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Self Help

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  343 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Alone in her native St Petersburg, Maria Glover sends an urgent summons to London and New York. Her son and daughter arrive too late to see her, but the end of their mother's life marks the beginning of their own story: one of secrets, strangers, and the ultimate retelling of everything they thought they knew.

'Docx knows that what we want most from a novel are stories into
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Paperback, 528 pages
Published by Picador USA (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 815)
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Carla
Devo dizer que experimentei alguma dificuldade em acompanhar o ritmo inconstante do livro... mas o último terço deste "A Verdade" representa uma espécie de renascimento não só para as personagens principais como também para o leitor. O ruir de uma vida desencadeia a ruptura da descendência com as convenções a que - irresistivelmente - se submetiam e a busca do significado de um percurso vivencial específico converte-se na revelação da sua Verdade escondida - agora imutável, límpida, eterna, esse ...more
Elizabeth Kelly
I found the book a bit pretentious - it wasn't really my kind of book and that linked in with the fact that I couldn't feel for any of the characters aside from the Russian Piano Player (concentrating on him may have made better story rather than the sappy and annoying Gabriel). I did get into the book near the end but then the actual end went downhill again.
Susan from MD
I didn't really connect with this book, as it seemed uneven to me. The writing was a bit pretentious. Sometimes the prose just didn't flow -- there was one point when I wondered whether the writer just got a new thesaurus -- though other times, it was really quite nice and I could get a real sense of setting.

The characters, too, were unevenly drawn and often one (or maybe sometimes two) dimensional but not fully realized, IMO. Gabriel and Isabella were often so self-absorbed for much of the book
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Billy
Dec 04, 2008 Billy marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I've been carrying this book back and forth on my commute for too long now without cracking it. Every month or so I resolve to finish, but it never sticks. It's preventing me from starting anything else non-work related, because I feel like I'd be book cheating. Time to give up and move on.



A recommendation from C -- I like it quite a bit so far -- maybe I should heed her suggestions more often.

One bit, though, appearing on page 19, does make me a little cautious, in that it reminds me of someth
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Becca
While I made it through this book, I never really managed to connect with it. All of the characters (except the one the author bumped off) were wholly unremarkable. The two characters intended to be the most sympathetic did little else besides brood or complain about their father, who, though undeniably a hall-of-fame windbag, hardly seemed worth the energy. One of the other characters started off as strongly reminiscent of the villain in the prequel to "The Da Vinci Code", and fizzled out with ...more
Bobbie Darbyshire
I read this in a Picador edition, entitled 'Self Help'. There's some lovely descriptive writing, particularly about London and Paris, and a few 'jewel' insights had me smiling and appreciative... However... too many points of view made it unclear whose story it was and stood in the way of my caring about any of them, and the whole book felt padded with description, interior monologue and emoting. As an example, there's a whole chapter where nothing happens except that a character we don't care a ...more
Roberta
Okay, I'll admit it -- I only read the first 200 pages before it was time for book club. This book was really evocative -- I could really picture all of the characters and the scenes and that's a skill in and of itself and for that reason I kept with the book. But holy whatever, each character was so insanely, obnoxiously, dramatically, self-indugently self-analytical. The chapters switched from character-to-character, but each character-centered chapter was the same as the last one focused on t ...more
Hyperliteratura
Romanul lui Edward Docx, publicat cu acest titlu în Anglia și intitulat Pravda în SUA, nominalizat la premiul Booker în 2007, este puternic inspirat din dezvăluirea bunicii indiene pe patul de moarte: socrul ei a avut o legătură de scurtă durată cu o rusoaică, în urma căreia s-a născut mama lui Docx; socrul, rușinat, și-a convins fiul s-o crească pe micuță, ciopârțind și lipind astfel aiurea câteva ramuri ale arborelui genealogic al familiei. Până la urmă, șocul dezvăluirii a făcut mai mult bine ...more
Sarah
I couldn't finish this book. Actually, I lie. I got about 1/4 of the way in and then skipped and read the last 20 pages or so. The number of commas, of adjectives, of similes and metaphors, was so large that the narrative gave way to descriptive tedium. There didn't seem to be any forward motion between pages 3 and 126, which is where I gave up and skipped to the end. Maybe that was the point, that it was meant to be a new variation on the old Russian epic, but I've never been able to drag mysel ...more
Katya
Reading Pravda made me ready to give up on the world. Everyone here is mired in their mistakes, regrets, and insecurities. A lot of the prose is so heavy and poetic that you'd think it was translated from Russian instead of written in English. If you're already feeling kind of down, wait until you're in a happier place to read this book.

