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A Distant Shore

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  458 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Dorothy is a retired schoolteacher who has recently moved to a housing estate in a small village. Solomon is a night-watchman, an immigrant from an unnamed country in Africa. Each is desperate for love. And yet each harbors secrets that may make attaining it impossible.
With breathtaking assurance and compassion, Caryl Phillips retraces the paths that lead Dorothy and Solom
Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published (first published January 2003)
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(showing 1-30)
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Mar 01, 2010 ·Karen· rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
"England has changed. These days it's difficult to tell who's from round here and who's not. Who belongs and who's a stranger. It's disturbing. It doesn't feel right."

Dorothy, a retired schoolteacher. She sounds like a bigot. Especially when just two pages later she says she retired when the grammar school where she taught music went comprehensive. "I was suddenly asked to teach whoever came into the school-we all were. Difficult kids I don't mind, but I draw the line at yobs."

Oh but Dorothy, D
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was just simply stunning. The prose was superb, the stories tragic. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys finely-written literature. Many readers may not like the structure of this novel, nor the fact that the story is told in almost flashback like format; it took me a little while to figure out that time is not linear in the novel.

A brief synopsis:
Set in England, there are two main characters in this novel. One is Dorothy who is in her fifties, and has retired from teaching music
Kris McCracken
Mar 15, 2011 Kris McCracken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read a few of his books, and although he’s not the most refined of writers, one thing that Caryl Phillips can do is tell a story. This story is one of two people, both lonely and exist largely outside the mainstream of society. One is a retired teacher and the other an African refugee.

Stylistically, the book's sections jump between the perspectives of the two main characters, and the story is relayed in a non-linear, broken fashion, so the reader is often caught on the back foot in terms of
An elaborate character study, with fluid prose and cunning subtext, A Distant Shore is a powerful book. A brief friendship between a repressed English schoolmarm with issues and an immigrant man fleeing his country after a bloody war, triggers the flashback - first Dorothy, then the man called Solomon. They're neither of them simple, neither of them wonderful. Much is left unsaid, but it is not so vague as to be opaque. It is also a critique on society, of England's (or more correctly, universal ...more
Feb 09, 2013 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Read this for my Transnational Fiction grad seminar. I APPRECIATE this book, but did not enjoy reading it. It shifts narrative perspective and tense too many times for my beleaguered brain to handle (which, I get it, is commentary on dislocation and the transnational/migrant experience). I found the female protagonist to be insufferable, and while I don't think I need to like a character in order to care about her story, this was certainly the case with this novel.
May 14, 2012 Croe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
meh - I felt like the non-linear narration distracted from rather than enhanced the story. Had trouble sympathizing with either of the main characters - she's obnoxious and crazy and he's relatively passive while all kinds of bad things happen to him.
Mar 16, 2011 Tuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
about a retired black professor in england. unbelievable, quiet, smooth-river prose. this won so many awards its not funny. his new book of essays comes out in may 2011
Mar 12, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a pleasant surprise this book turned out to be.
Mar 12, 2013 Merilee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really a 4.5/5
Jun 06, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
May 14, 2017 Brigid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I like most about this book: it makes you question any prejudice you still have but never really noticed before. Definitely recommended for people who like good writing, a mystery, and a book that discusses the difficult and more normalized internalization of racism.
Jun 13, 2017 Izzy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Really didn't care for Dorothy, but Solomon's story was incredible (3.5/5)
Daudi Mlengela
England has changed...
Dec 10, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deeply moving.
Mar 15, 2017 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another one read for my literature module. Wasn't sure I'd like this at first, but warmed to it as it went along and even found myself rather melancholy at the ending. Did find Dorothy to be incredibly grating and somewhat hypocritical. Much preferred the stark, lyrical beauty of Solomon's parts in the book.
Jan 07, 2013 Benji rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013

A Distant Shore is a cleverly written novel which tells the story of two people who, in all fairness, couldn't be any more different, but who finally find something in each other, after the awful trials and tribulations they have suffered throughout their lives. The author writes with deceptive simplicity; the prose is far from ornate, but its matter-of-fact manner is effective, and strikes a chord with the reader.

The novel is structured in a somewhat different fashion, beginning with what perha
Nov 10, 2009 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2003
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 25, 2008 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the story of two people whose lives follow very different paths but ultimately intersect. One an African illegal immigrant to Britain and the other a middle class sheltered English divorcee. One decends into madness and the other losses their life, so its far from a happy fairy tale. But the author is a skilled story teller and the book is populated with believable characters of all sorts with many engaging subplots and background stories. I found the Africans story a bit more co ...more
Dec 15, 2016 GONZA rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teareadingclub
Such a sad sad sad book that I still don't know if I'm happy because it was well written and deep or just because it's finished and I'm going to binge read some rubbish to recover. Anyway it's a good novel if you are one of those person who think that sadness has to be always involved in a serious story. You will find plenty here.

