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Notwithstanding: Stories from an English Village

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  1,494 Ratings  ·  205 Reviews
Welcome to the village of Notwithstanding, where a lady dresses in plus fours and shoots squirrels, a retired general gives up wearing clothes altogether, a spiritualist lives in a cottage with the ghost of her husband, and people think it quite natural to confide in a spider that lives in a potting shed. Based on de Bernières' recollections of the village he grew up in, N ...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published May 6th 2010 by Vintage (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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Petra Eggs
Sweet little book about a sweet little boy growing up in a sweet little olde English village full of ye olde English eccentrics both of the 'arrr I be's a peasant' to retired old colonel types. Life goes on with scarcely any changes for the modern era or even death.

'Sweet' here is like 'nice'. Good but not that good, just a bit better than middling. Worth reading if you haven't got anything better to do and one or two stories are outstanding but nowhere does it approach the genius of Captain Co
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Diane S ☔
Oct 14, 2016 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition




Absolutely delightful. Recollection of his life in the village he grew up, more a collection of vignettes than linked stories, each a glimpse of the wonderful characters that live within. A young boy, Robert who befriend an injured loon, nun who are such had drivers the villagers know to stay put of their way, a pit man, a mole man, an older gent losing his marbles who often forgets to put on his pants. Amusing, sad, humorous and all wonderful. An amazing amount of dogs, cats who specialize, you
...more
Fabian
Jan 22, 2017 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of maestro de Bernieres later efforts, it contains mere sprinkles of his added element, that is magical realism a-la Britanica, and not the dollops that we are used to, such as in his lauded Latin American trilogy or his most famous novel, "Corelli's Mandolin."

It is tough, though, not to feel a smidgeon of disappointment because of this. This is like flat out perusing though sketches by Picasso at some dank gallery in Ft. Lauderdale, NOT like watching his masterworks stab you in the heart. T
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Chrissie
I don't love short stories so I was hesitant to try this, but here we are presented with interconnected short stories about inhabitants of a small English village, so I figured it was worth a try! While the stories are interconnected in that the same characters reappear in the different tales, the book cannot be viewed as anything but a collection of diverse anecdotes; it lacks the cohesiveness of a novel.

This book is a commentary on life in a small British village grounded on the author’s reme
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Sandy
Dec 01, 2010 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Notwithstanding is like a book of favourite poems to be read again and again. There is so much to this little book, so much heart and insight that you will be thinking of its characters and its truths long after you have put it down.

Beautifully written, it's the life of a country village with all its quirks and eccentrics from "the last peasant", Archie the obsessive black retriever, to the lady who wears plus-fours and shoots squirrels with a 12-bore and to those who talk to George the spider.
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Mary Lins
Sep 06, 2016 Mary Lins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete


"The England that the English used to love, when England was still loved by the English."

