Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Last Orders” as Want to Read:
Last Orders
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Last Orders

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,659 Ratings  ·  325 Reviews
Last Orders is the story of four men once close to London butcher Jack Dodds, who meet to carry out his last wish: to have his ashes scattered into the sea. The men, whose lives revolve around work, family, the racetrack and their favourite pub, must make their way down to a seaside town to complete the task. Through conversation and memory they trace the paths they have f ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 27th 2005 by Vintage Canada (first published January 1st 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Last Orders, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Last Orders

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Paul Bryant
Feb 18, 2016 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, novels
Scene : the smoke room at the Bag of Grandmas, Old Kent Road, Bermondsey, East End, London.

Three novelists are propping up the bar and grouching.

Ian McEwan : My Booker Prize is bigger than yours.

Julian Barnes : No it fucking isn’t, they’re all the same size.

Ian McEwan : No they’re not, they make em bigger if they think it’s a better fucking work of literature.

Graham Swift : No they don’t

Ian McEwan : Yes they do, if Shakespeare has won it his’d be as big as the London Fucking Eye. Salman Rushdi
Apr 15, 2010 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful, beautiful book. Graham Swift has got to be one of the greatest writers of our generation. This is not a large book, but one should take his time reading to savor his language, his great skill in crafting amazingly simple stories of everyday people. Swift brings his characters--in this book, butchers, junk dealers, used car salesmen, funeral directors, housewives--great dignity.

Four friends set out to scatter the ashes of a mutual friend, at his request. Not an original plot de
Elizabeth (Alaska)
My negative for this is largely due to my own lack of knowledge rather than the work itself. I think if I had been familiar with London and its environs my appreciation would be greater. It begins in Bermondsey. A Google search tells me it is one of the oldest areas of south London, but even that doesn't tell me what I think locals would know. From the story, I gather it is more of a working class neighborhood - but I gathered that from reading, not from foreknowledge. Foreknowledge would have b ...more
Jul 22, 2011 Tony rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
This begins: “It ain’t like your regular sort of day.” Not exactly “Call me Ishmael” but you have to start somewhere. A little workshoppy, but there’s some promise there. Perhaps it could turn into a one-day, colloquial journey through themes and characters.

But then again, maybe not. In a few brisk chapters we have encountered (the word met suggests more purchase than we are given) Ray, Jack, Sue, Sally, Vince, Vic, Lenny, Amy, Bernie, Brenda, Joan, Mandy, Carol and Charlie. Was there any need t
Jane Odgers

Jack Arthur Dodds (deceased) - "Dodds and Son Family Butcher, since 1903".
Vince Dodds (Vincent Ian Pritchett) - "son" of Jack and Amy. "Dodds' Autos"
Ray "Lucky" Johnson - "...if you want to put a bet on, he's your man".
Lenny Tate, Grocer - "Gunner Tate, middleweight. Always pissed. Always late".
Vic Tucker, Funeral Director - " your disposal".
Amy Dodds - Jack's wife, mother of June (mentally disabled). " was hop picking that started it....It's all pickings."
Mandy Black -
Jan 05, 2012 Frederick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, swift-graham
I won't describe the plot here. You can find that in the Goodreads description. I will make some observations, among them my idea that, whether by design or not, LAST ORDERS is Joycean. It is also accessible. The reason I think it may not be a conscious imitation of Joyce is that I suspect Joyce, fundamental innovator though he was, wrote in a tradition. Somebody once said you could go to any bar in Dublin and hear the sort of conversations you'd read in ULYSSES. Graham Swift's Englishmen (and w ...more
Oct 30, 2010 Kerfe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"I'd like to be all kinds of people....but I can't because I'm me....I don't want to be like me, I want to be like them but I can't I can't I can't."

It took me about one third of the book to straighten out the characters in my mind. I was thinking I should go back and re-read the beginning, but now I think it was better that all the stories were jumbled and then clarified. Or somewhat clarified. The characters themselves have not sorted out their relationships or their pasts either.

Each short ch
May 14, 2016 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Influenced by William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, this novel was criticized by some reviewers as too derivative to deserve the Booker Prize it was awarded. I find that criticism irrelevant, since many authors are influenced by the works of other writers, and in this case the book stands well on its own. It is the story of a small group of friends, drinking buddies and neighbors, who take the ashes of one of them from London to Margate to throw them into the ocean, in accordance with the wishes of ...more
Jul 09, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I have been disappointed with Booker Award winners in the past, but this winner from 1996 was deeply satisfying to me.

My only reason for not giving it five stars is that I felt it was harder than it needed to be to learn the identities and backgrounds of the main characters and keep track of the time hopping that went on, even though I know that was a key to the novel's construction.