Uno dei libri piú tristi che abbia mai letto, infatti non ho capito se sono felice perché era profondo e ben scritto o soltanto perché l'ho finito e ora mi metto a legg
Jun 02, 2009 Weebly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book good to start but then it really lost it's way. The story started a little backwards, as it starts close to the present day telling you about the relationship between the two main characters, then went on later to give you a more in depth background to them.

Solomon had a really harrowing life, and was caught up in war in his home country in Africa, and experienced some really tough times in his life. It was amazing he turned out so nice!

The book really lost it's way, and I didn
In a small English village, Dorothy Jones lives next door to Solomon in a new development. Dorothy is a lonely, divorced retiree who is having some psychological problems. Solomon is the development’s watchman. He is an immigrant from an unnamed African country, and he volunteers to drive Dorothy to the doctor in town.

Told in a non-linear fashion, this is really two stories: how Dorothy and Solomon came to their present circumstances. And their individual stories are strikingly similar to two ot
joey t
Jul 01, 2016 joey t rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a melancholy story about a middle-aged woman who has returned to her small hometown in northern England and a younger man who has fled his war-torn African homeland. Though they have little in common on their face, both feel estranged and displaced from their city and neighbors. Though touching on issues such as racism and sexism, at its core this book is about loneliness. The book wonderfully demonstrates how sometimes we all feel like strangers in a distant place, whether that place is ...more
Carol Hu
May 24, 2013 Carol Hu rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I'm not sure about this book, maybe it is not designed for young people like me. The first part of the story was told in the tone of an old sick depressed woman and it drives me insane, the death of solomon doesn't mean anything to me. And the story of Gabriel also depresses me, I read all the way to P163 and I feel that I can't take this mental burden anymore, it's too deep and depressing for me. I really don't like it, it makes my mood worse everyday.
Apr 13, 2013 Zoey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel confronts complex emotions and prejudices through surprisingly simple language and prose. This juxtaposition combined with the erratic narrative style and a disjointed timeline makes it hard to put down. The relationship between Dorothy and Solomon encapsulates an awareness and a need for belonging, and will leave the reader questioning their own understanding of what it means to be at 'home'.
I thought this book was really thought provoking but not easy to read. There was some definite language, especially in the scenes involving war-ravaged Africa and an English Jail. I liked one quote in which she says to not look for God when you're in distress because he is busy helping you. I thought that made for an interesting thought. It was a case where of the two characters I ended up liking one and disliking the other but I thought initially my opinion would be reversed.
Jul 14, 2016 Maia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Re-reading to see if it matches my Caryl Philipps fandom in my 20s - i was also into Goytisolo (ugh, on re-reading) and Abdulrazak Gurnah (up next). Sound solid novel and very effective and intellectual over-all, depressing but main problem is I don't like the theme of repressed sexuality, it's a bit too close to home.
Jul 29, 2015 April rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to really like this book. The shifts from different time periods and perspective were often not clear to me and I found myself catching on a few sentences in.
I stuck with it because I needed to see if and how the characters were going to tie together.
I probably enjoyed the section with Solomon meeting and living with the Anderson's the best.
I loved the first two thirds of the book. The author leads the reader to think a certain way about each main character, then reveals a bit of information that throws it all into a new light. The last third, though, let me down, as all the threads are drawn together in a more straightforward manner, and there seems little hope for Dorothy.
Apr 03, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did not enjoy how it hopped around but that could be because I was tired when I started reading it. However, I did read it in one evening as it was pretty good. I had just finished What is the What and Little Bee, so the fleeing refugee part of story was kind of repetitive for me. Good book though.
Laurie Neighbors
Mar 17, 2013 Laurie Neighbors rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was on fire with this book the whole time I was reading it, and also worrying that the author was painting himself into a corner. Pretty paint. Disappointing corner. I wished maybe he'd outsourced the ending to Zoe Heller. Or taskrabbited it?

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Caryl Phillips was born in St.Kitts and came to Britain at the age of four months. He grew up in Leeds, and studied English Literature at Oxford University.

He began writing for the theatre and his plays include Strange Fruit (1980), Where There is Darkness (1982) and The Shelter (1983). He won the BBC Giles Cooper Award for Best Radio Play of the year with The Wasted Years (1984). He has written
More about Caryl Phillips...

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