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Hand Me Down World

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  1,043 ratings  ·  200 reviews
A woman washes ashore in Sicily. She has come from north Africa to find her son, taken from her when he was just days old by his father and stolen away to Berlin. With nothing but her maid's uniform and a knife stashed in a plastic bag, she relies on strangers— some generous, some exploiting—to guide her passage north.
These strangers tell of their encounters with a quiet,
Hardcover, 313 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Alfred A. Knopf Canada (first published 2010)
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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen SimonsonThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David MitchellFreedom by Jonathan FranzenHeartstone by C.J. SansomWe, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen
IMPAC 2012 Longlist
9th out of 41 books — 30 voters
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Books By New Zealand Authors
129th out of 589 books — 261 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,407)
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Nancy Oakes
There are a number of novels where the story is told in a number of different voices, but I do believe this one may win the prize for the largest number of narrators. It is a bit reminiscent of modern television documentaries in which multiple people relate their experiences relating to a given topic; unlike television however, the story is not passive; it is one in which the reader has a job to do in interpreting what's really going on -- if he or she can find any reliability in the narration. ...more
"I used to find myself saying, I can't imagine. But, I've since found out, you can-it's just a case of wanting to."

This discovery has been made by Abebi, the adoptive mother of the child that was stolen from Ines, the child she crosses from Tunisia to Germany to find. How has this revelation come to Abebi? She has read the testimonials of all those people whose lives were touched by Ines as she was passing through, which, in fact, make up the book that we have just read. And like Abebi, like the
Ae Lynch
This latest novel from Lloyd Jones is the compelling and intriguing story of "Ines", an African hotel worker who travels illegally to Europe to find her son. This story is told through the narratives of the various characters she comes into contact with on her journey (as they hand her down from one to the other, the idea which provided the title), and then from her own perspective. In this manner the novel focusses on how people treat each other, and also on how they shape their world according ...more
☔Diane S.
3.5 I read his novel, Mr. Pip and loved it though there were many dark and brutal parts. This novel I liked but not quite as much. This is a story that starts in Africa, where a woman has a baby and then her baby it taken away by its father without her permission. She than goes on to try to get her baby back, a journey that takes her to Berlin.

This is a very sparsely written and very unusual detective novel. What happens to Ines and whom is responsible? We hear from many different people she met
This is the story of a women know to the reader as Ines. Ines makes a long, hard, and often dangerous journey from Africa to Europe in search of a child.

'Hand Me Down World' is actually one story, told twice. The first half of the book is narrated by the people who Ines meets during her journey. From the truck driver who gives her a lift to the blind man who used her as his eyes. Ines is 'handed down' from person to person - slowly making her way to her destination, with the determination that
Hand Me Down World is the 12th book by New Zealand author, Lloyd Jones. Ines is a black woman who works as a hotel supervisor in Tunisia until a series of events compels her to make her way to Berlin. Those events and the stages of her harrowing journey, her arrival and stay in Berlin, her arrest and imprisonment, are told by people she encounters along the way, and eventually, by Ines herself. Thus the reader first sees events from the point of view of observers: another hotel worker, a police ...more
The first part of the story is narrated by various people who encountered a woman and helped her in her quest to travel to Berlin to find her young son. I thought this was intriguing and I really liked how they all helped her in different ways, some good, some not so good, from a truck driver, snail shell collector to a chess player and other interesting characters.

As the story goes on we gradually learn a little more about this woman from Africa, until she herself narrates the last part and we
Wonderful. This is one of those books you can't bear to finish because you don't want it to end...
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People lie. Not just to the world, but to themselves. This is the barb of truth at the end of "Hand Me Down World", which, difficult though it may be to accept, is impossible to deny. Jones presents several witnesses on his quest to tell the story of the protagonist, whose fate seems doomed from the very first page. We hear accounts from those who apparently know this woman, or have known her intimately in the past, as well as installments from people whose paths crossed with her only briefly. W ...more
I always feel bad giving a well written book such a low rating. The author is definitely a good writer. This is quite enjoyable until the last 2/3 or so when the main character begins her account of what happened on her journey to find her kidnapped child. Her version deviated to greater and lesser degrees from the narration of others, but in ways that either didn't matter or had Me wondering what the point was in changing the narrative from what the original teller reported. It didn't add to th ...more
Who is Ines, an illegal African migrant who embarks on a hazardous sea crossing to Italy and Germany in search of her stolen son? That answer is revealed slowly and painstakingly in this haunting new book by Lloyd Jones, author of the acclaimed Mister Pip.