All that said, I did enjoy the frequent and beautiful philosophical statements that were often bandied about by the characters. For example:

[i]Half the world is
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Bookaholic
Publicat în UK, în 2007, drept Self Help, și republicat anul următor, în varii țări, drept Pravda, romanul lui Edward Docx (aflat pe lista pentru premiul Booker din acel an) se potriveste mai bine cu al doilea titlu, pentru că este o poveste în căutarea adevărului. Istorisirea lui Docx își are originile într-o povestire adevărată, cea a propriei sale mame, care se credea pe jumătate indiancă, până când, pe patul de moarte, bunica lui Edward i-a mărturisit fiicei sale că este adoptată, și de orig ...more
Jen
I got up to page 130 and then bailed. As other reviewers have noted, I had a hard time connecting to the characters and story. I did flip to the end to see what the big family secret/scandal was, and it was so blah that I'm glad I didn't soldier through all 390-ish pages to get to it.
Stephanie
Mar 03, 2009 Stephanie is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
The writer seems to one of those modern guys who loves to use "fuck" and scandalous characters like a little kid who is enjoying say bad words. It just feels like a desperate attempt to make his writing "edgy."
Jenn
Couldn't ask for more from a book -- great writing, great story lines, complex characters. I found myself reading it slowly because I didn't want it to end.
Marty Greenwell
I thought this was really good. Great prose coupled with the emotions of a dysfunctional family setting. Spread from London to St. Petersburg with a glimpse of NYC. Good long chapters relating to one of the character's heroin habits and his eventual death. Like Gabriel and Isabella, the twins who go through many episodes together after their Mother's death. Also the story of the survival of Arkady, a Russian pianist, who emigrates to be able to find $$$ for hid conservatory work. Liked it.
Kirsty Darbyshire
I found it a huge struggle to finish this book. I put it down three times and read the whole of another book instead. If it hadn't have been featured in this year's Booker Prize longlist I don't think I would have bothered picking it up again.

Surprisingly, in the end, my opinion of it was fairly decent mostly because I did enjoy the last 150 odd pages and at that point I couldn't put the book down. If I'd found the first 350 pages as turnable then it would have been much better (obviously).

I jus
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Len
It took my a while to complete Pravda, but not because I didn't like it. In fact, I really liked it. A lot.

One of the things I love about reading in general is that when it's done right it can take you to another world. This was definitely the case with Pravda. Docx paints a portrait of a family that is really caught between two worlds...post-Communist Russia and the western world. This dichotomy is the key to why the main characters in the book, twins Gabriel and Isabella, are each so uncertain
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Amy P.
There are bits and pieces that are true from many comments - yes, it's a bit murky at times, starting a new chapter you need to work a bit to figure out which character it's about - but never more than half a page or so. There are amazing descriptions and writing style that make some of the murky moments more than worth sticking with. I found myself so wanting to figure out the end of the story that I would speed through some of the great descriptions - only to tell myself to slow down, re-read ...more
Monique
So about this book..it has renewed my admiration for Russian authors..in my opinion every nation has a literary specialty--no one crafts a mystery like the British , there is no one comparable in horror than the Europeans (Germans, Swedish) and for descriptive prose its sweet home USA but for well drawn characters that are likeable as much as they are unlikeable and storylines that really make you think Russian authors all day--Just like Dostoyvesky did in Crime and Punishment and the Brothers K ...more
Michelle
It was OK. Probably an English major would wax on about the great paragraphs painting pictures and sentence structure and turns of a phrase.

I thought too many sentences ran on for 4 and 5 lines without really saying much. And if you were to list 3-5 people seen in the park, this author would make the list 10-12. And he did this a number of times. Very distracting.

