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Wild Abandon

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  855 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
At a once vibrant communal-living property in the British countryside, back-to-basics fervor has given way to a vague discontent. A place that once buzzed with activity, from the polytunnels to the pottery shed, now functions with a skeleton crew. Founder Don Riley surveys his domain with the grim focus of someone who knows what’s best for everyone—and isn’t afraid to let ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Random House (first published January 1st 2011)
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Larry H
Feb 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Sometimes you read a book and once you've finished it, you know right away whether or not you liked it. And then there are times when you finish a book and you have no idea what to make of it. Joe Dunthorne's Wild Abandon is definitely a book that falls into the latter category for me. Pieces of the story I really loved, but sadly Dunthorne took the story into some really strange places, which definitely tempered my feelings overall.

Freya and Don Riley have lived in a commune-type community in
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
I liked this book less and less as it went on... I only finished it because it was such a quick read. It did include a lot of clever writing and quirky turns-of-phrase, and I give it credit for this--it's what attracted me to it in the first place from just having read the first chapter or two. But ultimately, I just ended up not connecting with any of the characters and I didn't care what happened to them. I wasn't curious to see how anyone's story ended up.

I re-read part of the Washington Post
May 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Melissa by: Katie
It's so nice when a random book recommended by a co-worker who may not have the same taste as you turns out to have exquisite writing. When Kate's boyfriend's mother gives her lingerie, "Kate hoped her face for stunned horror was the same as her face for happy surprise." Or "Albert had a bad feeling that there was literally no one he could think of who wasn't in some very significant way a letdown." And when Albert gets on the roof at the party near the end to give his speech about the end of th ...more
Lane Ashfeldt
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
So, I never read Submarine or saw the film that was made of it, though I may yet do both of these things. I got this second novel, 'Wild Abandon', from my local library in Wales on a day when I was working to avoid chilly crime books (of which they keep plenty in stock). I wanted something different and I guess I got it. I really liked bits of this book, the shower scene at the start was great, and after a while I was sure it would end with another shower scene. (It did.) Joe Dunthorne has a way ...more
Jul 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Wild Abandon is less wild abandonment and more cautious rebellion. From the parents who leave the status quo to start their own independent community (but with the backing of their wealthier friend Patrick) to the children who leave the community to re-enter mainstream schooling and Kate who just wants a normal house and boyfriend this novel takes baby steps around a small group of characters. In itself not a bad thing, but when the blurb says 'save the community with a rave' and what actually h ...more
Howard McEwen
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Telling truths goes a long way with me. In a couple of ways, Wild Abandon did that (although I'm not sure it was intended) then any redemptive aspects fall off a cliff.

There's a bit of truth said about the traditional roles of men and women in society. A woman just won't respect a man who abdicates his traditional role as provider especially while he clings to the perquisites of being the 'head of the household' (or commune, in this case). Oh, and usually, the chick will go with the guy with cas
Nastya Khyzhniak
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it
In one of his interviews, Joe Dunthorne said that one might never really know his/her friends. After many years of knowing each other, he learned the story of his friend's communal childhood. It kept coming back to him and so he asked her permission to write about it. However, it's not totally her story, more like an echo of the real events, a mixture of the existing commune stories.
Living in a city doesn't always work out, you lose your dream and settle down for a job you desperately hate, for
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Smart, moody people living on their own sort of commune in Wales. Hippies are not always easy to live with. This book is about people growing out of things, letting go of things. Freya wants out of her marriage with Don. Patrick wants out of the commune. Teenager Kate wants to go to college. And eleven-year-old Albert is convinced the world is ending. Albert's lack of coping skills eventually takes over the story, and I'm left feeling incredibly sorry for him.