The story is built around a last wish by butcher Jack Dodds that his ashes be scattered off the end of Margate Pie
Thomas Edmund
Jun 02, 2016 Thomas Edmund rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last Orders is a strange one for a Booker Prize. Somehow its both hard and easy to read, deep and shallow, simple and convoluted. My book club and I decided this was probably intentional. While many parts of the tail are almost soap opera-like many parts cut much deeper, all while with a humourous bent and plain language.

The books blurb is fairly explanatory but one note I will make is there is very little war in this book. One could be forgiven for expecting a harrowing tale similar to the Long
Jul 03, 2011 lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me cry. Seriously. So you know that it is going straight to the list of best reads of the year. For real. Which is surprising because the narrative structure of the book is one that I typically don't like. The story is told from a multiperspectival point of view, with chapters being named for the person who is narrating that chapter, or, from where the events in the chapter are taking place, in which case Ray is the narrator. This isn't my favorite narrative style, but for this st ...more
Sunaina Khurana
Meh. Don't get me wrong. The writer is really good. He has to be to be able to get into the skin of so many characters and portray them so distinctively. The plot is interesting too ... or could've been, if it were less convoluted with so many breaks for each character's narrative. But that's just it. It took me halfway down the book to get a grip on the story and the way it ended left me wondering what the point was. And throughout I couldn't wait to get over with it to go on to the next book. ...more
محمد المرزوقي

رواية بسيطة مخادعة وتحكي قصة اربعة رجال يحملون رماد صديقهم المتوفي معهم اثناء رحلة تجمعهم وخلالها يقوم كل واحد منهم برواية قصته
استخدام بارع للغة في ايصال كل قصة بطريقة شيقة وجذابة ، الكثير من القصص ستروى علاقاتهم الرومانسية مع النساء واخفاقهم في العديد من هذه القصص

انها سهلة القراءة، ولكن يجب عليك قراءة الصفحات ال 50 الأولى بدون توقف وإلا ستصاب بالحيرة حول الكثير من الامور وستضطر إلى إعادة قراءة العمل من جديد
. العلاقات معقدة ومتشابكة ومليئة الخداع وخيبة الأمل

ذكرتني بقصة فيلم من ألف الى باء و
Aug 30, 2014 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
We live in the present and the past. I have only realized the last few years that time is not linear. We are constantly dipping in and out of the past, the present and the future. We are living it all at the same time.

Graham Swift has written a complex book that tries to blend this truth with the other truth that "our" stories are not solely ours. We are part of history, of communities and families. Our inner worlds bump up against others and our inner worlds are shaped by historical forces.

carri farrand
May 24, 2007 carri farrand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
let's stop in for a pint. jack would've wanted it. jack would've expected it.

Jan 16, 2016 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure I can find a fault in this novel. I didn't expect to love book about crazy old people on mission to scatter the ashes of their deceased friend, but I did. All different POVs, thoughts, history, troubles going way back into their youth, lives never lived to the fullest, failures and wrong choices are what can happen to every one of us. Story of missed chances, having no choice, or making a wrong one, being happy with who you have been all your life and questioning whether that person ...more
May 12, 2012 Kristin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I feel the need with this review to point out that my rating has to do with how much I enjoyed the book/how much I got out of it rather than how I would rate the book as a piece of literature, capable of standing the test of time, etc. This is a technically accomplished novel, interesting characterization, but it just didn't do it for me. It was too straightforward with the narrative to interest me on that score and the characters created, while feeling quite true to life with all their faults a ...more
Nov 07, 2014 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful elegant, so real. The story moves back and forth between past and present, from character to character. Most of the time, for me, this doesn't work very well. It takes a talented writer to be able to pull this off so that the reader can follow along without confusion and so the story doesn't break up and fall apart. Graham Swift is a success in every way. He beautifully captures the feelings, thoughts, and dreams of each and every character. The relationships betwe ...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Unfortunately I couldn't connect to this book..the language, the words, the English working class just could not engage with my 2011's mind in any way.
May 24, 2016 gaudeo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this book 3 1/2 stars. Swift is a good writer, and the structure of the book is interesting. Each chapter takes the point of view of one of several characters, most of them the men who comprise the protagonists. The main story line--four men take a road trip to scatter the ashes of a fifth man, who was their good friend--progresses forward in time, yet many chapters go back in time to enrich the individual characters and their stories. All of this is very promising, yet some essential som ...more
Last Orders is a seemingly simple story about very complex relationships. Jack Dodds has made a last request to have his ashes scattered at sea. The novel takes us through that day as Jack's friends gather in the pub and set off to fulfill his wishes. Over the course of the day, we learn about their friendships interwoven with individual and collective stories.