"Notwithstanding", a collection of interconnected short stories, by Louis de Bernieres, is an utter delight! Almost every story could begin with "Once upon a time..." This is the kind of book you want to read between "tomes", much like the stories of Alexander McCall Smith. Immerse yourself in Notwithstanding village and "The England that the English used to love, when England was still loved by the English
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Aneta
Jun 30, 2016 Aneta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I have just come back from a short holiday in Notwithstanding. I simply loved this book and I do feel quite refreshed upon finishing it. In the afterword of the book, I have found what I already know will be one of my favourite quotes, and one of those the best describing British (in my foreign view anyway). The best thing about it is that it is the Briton's comment about the Brits (despite his very misleading French surname):
"Britain really is an immense lunatic asylum. We have a ve
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Matt
Jul 24, 2011 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After being supremely disappointed by A Partisan's Daughter, I was very pleasantly surprised by de Bernières' latest offering. Perhaps because many of the short stories in this collection were written years ago and published elsewhere, they felt as if they fit in the same vein as the South American trilogy and Captain Corelli's Mandolin. This is a good thing. In Notwithstanding, de Bernières has seemingly recaptured his form and the reader is treated to an intoxicating blend of the mystical and ...more
Laurie
Oct 10, 2016 Laurie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘Notwithstanding’ is the name of a mythical English village, the name picked because the village life is notwithstanding. A set of interconnected stories show us the lives of the various village eccentrics as their way of life dies off. Some have the feel of fairy tale or fable; others are vignettes. Several characters show up multiple times; the most common is the boy Robert, who rescues and rehabilitates injured and orphaned birds, including a talking rook named Lizzie, and catches a legendary ...more
Sam
Oct 15, 2016 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
I will begin with stating that I have never read anything by de Bernières, I am American, and I am just thirty years old. So the appeal of Notwithstanding in terms of its nostalgia and mirror to a part of England's past in its more provincial areas completely eludes me. I happened to come across this title, and it generally is not something to my taste or interest, so I didn't expect it to do much for me.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the detailed, woven stories of the inhabitants of N
...more
Melori
May 12, 2016 Melori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nečekaně báječné!
Elizabeth
Feb 09, 2017 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I originally picked up this book because de Bernieres' quote in Captain Corelli's Mandolin about love and the difference between love and being in love was (and, if I'm being honest, remains) one of my favorites. Then I saw The Guardian's review on the cover - "Reading this collection is rather like being wrapped in a tartan blanket and handed a nice mug of cocoa" - and I was sold.

Probably unsurprisingly, I highly recommend snuggling up with these stories about the villagers of Notwithstanding.
...more
Eric
Feb 13, 2017 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Always a sucker for anything from Louis de Bernieres. This is such a charming collection. Sort of an English Lake Wobegone, filled with humour and pathos. Love the characters and I especially enjoy the little references buried in one story, referring to another. Another favorite is the recurring "sight" gag of the ditchman, forever scrutinizing his latest find. This is a gem and just what I needed in these turbulent times.
Linden
Dec 16, 2016 Linden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Linked stories of an English village set mostly in the 1960's, with quite a nostalgic tone. Characters appear and reappear, not always chronologically. Quite touching and worth rereading.
Veronica
Feb 16, 2011 Veronica rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I didn't buy this book for myself -- it was a present. And I bristled when I glanced at a few GR reviews which said, "If you liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, you'll like this." Ugh. I'd also tried and failed to read Captain Corelli's Mandolin some years ago.

Verdict: don't read this book at one sitting, or you'll feel sick from an overdose of cute. But for dipping into, reading one or two stories at a time, I enjoyed it. It may seem overly fey, but actually if you've lived
...more
in_essence
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Alumine Andrew
Aug 25, 2014 Alumine Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favourite
This is one of my favourite authors and so I'm not surprised to have loved this, his latest novel. A Frenchman once pointed out to de Bernieres that Britain was the most exotic country in Europe and this sent him off on a journey of recollection. He grew up in what people call an idyllic country village which is in fact a community of eccentric people and landscape. He says in the afterword " On reflection I realised that I had set so many of my novels and stories abroad, because custom had prev ...more
S.P. Moss
May 28, 2016 S.P. Moss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a confession to make: I spent my childhood in the late 60s and early 70s about half-an-hour's drive away from the fictitious village of Notwithstanding's real-life inspiration (Wormley, south of Guildford and the Hog's Back.) So I was pre-disposed to enjoy these tales of a lost world of rhododendrons, shillings and English eccentrics.