This reads like a screenplay--lots o
Joel Brown
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, humor
Read this after Submarine in hopes I would like it more and really did. This one's just as if not more funny but also wildly compassionate. It's the tale of a present day commune in Wales - apparently it's still the 70s for some people there, including Kate 17 and Albert 11, the children of two of the founders. They're hippie dippy enough that these two siblings are showering together after messy barnyard chores as the book opens. Everything is on the cusp of change for them, though, and not jus ...more
Jun 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, commune
Gently satirical novel about the discontented existences of a group of people who have dedicated their lives to living in a commune in the countryside. Some parts of this are sharply drawn and humorous, but other parts flit around too much instead of staying with the perspective and actions of a single character; this has the effect of painting a portrait of a place, but it also inhibited my ability to care about what happened. Although the story is centered on the children of the arrogant commu ...more
Emily Sapp
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I gave up on Love in the Time of Cholera for the time being. Found this in the Lucky Day section at the library and already like it after 20 pages.
Dec 17, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Bored to Death book club
Jun 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
For every book we read during the book club, one of our book club members will write a review. This way anyone who couldn't be there, can still join in with the fun! Our third review is of Wild Abandon by Joe Dunthorne written by Roy den Boer.

Joe Dunthorne's Wild Abandon takes place in Blaen-y-Lin, a commune in Wales that appears to be on its last legs. Membership is down, there are almost no children to provide a future for the commune, and resentments have been building up toward the boiling p
Evan Lien
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, ebook, uk
Some of the best sentences from "Wild Abandon":

She was so lithe as to be, Don later claimed, ‘indistinguishable from the water she passed through’.

‘You thought it was chemical attraction; she thought it was paint fumes.’

Back in the house, they found Kit Lintel pouring orange juice into Kit Lintel’s father’s laptop.

In the live music yurt, a man was either doing a very downbeat, a cappella, unplugged version of ‘Help!’ by The Beatles or he was genuinely asking for assistance.

All in all, it's ve
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I should really have considered it fair warning when I realised the top quote on the back of the book jacket was by Nick Hornby.

Like I imagine many other readers, I read this having previously enjoyed Joe Dunthorne's debut novel, Submarine. While Wild Abandon seemingly has quite a lot in common with Submarine - a quirky, dark sense of humour; a dryly witty, apathetic teenage boy; depressing Welsh Welsh things - it lacks the plot and character investment. Honestly, it wasn't bad enough to give up
Ron Charles
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Philip Larkin’s bitter poem about the influence of our parents — “They [mess] you up, your mum and dad” — could be the epigraph of Joe Dunthorne’s second novel, “Wild Abandon.” But Dunthorne marinates dysfunction in sweet absurdity to produce a wry comedy, the latest addition to that black-sheep genre known as Quirky Families. You’ve seen these people: They’re staples of indie films such as “Little Miss Sunshine” or novels such as Kevin Wilson’s recent “The Family Fang.” In such stories, psychol ...more
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I've finally read all of Joe Dunthorne's novels!
I think this is my least favourite but it is still an enjoyable read.
It has a 2012 cult; it has awkward adults and teenagers; it is also full of Joe Dunthorne's classic humour.
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, used-to-own
When your first novel has been successful, it adds pressure onto the second. This is the situation facing Joe Dunthorne, as his debut ''Submarine'' won several awards, was adapted into a film and came highly praised by The Bookbag. This means ''Wild Abandon'' has to be rather good to keep his reputation intact.

Kate and Albert are two teenagers growing up in a commune in Wales. Kate is becoming more and more unsatisfied with the restraints of this life, whilst Albert is devoted to Kate and eagerl
John Luiz
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wild Abandon offers a fun, slightly satirical portrait of a commune in contemporary Wales. The commune, Blaen-y-Llyn, has been running for twenty years. But in the timeframe of the novel just about everyone is trying to get out of it. The only one trying to keep everything together is Don, one of the founders and self-appointed leader, whose family members are the focal characters of the book. Don is a bit pompous, still dedicated to the virtues of home schooling, sustainable housing, and living ...more
Ian Young
Wild Abandon is the second novel by Joe Dunthorne, after the very successful (and funny) Submarine, which was also made into a good independent film. Submarine was about adolescence, and Wild Abandon in part is set in similar territory, reflecting the fact that Dunthorne is still a very young writer. It is a comic novel set in a commune in South Wales - Kate is the adolescent daughter of the founders and leaders of the commune (Don and Freya), and Albert is her pre-adolescent younger brother. Th ...more
This unconventional coming-of-age story takes place on a Welsh commune and follows the stories of the residents as they deal with the disintegration of their "community" living situation. Following Kate & Albert, a teenage girl and her eleven-year-old brother, their unusual upbringing is causing internal questions and confusion in Kate as she grows up and attends school outside of their commune. Albert, a precocious young boy who believes one of the commune residents' rants that the world is ...more
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Did I love the entire aspect of a novel centered around a commune? Most certainly. Did Joe Dunthorne carry out such an aspect rather well? Yes. Was I absolutely gripped into the plot? As soon as I started reading!