When we first meet her, Ines is working as a maid in a tony Tunisian resort, where women routinely supplement their wages with “hotel sex.” In the first few pages, we learn that she is seduced and impregnated by a callous black German guest, Je
If you have ever wanted to read a story about true courage, resilience and strength, than this would be the only one you'd ever need to read.

This novel follows the story of an African woman (who's name you're not even sure of throughout the entire novel) working as a maid in a tourist resort. It's there that she falls for a tourist who gets her pregnant, but tricks her and leaves her - taking their baby with him to Berlin. You are heartbroken for this woman before her story has even began. The s
I approached this book with some trepidation, mainly because it had received such favourable reviews that I worried I might be disappointed!
Despite its apparent simplicity, this is a complicated novel. It’s the story of Ines (not her real name) and her journey to find her child. The first section describes how Ines interacts with those she meets in her journey. To me, although this was a fascinating view of the lives of a range of people (the truck driver, the hunters...) it was not very engross
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘To hold onto even a little is still to have it.’

This is the story of a woman we know as Ines: an African woman who travels illegally to Europe to try to find her son. Ines’s story is told through the narratives of various people she comes into contact with during her journey as they each hand her from one to the other, and then from her own perspective. This method of narration allows us to see how different people perceive and treat Ines (and each other) and how each person’s view of the world
3 1/2 stars, rounded up. The story of an African woman searching for her baby who was stolen from her by the father and taken back to Germany. The story is being told in fragments by all of the various people who came in contact with her on her perilous journey as an illegal alien crossing Europe.
It would make a good European movie. The story is handed off like a baton from one character to another, completely disparate and unpredictable in their interaction with the protagonist. Great locales f
This was kind of a frustrating book for me. Ostensibly the story of a woman searching for her kidnapped son, it's told instead through the points of view of people she meets along her journey. As has been said in other reviews, we don't even get her real name, and most of the time she isn't even given one. We don't get the woman's point of view until about 2/3 through the book, and then it differs from the other accounts. You don't ever feel like you really know her. With the added not knowing w ...more
This was such an unusual and interesting book. It is the story of a courageous mother fiercely determined to find the son who has been taken from her, in a journey which takes her across continents. In the first half of the book, we hear of bits and pieces of her journey from those whom she has encountered along the way. In the second half of the book, she tells her own story, fleshing out events, filling in missing details and correcting lies and omissions by the previous narrators. Thus her st ...more
Tony Nielsen
While I really enjoyed this Kiwi author's earlier hit novel Mr Pip, Hand me Down World is frankly under-welming. I couldn't wait to finish it for all the wrong reasons. Not many books don't hold my attention once I have chosen to read one, so this was a disappointment.
Phillip Edwards
Hand Me Down World is the story of one woman's journey to find her child, as glimpsed by the people she meets along the way. "Her story is in the hands of others" as the author himself has put it. A truck driver, a chess player, an alpine guide, a poet-thief, a film researcher, a blind man - otherwise unconnected lives linked by the thread of one woman's journey. Determined to be reunited with her son, who has been taken to Berlin by his German father, she leaves her job as a maid in a Tunisian ...more
Alison Wassell
This is an unusual and thought provoking novel that is surely destined to linger in reader's minds for a long time.
The first section of the book consists of a series of 'testimonies' of those whose lives have in some way been touched by the central character, an African woman known as Ines, as she is 'handed down' between them from Tunis to Berlin in search of the son she has been tricked into giving away. Through these narrators we learn Ines' story at second hand, and in a fragmentary way, ne
emergency read while I wait for the library to re-open (damaged roof) and I can pick up all the lovely reservations waiting for me. This book is my wife's, but I have always meant to read it as I liked 'Mr Pip'.

this book suffered because for some reason - well, work, family etc, the usual reasons - I couldn't get a good long run at it. I think it was a fine novel. It was a fine novel, a moving account of an African woman trying to trace her abducted new born son. The son is taken by its father t
This is a book about one woman’s journey, physical and emotional, from Africa to Europe in search of a child, but it’s just as much about the individual journeys of all the people she meets, who help or hinder her along the way. It’s a book about home, and what the concept means.