'Notwithstanding' is a collection of inter-linked stories about the inhabitants of an English village: human, furred and feathered. Set mainly in the mid 20t
...more
Becca
If you want an accurate description of 'Middle England' then this is it. I originally picked this up from the library and read it in a day, but then went out to by a physical copy because I knew I'd read it over and over again! This is the most charming book you could possibly find on a bookshelf. It tells the story of English village Notwithstanding, through a series of different stories from the various inhabitants. What I like a lot about this book is that De Bernieres didn't feel the need to ...more
Richard Newton
At first I thought this was rather a light weight book, but it is the cumulative effect of all of the episodes that create its effect. The quality of the stories is not consistent, but they are all enjoyable. The book reaches its peak with several stories in the middle such as "footprint in the snow", "the happy death of the general" and at the end with "the broken heart" and "the death of miss Agatha Feakes". I thought "Rabbit" especially good. There are a couple stories of a lower standard, bu ...more
Judy
Jan 29, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of short stories, essays really, about a village in Surrey where the author grew up. One might well say, oh yes, very nice, but more of the same. In a way they are; it's an English village, after all. What sets it aside, though, is the author's gift for describing both the most commonplace and the most eccentric characters imaginable, with the utmost charm. While each story tells about a particular incident, people and past events weave through them all in a manner that is p ...more
Jane Routley
Jan 27, 2012 Jane Routley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: laughed, lit-fic
A quiet little book, very charming, possibly a little twee but an object lesson in how to make small things fascinating. De Berneires has a lovely spare style that doesn't make itself too obvious. Easy to read but as they are short stories (even if they all feed into each other) they are better read over a series of short sittings like train journeys. He aims to and suceeds in showing English country life in all it beauty and horror, in all it ordianry and extraordinariness. The stories about th ...more
Jade
Jul 27, 2011 Jade rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Louis, Louis, Louis - I know you are a genius Louis, but this is like a shite chick lit that you get free with a mag on a plane. According to reviews you should read this if you like 'quirky little stories', although quirky to me means bit eccentric, exciting - it seemed to me that every story in this book was about someone dying! Well that's cheery. This book should be reserved for dental waiting rooms only.
David Grieve
Like the proverbial curate's egg, this was good in parts. I grew up in the English countryside in the seventies and reognised a number of the characters within the stories. The gentle humour, sometimes tinged with something darker, suited the subject matter. However, some of the stories were simply too weak, or in one or two cases, too predictable. This detracted from the book as a whole. Very disappointing from the man who wrote "Birds Without Wings", an undoubted masterpiece.
Muhammad Nusair
This book is a collection of inter-linked short stories revolving around a fictional English village, Notwithstanding, and its eccentric inhabitants, it will make you cry from laughter as it will break your heart. Having only read "Corelli's Mandolin" and "Birds Without Wings" by Louis de Bernieres, I was really shocked as I went through the pages of this book, it's very well written, but it's not de Bernieres!
Ray
Sep 28, 2012 Ray rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Parts of this book are good, there are some funny passages and also some great characters ..... but, I found this too whimsical and lightweight. I accept that this is a matter of personal taste.

Overall it left me cold.

I would have awarded 2.5 stars if I could.

Do not be put off reading L de B's other books. They are very good indeed.
Dymbula
Skvělé postřehy, např.:
Máme velmi pružnou představu o tom, co je normální. Jsme v některých ohledech zkostnatělí a formální, ale věříme v právo na výstřednost, pokud jsou ty výstřednosti dost velké. K těm malým nejsme zdaleka tak tolerantní. Běda vám, když držíte špatně nůž, ale je vám přáno, pokud nosíte bederní roušku a žijete na stromě.
Maria
Jun 14, 2010 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book. I have not been so excited about a book and wished to recommend it to so many people since the Potato Peel Society. Please read it, even if you are not a de Bernieres fan. Tear jerking, laugh out loud funny, cringeworthy - wonderful.
Andria
Apr 13, 2011 Andria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quote from the author sums this book up nicely: " Britain really is an immense lunatic asylum....We have a very flexible conception of normality. We are rigid and formal in some ways, but we believe in the right to eccentricity, as long as the eccentricities are large enough."
Griselda
Nov 20, 2014 Griselda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh how I enjoyed this! The book is set in an area I know well for all the wrong reasons and what fun it was identifying this and that. (I would have been far crueller; lucky for me and the people of Surrey that no publisher would take me on.)
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Novelist Louis de Bernières was born in London in 1954. He joined the army at 18 but left after spending four months at Sandhurst. After graduating from the Victoria University of Manchester, he took a postgraduate certificate in Education at Leicester Polytechnic and obtained his MA at the University of London.

Before writing full-time, he held many varied jobs including landscape gardener, motor
...more
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