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Paul Torday
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3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,126 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
A haunting, dazzling novel of obsession and addiction, loyalty and betrayal--and, of course, fine wine Late one summer evening, Wilberforce--young, rich, work-obsessed, and self-contained--makes an unexpected detour on the way home from work and unwittingly takes the first step on a journey that will change his life.
His uncharacteristically impulsive act leads him to the h
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Mariner Books (first published 2005)
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Mar 22, 2009 Gerund rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
British novelist Paul Torday's bestselling debut novel, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, was a snarky but ultimately feel-good comedy, involving a protagonist who breaks out of quotidian drudgery thanks to a new passion (in that case, fishing).
In his second , there is again a protagonist who raises his nose from the grindstone one day to unexpectedly discover a hitherto unfelt passion (in this case, wine), the new obsession changing his life forever.
Unfortunately, what life has in store for our hero
Mar 11, 2016 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce is the second novel by British author, Paul Torday. When Torday introduces his narrator, Wilberforce, it is 2006 and he is an enthusiastic wine drinker who owns an estate called Caerlyon Hall, the subterranean undercroft full of wine located under the Hall, and a flat in Half Moon Street, Mayfair. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Wilberforce is a virtually penniless alcoholic, a delusional widower who has alienated all his friends, squandered a ...more
Maria Raynal
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 16, 2008 Nigel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A much more bleak and sombre second novel from Paul Torday who debuted with the entertaining Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. The main character here becomes increasingly dislikeable as his wrong-footed life choices come home to roost. Wilberforce makes for a thoroughly unreliable narrator as he seeks to justify his alcoholism and betrayal of his friends. He's a man who ventures out of his depth and sinks rather than swims. The reverse timeline structure makes the story all the more poignant and at ...more
Jan 19, 2009 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once I realized that the timeline of this book was not linear, I kept reading it, and then I began to see it as a minor masterpiece. I saw traces of Thomas Hardy in it, as well as Italo Calvino and other authors. No spoilers here, but if they were allowed I would right quite a bit about this book. I highly recommend it for anybody interested in literature that is being written right now.
Jan 19, 2011 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those with a concern about alcoholism: their own or someone else's; wine buffs
Wilberforce (he's never called anything else in the novel) is a driven but talented software developer, a child of unknown parentage adopted at birth by a well-meaning but wool-gathering woman and her academic but thwarted husband. He sees himself growing up largely loveless, though one of the things I feel is missing from the novel is more about his relationship with his adoptive mother. (His adoptive father either ignores him or disparages him.) He and a buddy find success in software developm ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chantelle Atkins
I didn't love this book, because it sort of depressed me, hence the three star rating. However, it is a brilliant book, very clever, differernt, beautifully written and constructed, and at some points was definitely a page turner. It just lacked warmth and joy for me, so I will explain why. Wilberforce is in his thirties, a successful computer software developer, but he has never been in love, never really had friends, and was never truly loved by his foster parents as a child. He has thrown him ...more
Dec 27, 2011 Robin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Had this been the first Paul Torday novel I had read, it would likely have been the last! No doubt a newish author wants to prove himself but this is just an exercise in trying to be different or show off, I think.

The whole book is a flashback starting at the end and working back to a vague beginning. Except it neither begins nor ends so the reader is left wondering what happened [if indeed, he is that engaged with the story or character].