Dunthorne's novel provides an interesting setting for what's basically a combination coming-of-age and middle-age-crisis tale. Though I couldn't identify much personally with breakaway Kate, maturing Albert, in-control Don, or tired Freya, I could easily see where most of their actions
Maya Panika
Sep 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Raised in a commune, Kate chooses to rebel by running away to suburbia. Her younger brother, Albert, feeling rejected, feeling lost, rebels in truly bloodthirsty fashion. Like submarine, Dunthorne’s magnificent début, this is a story about teenagers growing up and trying to distance themselves from their parents.

It’s not a particularly original theme and in less capable hands, would doubtless have been peopled with stereotypical, cliché characters, clumsy comedy and predictable situations, but
D.H. Hanni
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
Closer to 2.5 stars. If you don't like books that are told from multiple POVs then this isn't for you as the author does do some head hopping. I didn't mind that since it felt appropriate for the story but at times it was a bit unnecessary with very minor characters.

The story centers around a fading hippie commune in Wales in 2012. It starts with the 17-years-old daughter, Kate, as she is studying to take her A level exams. This requires her to leave the commune each day and she winds up meeting
I absolutely adored Dunthorne's Submarine so I had high expectations when it came to his second offering, Wild Abandon. Dunthorne's strong debut and the promise of another piss-my-pants filled reading experience made me make a promise to myself to read it in 2014 and I have now done so. Yay me!

Unfortunately, my high expectations weren't met. Don't get me wrong, there were some funny moments and I did warm to some of the characters that Dunthorne created - mostly Albert and his youthful imaginat
Dec 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wild Abandon tells the story of a community in Southern Wales. JD shows us its conception in flashbacks (some students and their old landlord escaping London's ratrace), but the main story revolves around the lives of the inhabitants during the community's demise. The main characters each struggle with the suffocating ties of freedom (yes, this does sound contradictory, so let me explain).
Patrick, former landlord turned pothead, projects his inability to break away on Janet, his former crush an
Georgie Pilgrim
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Joe's writing was fantastic. The plot, so so. The ending, ridiculous.
Marlee Pinsker
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wild Abandon satisfied me from the beginning as it was right in its tiny, visceral details. All those little moments that rang so true were skillfully orchestrated into an interesting novel. I appreciated the odd relationship between Kate, who tries to distance herself from her communal upbringing by being thoroughly hygienic and her brother Albert, who would never wash if Kate didn't make a game of getting into the shower together. I could see the breakdown of the marriage between Don and Freya ...more
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Wild Abandon is the first book I read this month and probably the one I enjoyed least. I am a big fan of Joe Dunthorne's previous book Submarine, and coincidentally the film version was directed by Richard Ayoade, the next book in this post! As I enjoyed Submarine so much, I was expecting a lot from this novel and initially I really enjoyed the story. I found the characters of Kate and Albert intriguing and hoped to learn more as I continued reading, it was funny in parts and the concept of a co ...more
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
I had read Submarine and really, really enjoyed it (even if I can't quite understand why anyone would want to turn it into a movie). Even before I realized they share an author, I was interested in Wild Abandon for the plot alone.

So: What happens to communes now that the '60s are long over? Wisely, Dunthorne focuses mainly on the kids in the community, particularly a teenage girl who goes to public high school (and is well aware of how different she is) and her much-younger brother (who is still
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Joe Dunthorne was born and brought up in Swansea, and is a graduate of the University of East Anglia's Creative Writing MA, where he was awarded the Curtis Brown prize.

His poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies and has featured on Channel 4, and BBC Radio 3 and 4. A pamphlet collection, Joe Dunthorne: Faber New Poets 5 was published in 2010.

His first novel, Submarine, the story of
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“He had a bad feeling that there was literally no one he could think of who wasn't in some very significant way a let-down.” 4 likes
“There will be birds and if they write your name in the sky then you can get on the buses and if they don't you have to die on the floor.” 0 likes
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