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Notwithstanding: Stories from an English Village

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,008 ratings  ·  125 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 of 1,709)
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Sandy
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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Matt
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
in_essence
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alumine Andrew
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
Veronica
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
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Griselda
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.)
Jane Routley
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
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
Anna
I’ll be honest, if two people I trust hadn’t recommended this to me, and one of them lent me a copy, I probably wouldn’t have read it. I adored Captain Corelli's Mandolin, but am generally suspicious of novels with cover quotes from the Daily Mail describing them as delightful and heart-warming. I did enjoy this book, taking my mother’s advice and skipping the chapter titled ‘Rabbit’. (She suggested that it would upset me, as I have a strong emotional attachment to bunnies.) It was a sadder book ...more
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.
Jade
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.
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!
Andria
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."
Maria
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.
Emily
One of the best books I've read in awhile, a collection of intertwined short stories about an English village.
P J
I am not very familiar with the work of Louis de Bernières, having previously only read ‘A Partisan’s Daughter’ with which I was not impressed. I confess the short stories in Notwithstanding are a world away from ‘A Partisan’s Daughter’, demonstrating, at least, impressive versatility.
I also have lived in a village, a proper village, and have suffered with bewildered amusement a new neighbour complaining about the crowing of my cockerel and demanding that I ‘do something about it’. I loved my vi
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Louise
Let me preface this review with the fact that I love Louis de Bernieres. Birds Without Wings is probably one of my top five favourite books ever and I was utterly enchanted by Captain Corelli's Mandolin. I also really enjoyed A Partisan's Daughter. I like the man himself, having been to hear him read and speak a couple of times and had a lovely chat with him at a book signing. I say all this because it breaks my heart to criticise him, which is what I am about to do.

The fact that on the front co
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Ape
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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
Mariko Asakawa-north
Took me a couple of chapters to realise how the book was structured, although that was because I hadn't bothered to read the blurb (I read it as an e-book). This is a charming collection of fictional stories about all the different characters within one community in rural England. Some of them are touching, and nothing is entirely straightforward. I have now bought Captain Corelli's Mandolin, and will read that soon (once I've finished the books I'm meant to be reading).
Cliff
First a correction to an earlier review. This is not a collection of stories about a fictional village, but about a renamed real village, Hambledon in Surrey as five minutes research on the web will reveal. I found it a delightful read. There is humour - I couldn't stop giggling at the first story, much to the irritation of my nearest and dearest lying in bed beside me. But there is also tragedy - the beautiful Mrs Rendell dead from cancer before she was 40.
Jennifer
Alexander McCall Smith meets Miss Read meets... Louis de Bernieres.

There was a little too much predictable 'agenda' (the idiotic townie, the 'elf and safety gone mad') to make it truly great, and it felt as though the nuns were owed a story of their own which they didn't get. I enjoyed the way de Bernieres weaves the stories together, back and forth, back and forth.

There was a point in this collection where what it was mostly giving me was a renewed appreciation for McCall Smith and the skill th
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BookAmbler
I loved these short stories! VERY English, and a great reflection on a way of life which has all but disappeared. Sad in places but also funny.

My favourite was "The Girt Pike" story, although I have no interest in fishing, but it was beautifully told.

It was a Reading Group choice - though I had read and enjoyed Red Dog a few years ago. I must now try Captain Corelli's Mandolin (previously put off by the endlessly slow film).
Lisa
I have always loved de Bernieres' work and Birds Without Wings is one of my favourite books - because of this I was really looking forward to reading Notwithstanding. I was not disappointed in the main and many of his eccentric characters were beautifully developed. There were quite a few places where I laughed out loud and though some of the stories were sad they were not sentimentally so. My only issue with the book was Colonel Barkwell's fish story. It had way too many similarities to a secti ...more
Pragyam
A delightful series of stories that reminded me of Miss Marple's famous saying, "Human nature is the same everywhere." These characters could be anywhere, not just in an English village, and it would be as much pleasure reading about them. My favorite in the series was the Pike story; the ones about the quartet meetings are funny too. On the whole, the book is a simple, fun read with underlying profounder messages.
Lisabet Sarai
I've loved Louis de Bernieres' writing ever since I encountered The War of Don Emannuel's Nether Parts. My most recent book by him, before Notwithstanding, was the epic Birds Without Wings, a vast, multi-faceted exploration of the demise of the Ottoman empire and the growth of hostility between the formerly co-existing Greeks and Turks. Nothwithstanding is a more modest work, but shows the same sensitivity and heart. The book is a set of interlocking short stories about the inhabitants of a smal ...more
Fiona McCready
Warning: My rating of this book may be biased by the fact I am writing it after four glasses of wine and have been out of England for five months...

This collection of short stories serves up a huge dollop of eccentric Englishness, and I loved it. I am a big fan of de Bernieres tales set in exotic locations (his South American trilogy are among my favourite stories) and it was great to see his vivid storytelling bought to a seemingly sleepy English village; Notwithstanding.

The stories are amusin
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Jen
I want to live in a world populated by these batty characters, punctuated by all the funny, bizarre and touching moments which de Bernieres skillfully embroiders into his most recent book. The English village of Notwithstanding is a long way from the hills of Kefalonia described in [Captain Corelli's Mandolin] but it is a testament to de Bernieres' skill as a writer that he has made both places equally real and equally intriguing in my mind's eye. He has a clever way of interspersing the funny a ...more
Amy
Apr 29, 2011 Amy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: de Bernieres fans, British fiction lovers
Many of these short stories are reminiscent of those you'd read in your high school English class. Universal themes, I suppose you could call them - first love, life in a small town, first love ending badly, and death. Lots and lots of dying in these stories, although not all is necessarily sad. It's a nice compilation, well written in de Bernieres style, which I very much enjoy, as well as rewards for attentive reading, as there is some unexpected interweaving of characters throughout the stori ...more
Leif
Treat your nostalgic remembrances of a place familiar to you only from pastoral advertising and longlost hobbit dreams: de Bernières crafts an elegantly lightweight tour through fancy with short stories focusing on small slices of this community's changing life –they build to an efficiently holistic vision of a village, and while they're unlikely to serve as challenging reading they do make for almost a latterday P.G. Wodehouse effect, substituting a little emotional gravity for Wodehouse's ruth ...more
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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
More about Louis de Bernières...
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