This may be an interesting concept if you are an academ
Jan 09, 2016 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It starts slowly, and I'm thinking, "Is he going to be drinking wine and visiting restaurants throughout the whole 300 pages?" But the story gets more and more interesting. Starting in the present and going back a year in each following part of the book makes for exciting reading - slowly filling the blanks in the story.
The only thing I wished for was to know how the story ends for Willberforce. Could he be Francis' son?
I highly recommend the book.
Sonia Jaidev
Jun 13, 2014 Sonia Jaidev rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Was it a comedy or a tragedy. Guess I will never find out. But that's what Paul Torday always does.
The moment a bottle of wine is opened it dies. But what doesn't die?
This is the story of a computer geek, Wilberforce told in the reverse order. Yes, Torday calls him Wilberfore right till the end, only then do you get to know his first name.
Pretty dark story. Wilberforce is a socially awkward, emotionally challenged, practically teetotal computer geek cum owner of a profitable company who finds hi
Mandy Setterfield
Oct 21, 2015 Mandy Setterfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gripping read. The story of an alcoholic told in reverse chronological order. Once I'd got to the end, I wanted to start again and read it backwards. During the early part of the book, when his illness is at its worst, I couldn't put it down, and if forced to, kept thinking "wonder how Wilberforce is?"
Helen Precious
Mar 27, 2016 Helen Precious rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A book of 4 parts that starts with the ending. This book just bored me, I didn't expect it to be funny but I did expect to be entertained. The main character Wilberforce was portrayed as being in his mid 30's but I found his character to be someone in his mid fifties. He is an alcoholic and this is the story of him from the start of his working life to current day - but in reverse. The story surrounding his wife and how they came to be together was weak and unconvincing, as were the other lead c ...more
May 03, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting odd and strange book. But a fascinating book as well. It starts at the end and goes towards the beginning. Once you realise it you know there won't be a happy ending. You know the end already. This makes you curious about how it came to the end.

My history with Paul Torday novels is that I first watched the Salmon Fishing in Yemen movie on our flight to Germany in 2012. Then just recently I saw the book as a recommendation in our library. I was slightly more excited about the book
Toby Flett
This book was nigh unreadable in its middle. Flat characters, stilted dialogue, a general blahness of prose, all these made this book something that I had to struggle through. Much as I hate to admit it, though, I think the last section works pretty well, if only because some characters who were simply cardboard cutouts before actually get a little more interesting, and the atmosphere of doom and gloom that you know is ahead of W. is a nice counterpoint to his optimism. This book was like spam o ...more
Apr 05, 2014 Phillipa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Citra Saraswati
Congratulations Paul Torday for successfully writing a novel so dull like this. I hope, in return, you can congratulate me for enduring the agony of finishing it. Maybe we can celebrate it with a glass of wine.


If I got a dime for every single time I came across the word "wine" in the book, which is A LOT, I could be filthy rich. In reality, there are a lot of wasted brain cells I cannot have back.

I wanted to like the book alright, because I kind of can relate to Wilberforce 's introverted n
Der größte Clou dieses Romans ist so genial, wie banal. Die Geschichte wird rückwärts erzählt. Sie beginnt mit dem Ende des Protagonisten: Wilberforce, ein ehemaliger Softwareentwickler, ist völlig am Ende. Vom Alkohol zerstört verleibt er sich in einem feinen Restaurant zwei Flaschen des teuersten Bordeaux ein, den er finden kann, fällt ins Koma und als er aufwacht, erfährt er, dass er nicht mehr lange zu Leben hat.

Wie es dazu kommen konnte und welche wirklich dummen Fehler dem Protagonisten do
Bronwyn Rykiert
Jan 06, 2011 Bronwyn Rykiert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, friends
Even though this book is quite a different genre to what I usually read I found it compulsive listening.

This story is told in four sections, each describing a different year, starting in 2006 and finishing in 2002.

The book begins with Wilberforce as a befuddled drunk, staggering around Mayfair, drinking 250 units of alcohol every week. He spends six grand on two bottles of 1982 Petrus in a restaurant and drinks them alone at a table.

Wilberforce had been a computer geek who turned his teenage hob
Jan 31, 2013 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another Winner from Torday!

Not a nice story and not a happy ending if that's the right way to describe this novel as it's written from the most recent date to the earliest date in which we catch Wilberforce and his new 'friends'.
It becomes apparent that Wilberforce has some social bonding issues, and might even have a small splash of Aspergers or Autism. He can't make friends and doesn't really like talking to people in a social situation - but he does like someone else's girl! My feelings were
Aufstieg und Fall eines kleinen Mannes ...
Wilberforce hat vor Jahren ein Software-Unternehmen gegründet und dies mit viel Schweiß und Arbeit zum Erfolg geführt. Als nun mehrere Dinge zusammentreffen entschließt er sich, seine Firma zu kaufen - um damit ein Haus inkl. großem Weinlager von seinem verstorbenen Freund Francis ersteigern zu können - denn seit seiner ersten Begegnung mit Francis hat sich die Liebe von Wilberforce zu Bordeaux mehr und mehr vertieft.
Doch "diesen" Wilberforce in den ju
Jul 30, 2013 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book won't win any awards. There are no literary gymnastics here. It's a simple and clean writing style. Yet its themes and main character were compelling to me. My uncle just died last week from addiction, so this book hit me in a unexpected way.

