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Last Orders

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  7,742 ratings  ·  249 reviews
Winner of the 1996 Booker Prize, and now a major new film starring Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren and Michael Caine. Four men once close to Jack Dodds, a London butcher, meet to carry out his peculiar last wish: to have his ashes scattered into the sea. For reasons best known to herself, Jack's widow, Amy, declines to join them. On the surface the tale of a simple if increasing ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 7th 2001 by Picador (first published January 1st 1996)
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Booker Prize Winners
30th out of 50 books — 1,374 voters
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The James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction
13th out of 104 books — 27 voters

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Community Reviews

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What a beautiful, beautiful book. Graham Swift has got to be one of the greatest writers of our generation. This is not a large book, but one should take his time reading to savor his language, his great skill in crafting amazingly simple stories of everyday people. Swift brings his characters--in this book, butchers, junk dealers, used car salesmen, funeral directors, housewives--great dignity.

Four friends set out to scatter the ashes of a mutual friend, at his request. Not an original plot de
Jane Odgers

Jack Arthur Dodds (deceased) - "Dodds and Son Family Butcher, since 1903".
Vince Dodds (Vincent Ian Pritchett) - "son" of Jack and Amy. "Dodds' Autos"
Ray "Lucky" Johnson - "...if you want to put a bet on, he's your man".
Lenny Tate, Grocer - "Gunner Tate, middleweight. Always pissed. Always late".
Vic Tucker, Funeral Director - " your disposal".
Amy Dodds - Jack's wife, mother of June (mentally disabled). " was hop picking that started it....It's all pickings."
Mandy Black -
This begins: “It ain’t like your regular sort of day.” Not exactly “Call me Ishmael” but you have to start somewhere. A little workshoppy, but there’s some promise there. Perhaps it could turn into a one-day, colloquial journey through themes and characters.

But then again, maybe not. In a few brisk chapters we have encountered (the word met suggests more purchase than we are given) Ray, Jack, Sue, Sally, Vince, Vic, Lenny, Amy, Bernie, Brenda, Joan, Mandy, Carol and Charlie. Was there any need t
I won't describe the plot here. You can find that in the Goodreads description. I will make some observations, among them my idea that, whether by design or not, LAST ORDERS is Joycean. It is also accessible. The reason I think it may not be a conscious imitation of Joyce is that I suspect Joyce, fundamental innovator though he was, wrote in a tradition. Somebody once said you could go to any bar in Dublin and hear the sort of conversations you'd read in ULYSSES. Graham Swift's Englishmen (and w ...more
"I'd like to be all kinds of people....but I can't because I'm me....I don't want to be like me, I want to be like them but I can't I can't I can't."

It took me about one third of the book to straighten out the characters in my mind. I was thinking I should go back and re-read the beginning, but now I think it was better that all the stories were jumbled and then clarified. Or somewhat clarified. The characters themselves have not sorted out their relationships or their pasts either.

Each short ch
Aug 30, 2014 Rob rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
We live in the present and the past. I have only realized the last few years that time is not linear. We are constantly dipping in and out of the past, the present and the future. We are living it all at the same time.

Graham Swift has written a complex book that tries to blend this truth with the other truth that "our" stories are not solely ours. We are part of history, of communities and families. Our inner worlds bump up against others and our inner worlds are shaped by historical forces.

carri farrand
let's stop in for a pint. jack would've wanted it. jack would've expected it.

This book made me cry. Seriously. So you know that it is going straight to the list of best reads of the year. For real. Which is surprising because the narrative structure of the book is one that I typically don't like. The story is told from a multiperspectival point of view, with chapters being named for the person who is narrating that chapter, or, from where the events in the chapter are taking place, in which case Ray is the narrator. This isn't my favorite narrative style, but for this st ...more
This was a wonderful elegant, so real. The story moves back and forth between past and present, from character to character. Most of the time, for me, this doesn't work very well. It takes a talented writer to be able to pull this off so that the reader can follow along without confusion and so the story doesn't break up and fall apart. Graham Swift is a success in every way. He beautifully captures the feelings, thoughts, and dreams of each and every character. The relationships betwe ...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Unfortunately I couldn't connect to this book..the language, the words, the English working class just could not engage with my 2011's mind in any way.
This is Swift's Booker Prize-winning novel from 1996. Some have noted similarities between it and Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, but that does not detract from its quality which has been evident in Swift's writing since his earlier success with Waterland (a novel that was short-listed for the Booker). While I found it a bit slow at first, it eventually evolved into a captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after ...more
As with Waterland, Swift has, again, bypassed my brain and gone straight for my heart; that is, I felt this rather than understood it. And, as with Waterland, I'd feel dishonest giving it four stars but don't doubt that it'll get there on a second reading. He has a real talent for making the mundane beautiful.