She calls herself Ines, and she’s not the kind of person any of us has met in real life or on the pages of fiction before now. She’s someone who wouldn’t draw any attention, who you might look right through. Sometimes yo
This book is about Ines, a character whose name we don't even learn until a hundred pages or so have already past. Ines has an affair with a guest at the hotel she works at, and when she gets pregnant she is tricked into signing away her child to the man's wife. She then embarks on a journey to Berlin to get her child back, and we hear the story from the perspective of the strangers she meets on her trip. The first half of the book is separated into chapters where her hotel supervisor, a truck d ...more
Hand Me Down World is told in a pastiche of personal recollections about the central character, who is only ever referred to as she, her, or the woman. The very first character in the book claimed "If I tell you of my beginning you will know hers. I can actually remember the moment I was born." Thus shooting down any credibility as a witness, even a fictional one!! I could forge no connection with the central character and lost interest in her journey, for all that it sounded so interesting from ...more
Both the story itself and manner in which it is told are compelling. But it wasn't until near the end I was willing to attach the term "amazing" to Mr. Jones, Hand Me Down World. I think I know why. "Compelling" is just good storytelling, but the book became personal for me when I reached "...the old gentleman... was tall and sagged down through his shoulders. It was as if he had been looking forward to meeting me for some time and here we were. I have known hotel guests like him. They are so p ...more
Chris LaHatte
I love books for Christmas! Lloyd Jones last year almost won the Booker prize for Mr Pip. This year through modern Berlin he writes of a journey, from a woman who lets very little of herself escape to the outsider, in her journey to see her child stolen by trickery. There are some pretty nasty characters, but none are free from using others for their own needs, whether sexual or for other purposes. The story unfolds from North Africa, through Europe to Berlin and back to Italy. The woman, whose ...more
Jo Barton
This is the story of a quest – not just for individual fulfilment, but also for personal freedom and justice. Told through a series of narrators, the novel begins when a terrible wrong is perpetrated – what then follows is the story of how this transgression affected so many different lives.
Bold and complex, this novel reawakens the soul, it proclaims a mother’s love for her child, and delivers the message that to struggle against adversity is not a sign of weakness, but of overwhelming pride.
A woman in Africa gives birth to a baby boy, who is then taken from her by its German father. She is determined to find her son, and this kicks off a journey which takes her to Italy, initially on a small boat and then swimming the rest of the way. She makes her way up from the bottom of Italy, reliant on strangers to help her along the way, but concealing from them the truth about who she is and what she wants. Finally she arrives in Berlin, and sets about trying to find a way to connect with h ...more
Amazingly I give this book three stars. I didn't enjoy the style of writing - I thought the narratives blended into one persons voice - but was that the intention of the author? I actually didn't really enjoy reading it until the last third and more so when I actually finished it. What I enjoyed most is the questions it posed as I thought about the book in days afterwards. The book certainly made for good discussions at our book club. I
Houlahan houlahan
Started off with a real hiss and a roar, but this quality is not sustained. Some excellent passages. Very heart rending in parts. He is our leading living writer, in my opinion.
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Lloyd Jones was born in 1955 in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, a place which has become a frequent setting and subject for his subsequent works of fiction. He studied at Victoria University, and has worked as a journalist and consultant as well as a writer. His recent novels are: Biografi (1993); Choo Woo (1998); Here At The End of the World We Learn to Dance (2002); Paint Your Wife (2004);and Mister Pi ...more
More about Lloyd Jones...
Mister Pip Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance The Book of Fame A History of Silence: a memoir Biografi: A Traveler's Tale

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