I was caught off-guard by the subtlety and layers of the characters. The dialogue was remarkably nuanced with all the subtext you would
May 04, 2014 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Swift's Booker Prize-winning novel from 1996. Some have noted similarities between it and Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, but that does not detract from its quality which has been evident in Swift's writing since his earlier success with Waterland (a novel that was short-listed for the Booker). While I found it a bit slow at first, it eventually evolved into a captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keeper, second-hand
As with Waterland, Swift has, again, bypassed my brain and gone straight for my heart; that is, I felt this rather than understood it. And, as with Waterland, I'd feel dishonest giving it four stars but don't doubt that it'll get there on a second reading. He has a real talent for making the mundane beautiful.

I have been close to encountering this story twice in my life. I distinctly remember nearly buying it back in the 90's based purely on the (pint glass) cover, but this was probably more due
An apparent homage to Faulkner's 'As I lay Dying', a long drawn out funeral entourage is used to outline in falshback the entangled lives of a group of Londoners and their relationship with the dead man, Jack Dodds, whose ashes they are carrying to be scattered on the sea at Margate.
The writng style is plain, reflecting the austerity of the post war setting of a lot of the reminiscence. The story is engaging and was made into a star studded film and yet someting about the book does not quite wo
I listened to the amazing audiobook version of this (on cassette, no less). Multiple narrators helped to make the frequently-shifting perspectives easier to keep track of while listening. I don't know that one narrator could have really managed it. The book centers on a group of men (and a couple of wives given occasional voice) as they travel together to release the ashes of one of their own. The perspective shifts between the characters and the time frame shifts between the present-day journey ...more
Ludmila Kovaříková
Aug 04, 2015 Ludmila Kovaříková rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: klasika
Depresivní příběh. Oceňuji práci s hlasy jednotlivých postav. Nabízí se mi otázka, zda život není jen přežívání (melancholická nálada knihy, rekapitulace života, bezmoc). Zamlžují podobně naše osobní tragédie pocit štěstí?
Jonathan Ayres
Jan 08, 2016 Jonathan Ayres rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got about a third of the way through this and wasn't sure that I would make it to the end. It seemed to pick up after that and I read the rest of it much more quickly. All in all an enjoyable read and recommended.
Kathy Ahn
Dec 02, 2008 Kathy Ahn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
Four grown men and the follies of their lives and relationships, and the love that ties and keeps them all together. They carry the ashes around from the bar to the meadows to the cathedral and to the end of a dirty old pier and each tells his own story along the way.

It's an easy read, but read the first 50 pages straight through or else you'll get confused about who's who like I did and have to re-read them. The relationships are complex and interwoven and riddled with deceit and disappointment
Vit Babenco
Jul 02, 2014 Vit Babenco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“First you count the years, the decades, then suddenly it's hours and minutes.”
We live and our time is slowly running out. We pass away but to those who knew us we leave memories. And if these memories are good we will be remembered longer.
“It evens out, because in one direction there's what's ahead and in another there's the memory, and maybe there's nothing more or less to it than that, it's nothing more or less than what you should expect, a good thing between two bad things.”
The present and
Oct 26, 2009 Darryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a deceptively simple novel. On its face it tells the tale of four Englishmen honoring the last wishes of a deceased buddy. The deceptive part is that through an adroit use of dialect and an insightful presentation of the lives of these men, and their related women, we get a rich psycho-sociological snapshot of the English zeitgeist of the late 20th C. This book apparently caused a stir in some quarters with charges about the author's sources, and some charges of being hackneyed. Don't kn ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Saville
  • Something to Answer For
  • Holiday
  • The Old Devils
  • The Elected Member
  • How Late It Was, How Late
  • G.
  • The Conservationist
  • Offshore
  • Rites of Passage (To the Ends of the Earth, #1)
  • Staying On
  • In a Free State
  • Sacred Hunger
  • Moon Tiger
  • The Siege of Krishnapur (Empire Trilogy, #2)
  • Heat and Dust
  • The Ghost Road (Regeneration, #3)
  • True History of the Kelly Gang
Graham Colin Swift FRSL (born May 4, 1949) is a British author. He was born in London, England and educated at Dulwich College, London, Queens' College, Cambridge, and later the University of York. He was a friend of Ted Hughes.

Some of his works have been made into films, including Last Orders, which starred Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins and Waterland which starred Jeremy Irons. Last Orders was a
More about Graham Swift...

Share This Book

“It makes you feel sort of cheap and titchy. Like it's looking down at you, saying, I'm Canterbury Cathedral, who the hell are you?” 1 likes
“What job do you want to do?
And I see them all hanging up before me, like clothes on a rack, all the jobs, tinker, tailor, soldier, and you have to pick one and then you have to pretend for the rest of your life that that's what you are. So they aint no different really from accidents of birth. I didn't know that phrase then but I learnt it later. It's a good phrase...”
More quotes…