The story might of been better if you were not drawn down these other trails so often.
Elizabeth
Honestly, i couldn't finish this book. It was very dark and depressing. Even every character had depressive qualities underneath. I noticed halfway through the book, that i did not find the female twin too be realistic, as i sometimes find with female characters written by male authors. Thats when i realized that all of the characters seemed to be the same or very similar in nature.... but then again, i did not finish the book. Had i finished, i may have found this to have an actual purpose?

apa
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Jeff Hanson
Pravda, by Edward Docx is a very dense novel of a fairly well-off, privileged family, who span St. Petersburg, Russia, London, Paris and New York. At times the writing reminded me a lot of Richard Ford, in that it very much gets deeply into the heads of the characters who are sometimes not all that likable. Two adult twins, struggling to find a place in the world or value in their lives, have their lives upturned when their mother dies in St. Petersburg. They find out that she had been visited b ...more
Ferris
Book club selection June 2012......I think this is a marvelous piece of literature! The plot, characters, and writing are all marvelous. I keep a reading journal, in which I include quotes that I like along with interesting ideas from a novel. The list is equally long for this book. Docx starts with the death of a wife, mother, and mystery. He then sets up pairs of characters who play off of each other through a difficult, soul-searching period of their lives. The pairs include twins, two gay lo ...more
Victoria
You have to pity any book forced to follow Midnight's Children on my reading list. While the reviewers quoted on Self Help's back cover made comparisons to Dickens and Dostoevsky, I was making comparisons to Rushdie, and not once did Docx come out on top.

That is emphatically not to say that this is a bad book, or that Docx is not a talented writer. Self Help is a great read, although I didn't agree with the critics regarding Docx's skill at bringing locations to life (unlike Rushdie's India...)
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Holly Troup
After receiving a very distressing phone call from his mother who lives in St Petersburg, Gabriel Glover travels from his home in London to Russia. When he arrives, he finds his mother dead in her apartment. Gabrielle calls his twin sister, Isabelle, who comes from New York to help him. Together, the twins arrange their mother's funeral without contacting their father, Nicholas, a manipulative, licentious bully.....
So begins PRAVDA, in which Edward Docx has distilled the classic Russian novel to
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Carole
This book was hard for me. It dealt with unpleasant subjects and contained rough street language which I really dislike. At the same time, however, this author is a gifted wordsmith, and I kept reading just to come across some of his brilliant descriptions of people and of situations. I was in awe of the author's mind, but disheartened that his worldview is so dismal.

Quote to remember: in speaking about listening to other people's viewpoints, ..."Because otherwise you can't learn anything. Becau
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James
The best book I've read since Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games-a real page turner in the old-fashioned sense. Comparisons to both Dickens and Dostoevsky are not entirely out of bounds, which is saying something.

Also, I was actually a fan of Docx's first novel, The Calligrapher. But this second novel is completely unexpected. Very much like Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex on the heels of The Virgin Suicides--a staggering surprise of a second novel.

Incidentally: I read an awful lot of books, I just don'
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Ann
I did manage to finish this book. Not that it is bad though I skipped some long descriptions so prevalent in Pravda- everything from bits of broken glass and used syringes to the exact detail of slanting sleet. Weather, place, character, mannerisms on and on. If you like that kind of detail and the denouement dumped in the last chapter, then go for it. Billed as heavy on psychology, I didn't get it beyond one has to know where one comes from to figure out where one is going. And who has ever bee ...more
Greynomad
Enjoyed the book but one of the main character's, Gabriel, was a bloody pain in the back side. It got to the point if any chapter was mainly concerning him, I would skip it completely
Gerard Hogan
A dysfunctional family drama (aren't they always!). Not sure Docx brings anything very original to the scenario but he does paint some very vivid pictures with his words and I always wanted to turn the page to see where he was going. He obviously knows London, St Petersburg and Paris intimately and he took us to those places.
The resolution was unremarkable but the journey was worthwhile.
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Edward Docx was born in 1972 in the north of England. He grew up in Cheshire and London. After school, he went to Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he read English Literature and was Junior Common Room President.

He began his professional writing career working on the national newspapers. In 2003, his first novel, The Calligrapher, was published to widespread acclaim. It was selected by the San Fr
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More about Edward Docx...
The Calligrapher The Devil's Garden A Good Man Self Help On Death

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“Childhood: it was like trying to chart an entire continent by the brief flare of a firework. Except that you had no idea that this was your only chance to explore for free, and instead you spent the five seconds of precious light gawping at the sky, stuffing treacle into your mouth. And then it went dark again.” 2 likes
“Half the world is screaming for water and freedom when the other half is ordering cocktails and complaining about the service.” 0 likes
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