The retro-chronology of the book proved interesting, as I needed to know how the main character got to this desperate place in life. You could see how Wilberforce's voice and values changed over time. The book's ending was sadly ironic and poignant
Amanda Patterson
Aug 05, 2011 Amanda Patterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Torday’s debut novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing. It was serialised on radio, and appeared on many UK lists of summer reads, including the coveted Richard and Judy endorsement.
Readers expecting more light comic relief will be disappointed with his second novel. I was delighted. Wilberforce is a 37-year-old IT engineer, who sells his business to drink. This isn’t as odd as it sounds. He did, after all, buy a house with an undergro
Feb 19, 2010 Sheila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
Started this very late last night and couldn't put it down till I'd finished the first chapter - hilarious intro to Wilberforce and his encounter with no less than 2 bottles of petreus 1982 - now which Alexander McCall Smith volume was that wine also in? Yes, one of the early Scotland Street ones which had Bruce's escurrsions into the wine trade as part of its storyline.

Now finished it the following day! Loved it! I read his Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and remember laughing all the way through.
Mar 22, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So good!

I really do enjoy books that are not linear, or at least in the case of this - books which are not linear in the usual order of oldest to newest events.

Be warned that the tale does begin with the most depressing section and finishes on a huge note of hopefulness. These make it even more of a poignant ending...

I really want to read The Legacy of Hartlepool Hall soon as it features the charming snake Ed Hartlepool, he's quite an interesting character in this and 'More Than You Can Say.' Au
Aug 04, 2009 Kim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't like this book. The writing is stuffy, the main character is unlikeable, and yes, it's about wine so I get that we need a certain amount of detail about wine, but ENOUGH already.

I hung on past my "3 chapter rule" (If it doesn't grab me in 3 chapters, don't finish it because there are too many good books in the world to torture one's self with the bad ones.) because the book jacket indicates that it's a novel concept of a story told in reverse, kind of like Memento, and there is somethin
Elli Lewis
Feb 02, 2016 Elli Lewis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my introduction to the works of Paul Torday and instantly made me a life-long fan. I have never had an interest in wine, but Wilberforce's love - obsession - was so real that I could almost taste the tannins.

There's a lovely balance throughout between bleakness and dry observation and I cannot describe the intense frustration I felt at some points with Wilberforce's actions.

Yet, of course, it is the way the story is told that sets this book apart. Brilliant.
May 17, 2014 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel in four vintages, going backwards from 2006 to 2002, each year describes Francis Wilberforce’s gradual change from work-aholic software developer to wine connoisseur. As he discovers friends and a wife in the ‘upper crust’ he abandons his business and frugal, abstemious lifestyle ultimately becoming an alcoholic. Its unconventional structure means we know the bleak ending from the beginning and even the black humour doesn’t save the book from its depressing impact.
Feb 08, 2014 Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book and it's backwards voyage of discovery. We meet Wilberforce when he is muddled and very sick and gradually move backwards through his life finding out more about why he is how he is when we first meet him. None of the characters are particularly engaging or even likeable but this didn't put me off. I did find it a bit repetitive, not about the events in Wilberforce's life but in the detail of the wine drinking which was occasionally laboured. However, all in all I would recom ...more
Aug 04, 2015 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. This is one of the few books I've read where the non-linear structure seems well thought out and it really worked for me. The thing that knocked a half star from this fantastic and haunting read is the characterisation. I felt that the characters were flat and I didn't get the feeling that they were real people. I love that Torday set most of this book in the North East, where I'm from. I think he took liberties with the geography quite a bit, but it was a nice touch, nonetheless.
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Paul Torday burst on to the literary scene in 2007 with his first novel, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN, an immediate international bestseller that has been translated into 28 languages and has been made into a film starring Ewan McGregor, Kristin Scott Thomas and Emily Blunt. His subsequent novels, THE IRRESISTIBLE INHERITANCE OF WILBERFORCE, THE GIRL ON THE LANDING, THE HOPELESS LIFE OF CHARLIE SUM ...more
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