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3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  203 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Beauty—in both name and appearance—is a 20-year-old Bangladeshi, returned toEngland after having disgraced her family by fleeing an abusive arranged marriage. Forced onto the job-hunter’s treadmill and under extreme domestic pressure, she cracks and runs away. Her encounters with officialdom, fellow claimants, and strangers in the city streets, complicated by the restricti ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Tindal Street Press (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 387)
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Jan 20, 2012 Garrie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I'd had this book on the shelf for a while and kept putting off reading it as it reeked of middle class guilt and 'right on' liberalism, which couldn't have been further from the truth. Mr Selbourne was the first author on the writing course that I'm currently on and read from his début novel and answered questions about it and writing in general, which was just what I needed to get it off the shelf and give it a go.

The book is concerned with Beauty, a young Muslim girl and Mark, someone who app
Natalia Pì
May 04, 2015 Natalia Pì rated it really liked it
Shelves: immigration, asia, uk
picked up by chance at the free bookshelf, i liked this book very much.

the story of a bangladeshi girl who leaves home to avoid a forced marriage, and find three unlikely characters who will help her on her way to finding her own path to follow. i was surprised by the ending, to be honest.
i liked the author's description of daily life in an English non-descript town, they're very accurate and vivid. the characters are well-rounded and realistic, and they develop during the story, as does the s
Overall, I’ve been quite blown away by this book and this is the stand-out best piece of fiction I have read in while.

‘Beauty’ is a story of contemporary contrasts and explores the layers of society in British life. Beauty herself is a young Bangladeshi woman who is fighting against the harsh doctrines of Muslim culture laid down by her family. In escaping them, metaphorically and physically, Beauty is rescued by and finds solace with a white male member of the UK underclass – a yob, a Chav and
Aug 05, 2014 Jericha rated it really liked it
A really pleasant surprise, this one. It's always a pleasure when characters behave in ways that are both unexpected and yet at the same time true to their nature as it's been set up by the author - no one conforms to stereotype, and yet the book isn't ostentatiously defying stereotypes either. Selbourne seems to have thought through the full reality of each of his characters in a way I find impressive, so that they really seem like people, not illustrations for a tidy narrative about East meets ...more
Jul 30, 2011 Rachel added it
This is a very, very good book. Believable characters and a story that makes you think. It's got a deft ending too...
Cynthia Kane
Aug 15, 2010 Cynthia Kane rated it it was amazing
A surprise and a delight!
Kate Millin
Jun 19, 2011 Kate Millin rated it liked it
I found the theme of the story in this book challenging and thought provoking - especially the fact that you shouldn't judge people by how they look but by how they behave.However, I found the writing style annoying, especially at the beginning, and this made the book difficult for me to get really into for some time - it was the story that kept me going. Interesting for me as well is the fact that this is set in Wolverhampton where I currently live. I did find the fact that it was written by a ...more
Apr 28, 2011 Ali rated it really liked it
Set against the less than glamorous urban landscape of Wolverhampton, Beauty is a gritty, fast paced novel, well written with authentic characters. The voices, complete with Wolverhampton accent are distinct and strong. Raphael Selbourne's Wolverhampton is realistic and tough, the communities portrayed have difficult lives, little money and few opportunities.

Beauty Begum is a young woman from a Bangladeshi family, on the run from an arranged marriage to a much older man. In her flight she is hel
Jan 20, 2012 Kali rated it really liked it
I don't think I realised, when I picked up this book, that it was set in Woolverhampton. That, or I forgot, sometime between picking it up and reading it. Either way, I was quite pleased to find that it described an area and people that I knew.

The book is told is third person, but skips between viewpoints of various different characters, in a looking-over-the-shoulder kind of way. Beauty is one of them, a Bangladeshi girl who meets Mark on a course they're both sent on by the jobcentre. The two
Apr 15, 2010 Alan rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, read-in-2010
was given this at my writer's group, and walked home in the rain (4 miles) with it. It's now warped to buggery.
Still readable though..
...actually it's dried out quite nicely, hardly a warp at all...

read this on the beach at Newquay (went for a 60th booze up at the Headland Hotel), and it was sunny! 14 degrees!

