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Original Bliss

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  323 ratings  ·  32 reviews
"Kennedy is a world class writer."--The New York Times Book Review

A brilliant American debut from one of Scotland's most acclaimed writers, named by Granta as one of the Twenty Best Young British Novelists.

Emotionally numb, crippled with insomnia, and caught in a frightening, abusive marriage, Helen Brindle believes that God has recently left her. She spends her days perfo
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 25th 2000 by Vintage (first published 1997)
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I don't know when I've read a book of serious fiction where I've been both enchanted with the language and unable to put the book down. This short book I read in a little over a day and that a holiday as well where I was busily taken up with other things.

I'm currently trying not to by new hardbacks so I bypassed Kennedy's new novel, Paradise, for an older novel. It came just as I was packing to leave for my sister's for the holiday. It was small and seemed a likely thing to read on the weekend.
Stephen Durrant
Wow! A love story like no other as my excursions into Scottish literature continue. A.L. Kennedy is daring to be sure. I was captivated by the tension in this novel between God and kink, with a strange compromise found in the end. The two main characters are unforgettable: one a repressed, abused, unhappy housewife mourning her loss of a sense of God; the other a self-help guru who also happens to be something of a compulsive pornography addict. Through all the feelings of disgust and shame, a t ...more
Vanessa Wu
I have chosen to mention this book for several reasons.

1. I have it open on my bed.

2. Today I read A.L. Kennedy's blog in The Guardian and was struck by her disdain for marketing her own books. Let me do it for you, Alison, I need the practice.(See footnote).

3. We are always told that people don't buy short stories. Ahem! I bought these short stories. That proves something, doesn't it? I would rather read Original Bliss than all her other books put together. Or even just Everything You Need.

I liked this and I didn't like it. Trying to write a review for this book has proved particularly difficult (this is my third attempt). Kennedy again proves adept at creating unique, damaged, and undeniably human characters. However, unlike Paradise (a later novel), the characters here were harder for me to get a grasp on. Particularly Helen Brindle. Perhaps it's my own difficulty in understanding how someone could be THAT devoted to their own faith.
I guess what matters is that I was drawn in a
Peter Dunn
I picked this up as I have enjoyed A.L.Kennedy’s writing and this was another A.L.Kennedy so it seemed like a good warned a spoiler follows in the next paragraph but the very same spoiler is in the Amazon book description above.

While it’s not my normal cup of tea in a book I was prepared for the sexual encounters as they are clearly referenced in the blurb on the back. I was also prepared for those encounters to probably all have some sort of bleakness hanging over them as this is A
I have wanted to read a book by Scottish writer A. L. Kennedy for some time. Kennedy has won a number of literary awards, and her books consistently receive excellent reviews internationally.
Original Bliss is a novel of love, madness and redemption. The protagonist, Helen Brindle, is neurotic and emotionally barren after having lost her religious faith. Suffering beatings from her husband, she both withdraws further into herself and, fighting that withdrawal, seeks relief in one self-help book a
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
Stati di stupore

racconti buffi, strani, poco incisivi ma insinuanti, di quelli che un po' strisciano alle spalle e ti colpiscono poi, magari mentre sei là che sbucci le cipolle te ne ricordi e ti dici: ah però...
tranne l'ultimo che invece non insinua nulla, semmai urla ad alta voce che la religione è un virus della comunicazione e che spesso le persone devono farsi male prima di accettare di amarsi...bello, ma tosto
Okay, I confess: I only discovered and read this as one of the characters in one of my favourite films is seen reading it.

(Apparently each character's choice of book adds further insight into the film and their 'history' - I will be reading the other two books!)
This is a book of short stories, all featuring, to some degree, a strong sexual element. The final story, the longest one, saved the book for me really. The writing was lovely and the dialogue clever, but I suppose I didn't really feel as
Mrs. Brindle has lost God. This was a relationship she relied upon heavily. Her days post the loss are spent on pointless domestic duties (she hates) like ironing socks or seeking out creative and complicated recipes to make for her husband. Her nights are spent wide awake lying on the floor in front of the TV seeking company, not education or information. It is here on late night TV that she first sees Professor Edward Gluck, who has a self-help process she decides to try. It is here that their ...more
Edward S. Portman
Stati di grazia è una raccolta di racconti, ma a fine lettura quello che ti rimarrà impresso sarà l’ultimo, Stati di grazia appunto che da il titolo a tutto il libro. È una sorta di romanzo breve, a cui sono stati affiancati altri racconti decisamente più corti. I primi possono essere accostabili a una specie di preparazione in vista al vero impegno di lettura, anche se è apprezzabile la scelta di non dare alle stampe un semplice racconto lungo. Non fraintendetemi, tutti i racconti sono degli ot ...more
C.B. Wentworth
Helen has lost God and punishes herself by staying in an abusive marriage, while Edward is trapped in his own bad habit of self-abuse. Both are looking for a savior in all the wrong places until they meet each other. A.L. Kennedy explores an unorthodox courtship between a battered woman and porn addicted man with heartbreaking honesty and humor. Helen and Edward's relationship is one that reminds us how important it is to have patience, acceptance, and forgiveness (both of the self and for other ...more
Mar 16, 2015 Jess rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jess by: Women's lit class
The less said about this book before reading, the better. I just know it's one of the only really convincing love stories I've read in a long time and that the ending made my cry like a baby for reasons that not even I can explain.