I have been close to encountering this story twice in my life. I distinctly remember nearly buying it back in the 90's based purely on the (pint glass) cover, but this was probably more due
An apparent homage to Faulkner's 'As I lay Dying', a long drawn out funeral entourage is used to outline in falshback the entangled lives of a group of Londoners and their relationship with the dead man, Jack Dodds, whose ashes they are carrying to be scattered on the sea at Margate.
The writng style is plain, reflecting the austerity of the post war setting of a lot of the reminiscence. The story is engaging and was made into a star studded film and yet someting about the book does not quite wo
I feel the need with this review to point out that my rating has to do with how much I enjoyed the book/how much I got out of it rather than how I would rate the book as a piece of literature, capable of standing the test of time, etc. This is a technically accomplished novel, interesting characterization, but it just didn't do it for me. It was too straightforward with the narrative to interest me on that score and the characters created, while feeling quite true to life with all their faults a ...more
I listened to the amazing audiobook version of this (on cassette, no less). Multiple narrators helped to make the frequently-shifting perspectives easier to keep track of while listening. I don't know that one narrator could have really managed it. The book centers on a group of men (and a couple of wives given occasional voice) as they travel together to release the ashes of one of their own. The perspective shifts between the characters and the time frame shifts between the present-day journey ...more
Kathy Ahn
Four grown men and the follies of their lives and relationships, and the love that ties and keeps them all together. They carry the ashes around from the bar to the meadows to the cathedral and to the end of a dirty old pier and each tells his own story along the way.

It's an easy read, but read the first 50 pages straight through or else you'll get confused about who's who like I did and have to re-read them. The relationships are complex and interwoven and riddled with deceit and disappointment
Sunaina Khurana
Meh. Don't get me wrong. The writer is really good. He has to be to be able to get into the skin of so many characters and portray them so distinctively. The plot is interesting too ... or could've been, if it were less convoluted with so many breaks for each character's narrative. But that's just it. It took me halfway down the book to get a grip on the story and the way it ended left me wondering what the point was. And throughout I couldn't wait to get over with it to go on to the next book. ...more
This is a deceptively simple novel. On its face it tells the tale of four Englishmen honoring the last wishes of a deceased buddy. The deceptive part is that through an adroit use of dialect and an insightful presentation of the lives of these men, and their related women, we get a rich psycho-sociological snapshot of the English zeitgeist of the late 20th C. This book apparently caused a stir in some quarters with charges about the author's sources, and some charges of being hackneyed. Don't kn ...more
Graham Swift este unul dintre cei mai apreciați romancieri contemporani din Marea Britanie. Publicistica sa este demnă de urmărit, opt romane și un volum de nuvele intitulat Learning to swim (1982). Este primul roman pe care l-am citit de Swift (Graham, nu Jonathan! ) și, după două zile de savurat, afirm clar și răspicat că o să-i ”vânez” cele opt romane. Omul merită să fie citit și are cu ce să te întâmpine la nivel emoțional și psihologic.

