and 7, to Morocco in search of adventure, a better life, and maybe love. "Hideous Kinky" follows two little English girls -- the five-year-old narrator and Bea, her seven-year-old sister -- as they struggle to establish som...more
Ruthmgon
I read this book after I saw the movie, and thought they pretty much had the same feel. Anyhow, the mother is very into her plans and searches for enlightenment. It doesn't seem to bother her to be put into precarious positions in an Arabic country with her children-sort of a hands-off hippie anti-establishment upbringing.

This really bothered one of my friends that watched the movie with me. But I felt that the book (and movie) really emphasized the 6 year old's point of view as she traipses al...more
Doreen
Absolutely devoured this book, and not just from either hunger for serious fiction or from the ridiculously delicious descriptions of Moroccan food (which I spent almost the entire book craving.) It's a really good book. The narrator's voice is authentic without being too precocious and cloying, and some of the truly harrowing stuff Mum puts her kids through is made even more shocking by the matter-of-fact tone in which the events are related. The only reason I didn't give it five stars instead...more
Beth
Another book from the perspective of a young girl (like A Girl Named Zippy and others), which I like. She has a non-judgemental telling of the events and though it isn't laugh-out-loud funny (like A Girl Named Zippy) there is a lightness and positivity to it despite the situations she and her sister are in while traveling through Morocco with their free-spirited mother.

I've always loved the title and wanted to see the movie once I heard the title but haven't yet. Just picked up the book recently...more
zespri
Once again, I am glad I read the book before seeing the movie as had no preconceptions about what to expect. It did annoy me a bit after reading that Kate Winslett was emblazoned on the front cover, as this is not her story, but the story of her daughter.

This is a delightful account of a hippie mother who travels to Morocco with her two young daughters. The mother, Julia, seems to be on a continual search for enlightenment and spiritual fulfilment, and the girls are along for the ride. The story...more
Trisha
a book that is hard to rate. On one hand, I thought it wasn't half bad. Told from the point of view of a young child (the book never specifies but on here it says she is 5), everything is told with naivity. many of the situation the mother goes through, I could see from both the 5 year old point of view and the mom ~ despite not knowing the culture or the country they were in.

I think at the end of it all, I liked it. It broke my heart and will stay with me a little while, which is why I give it...more
crazy-book-lady
From my bookcrossing review (previous journal entries had mentioned that the story was difficult to follow):

I really enjoyed this book and didn't find it difficult to follow, though I read it in a short period of time. I liked that the story was told from the perspective of the youngest girl, and found that after a certain point I couldn't put it down because I had such a feeling of foreboding about what might happen to the girls as a result of their mother's self-absorption and neglect. At the...more
Jennifer
Narrated by a young girl (from about 4 to 5), this is the story of two sisters transplated by their mother, in search of adventure, from England to Morocco. I thought it was Fresh, light, and engrossing. I found the mother a little less endearingly eccentric than I think I was supposed to, and found the side characters far move vivid and likeable. I always love novels told from the younger sibbling perspective, especially when unusual places/circumstances are involved. This one especially. Defin...more
Bob
This book didn't make it onto my "must read" radar for quite some time - perhaps owing to its title? Which, as it turns out, is intentionally silly - one of the running jokes of two young sisters about words they think are ridiculous sounding.

The narrative voice is a tricky one because the story is told from the perspective of a girl of 5 or 6 (she is too young for school or at least too young for school in Morocco), so we have the child's perspective, observations and preoccupations but the lan...more
DubaiReader
On the hippy trail.

I read this in Morocco, I don't think it would have had much appeal elsewhere. It seemed to be set somewhere in the early 70s, although it was published 20 years later. Not a lot happens but it does evoke some of the sights and sounds of this fascinating country.

I found it a strange book, narrated by a four-year-old girl who travels with her mother and older sister to spend a year or so in Marrakesh. Her mother is a bit distant at times, spending her time meditating, waiting f...more
Donna
I was compelled to read this book as it's famously set in Morocco - I'm glad I did read it, it's written from the charmingly innocent point of view of a four year old who has been taken by her mother (who I found to be rather selfish) along with her elder sister into a new and exotic world.
Although this story does not at all reflect on any of my own expeiences in Morocco, I found it greatly interesting to see the coutry from another viewpoint.
Rj
That was such a powerful statement, that last paragraph of this story. I wish the rest of the story had been as human and sensitive; or had dared to explore the relationships between the mother and her children.

I don't understand how this novel became so prize worthy - is it because the author's from a famous family, or was she really young when she wrote it, or something? Yeah, it's a story and I was glad to read about life off the beaten track in Morocco in the sixties. I found the story itsel...more
Becky
In Hideous Kinky, a mother takes her children to Morocco for reasons that are never touched upon. The story is narrated by the youngest daughter, and details the joys and struggles of growing up in an unfamiliar environment. It's funny, uplifting and wonderfully evocative, but in the end there is a lack of substantial plot which leaves it a little unaffecting. Still, a quick and pleasant read.
Leila
This is one of the first books I've read from the 1001 Books list that I couldn't really figure out why it made the list. It is a very readable journal of a 5 year-old girl who is dragged around Morocco in the 1960's. There's just not much more to it than that. The descriptions are not particularly vivid and the point-of-view is not novel. Just fine, that's all.
Joanna
A Wonderfully told Story about an English Woman who travels across Morocco with her 2 young children, told from the perspective of her youngest child. Very well written, Wonderfully Atmospheric.
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61088
Esther Freud is the daughter of painter Lucian Freud and Bernadine Coverley, and is the great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud.
See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther_F...
More about Esther Freud...
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