The main character is refreshingly witty and painstakingly complex, the sort of character sunk so deep into pain that I cannot imagine how hard it would be to write her and break her down. After meeting Edward, a self-help guru with a painful sexual addiction that brin
Helen is an abused wife who believes that her beloved God has abandoned her. Edward is the male version of Oprah who obsessively masturbates. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right? It is, actually. Somehow, these two find solace in each other, and reading about how they battle their demons kept me up til 2 a.m. to finish the story.

It's a very quick read. The novel is only about 150-200 pages and I read it within 24 hours. The writing style is sharp and quick, like pulling off a Band-Aid. Ver
Guillermo Jiménez
Una obra esperanzadora en un mundo atribulado por la información sexual cada diez pasos, un mundo mediatizado y bombardeado por falsos profetas y gurús de tercera que aprovechan la soledad que encierra a una humanidad que apunta hacia los suicidios colectivos, y además, un texto que rebasa con creces las relaciones amorosas, vistas desde la perspectiva de lo funcional, de lo práctico que es estar acompañado, de tener a alguien a tu lado de quien depender y para quien corresponder atenciones reci ...more
Katie M.
I read So I Am Glad: A Novel ages ago and remember it as odd and sweet and moving. After years of vaguely meaning to read another A.L. Kennedy I finally picked up this one, and had exactly the same reaction to it. It's sort of about God and domestic violence and porn addiction but it's actually about two people who don't believe they are deserving of love and what happens when they meet. And it's just lovely.
i wish i could give three and half stars. after a somewhat tedious 50 pages, the story finally begins to pick up and i finally started to care about the characters. from it's boring start it quickly segues into some very disturbing sexual content. there is violence in this book, but what i was so imperssed with, was kennedy's ability to turn some very despicable behavior on its head and to get me to like and root for these people. it's a very unlikely love story, but maybe that's why it was so s ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I was thinking about how much I liked this novel the other day and how that fondness is akin to what I feel for the movie "Secretary." Both challenged my definitions of love and both had a deep tenderness for those who find that love in unconventional places. Kennedy is a fierce writer and not everyone's cup of tea -- I don't often recommend for that reason. But she's also brilliant and a remarkable technician, IMHO, and this is perhaps my favorite of the half dozen I've read.
Feb 13, 2012 Maria rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maria by: My Librarian
Hm. Dieses Buch wurde mir von der sehr netten Antiquariatsdame empfohlen und ja, es war durchaus in Ordnung. Allerdings eben nicht so toll, dass ich es nochmal lesen würde, also: es war so mittel. Nette Geschichte, gut erzählt, angenehme Prosa, nicht seicht oder billig.
Aber am Ende war mir die "Moral von der Geschicht" denn doch etwas einfach: zwei Menschen finden die Wahre Liebe und das löst am Ende all ihre seelischen Probleme. Naja.
Ryan Williams
Collection of prickly funny stories and a sublime novella. This is still probably my favourite Kennedy, and - despite all the wierdness - the title piece is still one of the most tender things committed to print I have ever read. She's a funnier writer than people give her credit for, too - like Beckett, Kennedy knows few things are funnier than unhappiness.

Her novels are well worth reading too, perhaps with the exception of The Blue Book.
Original Bliss was different, I am still not sure if I liked it or not. Edward was strange and Helen was almost pathetic, but I could not help liking her. The sex scenes were pornographic, so those who do not like graphic "sexual" detail should not read Original Bliss. It was a unique love story.
Diana Higgins
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An abused wife and a self-help guru who is a pornography addict meet and fall in love. This odd relationship is beautifully, if sparsely, drawn as Kennedy reveals this awkward relationship.
Camilla P.
Se volete leggere la mia recensione, basta cliccare sul link :)


June anne
first foray into A L Kennedy - been meaning to for ages - watch this space...

Well, now that I've read it - found it slightly disturbing and not hugely satisfying
Sep 21, 2007 Elisascalise rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: kat
A book full of contradiction; both what you love and hate most about humans. Deals with some harsh subject matter without being melodramatic. Really like it.
Mar 28, 2015 Barbara marked it as gave-up-on  ·  review of another edition
Auch nach der Hälfte keinerlei Interesse daran gefunden, abgebrochen und in den Bücherschrank gestellt.
A lopsided love affair, and well-written, but I didn't emotionally connect as others have.
Nothing short of life-altering. This book is BY FAR, the best thing I've ever read "for school!!!"
Purposefully stuttering prose crafty, but too far-fetched in an unpleasant way.
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Alison Louise Kennedy (born 22 October 1965 in Dundee) is a Scottish writer of novels, short stories and non-fiction. She is known for a characteristically dark tone, a blending of realism and fantasy, and for her serious approach to her work. She occasionally contributes columns and reviews to UK and European newspapers including the fictional diary of her pet parrot named Charlie.
More about A.L. Kennedy...
Paradise Day Everything You Need The Blue Book So I Am Glad: A Novel

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“You can look at the words on this paper and, because they are the ones I am used to choosing, they will show you the shape of me. I am here to be read in the way you might read the impression of my weight in a bed after a still night, a restless night, a night not alone.” 10 likes
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