Romanul spune povestea unei prietenii frumoase și durab
This is one of those books where I could not decide if I like it until after I had finished reading it and thought about the book. It took me some time to get used to the language and Swift's style of writing. The book is told in various characters point of view. This actually was what I enjoyed most about the book. There are a lot of characters and people to keep track of. It took me some time to figure out who everyone was in relation to other characters in the book. In the end, I liked it but ...more
Perry Whitford
A group of friends get together shortly after a funeral in order to act out the final wish of the recently deceased, one Jack Dodds, Master Butcher, which was to scatter his ashes off of Margate Pier. As you would expect, the mourners have a tangled past together, full of shared and separate secrets, life-long grievances and regrets.
Begun during WWII and cemented over the decades, much of the time spent down 'the Coaches' in Bermondsey over a few pints, the friends' lives have impacted on each
Lovely story about four men who take their mate Jack's ashes to be scattered. Each chapter is written by one of the characters, including Jack and towards the end by Jacks' wife Amy. Jack and Amy have had only the one daughter who was born so disabled she has lived her life in a home and has never spoken.

All of the characters are very likeable - maybe not Vince the adopted son who is a car salesman - and they have lived simple, honest lives but as humans they all have their flaws. The reflexions
Sara Van Dyck
When Bernie, the landlord of the pub, rings a bell at the end of the evening, it signals “last orders,” the last time to order a drink. “Last orders” can also refer to the directions Jack has left for the disposal of his remains. And I like to modify the words and think that “last ordering” could mean what the characters in the story do as they grow old - come to terms with their past, make amends, accept what they’ve made of their lives, or even turn a corner. Sex has tangled many of their rela ...more
Notcathy J
Cathy wrote: "won the Booker Prize the week after I stole it out of a box full of comps." (She was working at the UT co-op bookstore, I think. Or else Borders.)
Электронная книга подчас означает, что читаешь все, что не приколочено: так в моих руках оказался роман Грэма Свифта. Я пыталась освободиться от липких пут ностальгии и "светлой печали", которыми щедро связывает читателя Бетти Смит, и в итоге попала в яму с тем же самым добром, разве что вырытую не милым ребенком, а унылыми английскими работягами.

В прямом смысле старые друзья собрались, чтобы развеять прах бывшего товарища над морем. У них есть шикарный автомобиль, немного денег и очень много эм
Deserving winner of the Booker Prize, this book is an intricately woven story of four men journeying to carry out the last orders of their friend Jack Dodd's wish that his ashes be delivered to the sea. The story is a symphony of the mens' voices, and his absent widow. This book is a masterwork of secret sorrow, resentment, passion, comedy, honesty, and ultimate loyalty and love. Rarely does a book so artfully speak of the abiding truth of life and death, of the human need for tenderness. You wi ...more
This book is a walk down memory lane for me, a personal road trip to the past. It was wonderful! Margate pier, the jetty and I have a personal relationship. I remember walking up the (metal and wood) jetty as a child, feeling slightly scared looking at the waves through the boards, feeling slightly adventurous. I have walked up that stone jetty with the smells of tar and rope, seaweed and saltwater, watching the boats bobbing in the harbour, the lifeboat and the lighthouse at the end. When the j ...more
Jan 09, 2009 Yofish rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Yofish by: From a movie
Shelves: read-fiction
Framed around four guys going to spread the ashes of a dead friend. (It was his 'last orders' to them to do this.) Three are drinking buddies/business friends/army buddies with the dead guy. (The fourth is sort of an adopted son.) Each chapter (short) is told from the perspective of one of them, or sometimes someone's wife. Some are about the actual trip--where they are, why they're there--and some are reminisces about the past. We learn about the conflicts between the adopted son and the dead g ...more
In a way, the plot of Last Orders is very simple: a group of friends drive to the coast to scatter the ashes of their friend Jack. Yes, that's it. Along the way they have arguments and fights and endless pints of beer, but none of that is really the point. The real action of this book takes place in the past, appropriately enough for a novel about scattering ashes. These are old men remembering not only Jack but also their own former selves.

There are lots of lies and secrets and betrayals, but m
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Graham Colin Swift FRSL (born May 4, 1949) is a British author. He was born in London, England and educated at Dulwich College, London, Queens' College, Cambridge, and later the University of York. He was a friend of Ted Hughes.

Some of his works have been made into films, including Last Orders, which starred Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins and Waterland which starred Jeremy Irons. Last Orders was a
More about Graham Swift...
Waterland The Light of Day Wish You Were Here Tomorrow Ever After

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