A fast, stimulating read about a Bengali girl who runs away from home/arranged marriage and gets help from an England shirt wearing/ dog breeding ex con, and his on-his-uppers middle clas
Mar 28, 2010 Sam rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2010
Beauty starts off slowly and a bit confusingly, but once I got past page 30, I finished the novel within the next 24 hours. It may seem like just another novel in the line of White Teeth or Brick Lane, but Selbourne does something different with the discussion of welfare and government assistance. Credit is due to Selbourne for not romanticizing the poor, which is a trend I fully expected after the success of the movie Slumdog Millionaire. All of the four main characters were well-written and de ...more
Barbara Guner
This book, a story about a 19 year old Bengali girl, who runs away from her abusive family who want to force her into marriage, reminds me a bit of Trainspotting. It is very raw, and rough, and all about the inner-city life, complete with the accents. It describes Asian culture, and Wolverhampton white trash culture and is quite crude at times. However the story reads easily and gets better and better, and personally I enjoyed the ending.
Allie Fellows
Oct 18, 2012 Allie Fellows rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
I think I must have read a different book from the other reviewers! I lived in the area in which the book is set for twenty years and in Wolverhampton for forty years. Throughout the first few chapters I was alternately distracted and annoyed by the inaccurate geography and the woeful attempt to capture the Wolverhampton accent compounded by irritating phonetic spelling. It was not representative of the place I knew and I was left wondering if the if the author had ever even BEEN to Wolverhampto ...more
Erica Hudson
Apr 20, 2015 Erica Hudson marked it as to-read
I registered a book at!
I didn't like anything much about this book-the characters annoyed me, the plot bored me and the story was depressing. A few reviewers said that it paints a realistic portrayal of English life in a crap town-well if that is true then I never want to live anywhere as soul destroying as that or meet such dreadful people as this book showed me. The only laugh I got was the amusing dialogue when the guy was yelling at his dog-the way it was written amused me but sadly I can't say that it saved the b ...more
Jul 29, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: south_asia
Raphael Selbourne managed to create an amazing cast, with believable characters you actually care about. For this reason I found it very hard to put down the book and always wanted to know what's about to happen next. The only thing I'm a bit dissatisfied with is the ending, I think it comes a bit too abruptly and isn't quite up there with the rest of the book. I think I'd have preferred a more open ending, instead of one that tries to resolve everything in just a few pages.
Melyssa Williams
I didn't even plan on finishing this book but had it with me at the pool while my kids swam for two hours, so I kept on reading. The profanity was too much for me, but I was surprised to find how much I liked the ending and how much I ended up caring for the characters. A harsh read, but a satisfying ending.
Mar 15, 2010 Julie rated it liked it
When I began to read this book, I had a sinking feeling that it was going to be a bit sloppy and trite. It wasn't. It focuses on several interesting characters in the West Midlands, including Beauty, a young Muslim woman who has defied her parents' choice of an arranged marriage. It's a worthwhile read.
Monalisa Mazumdar
Jan 21, 2011 Monalisa Mazumdar rated it really liked it
This is a good read with a strong storyline. Although, it did feel more like reading a documentary of a 20 yr old bangladeshi girl iin UK, rather than fiction. The whole book is a span of 10 days, I did feel like I came to the end too soon. Nicely written, but Too much bangladeshi words.
Pat Osment
Sep 08, 2015 Pat Osment rated it liked it
A fairly good read and the ending was quite unexpected.I,m sure the dialogue was written in the style to set the scene but I found it so annoying I almost skim read some of it.One to make you think about the plight of Muslim women though.
Sep 17, 2010 Michelle rated it really liked it
I picked this up from the "new books" shelf at the library. I wasn't sure I liked the characters at first, but they grew on me and kept me interested. I read it within a few days, and wished there was more when I got to the end.
May 22, 2010 Elaine rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-finished, 2010
Oops, left this one at a hotel half way through. But it wasn't very good. A lot of ham handed dialogue and a bit slow to get off the ground.
Mar 03, 2011 Gina rated it liked it
2009 Costa First Novel

A look at the life of a Bengali immigrant to the UK, and what she does to change it into the way she wants to live.
Biggaletta Day
Dec 22, 2013 Biggaletta Day rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 19, 2015 Val rated it liked it
Shelves: temp
A young woman caught between two cultures can see advantages and disadvantages in both.
May 13, 2013 Erica rated it liked it
Almost stopped reading it but it ended up being good.
wow. bummer.
Phoebe rated it really liked it
Aug 13, 2016
Becky rated it it was ok
Aug 02, 2016
Onyx marked it as to-read
Aug 01, 2016
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