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If This Is Home
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If This Is Home

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  80 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
A dazzling first novel from the critically acclaimed author of Ten Stories About Smoking.

Mark Wilkinson has three names. He left his own behind in the rainy north of England. American immigration knows him as Joe Novak. And at the Valhalla, the mysterious complex where he sells lofty ambition and dark desires, he goes by Mr Jones.

Since he was eighteen, Mark has been runnin
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Picador (first published 2012)
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Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, arc
Joe Novak is having a bit of a crisis. For the past few years he's been working at the Valhalla, a posh getaway where middle-aged rich men get to have all of their wishes granted and desires realized. Joe likes his job well enough and he's making good money, too--but he's also slowly losing his mind. He is haunted by his past, especially by the memory of his first love, Bethany. He's even starting to "see" and have involved conversations with her. His coworkers are worried about him, and Joe isn ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Definitely the most interesting thing about Stuart Evers' new novel If This Is Home is the ultra-rich Las Vegas condo complex Valhalla where our narrator is working as the book opens, a great symbol for everything wrong with America right now: a glittering house of cards designed expressly to fleece the em
Joy Clark
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, netgalley-arc
Note: due to the nature of this book, I'm going to avoid details as much as possible in the following rant. To the people who loved this book: please help, because I feel like I am missing something. I actually spent 30 minutes last night tossing and turning trying to figure out what I missed - and I came up with nothing. Zip. Nada. The writing was good, the pace excellent (I stayed up way too late last night finishing it), but that storyline, the plot? Didn't connect with it. I get it, it's all ...more
William Brandon III
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
So I've been a a bit prejudiced lately: I pine for long, luxurious, complicated sentences and words, more resplendent and evocative than the ideas they represent. With the exception of one author (dead now, unfortunately) I have found modern literature disappointing: short, direct sentences, uncomplicated and unoriginal plots, and frankly a lack of spark. Mr. Evers, as I intimated to my wife, has emerged (finally) as a "living" author I can truly say inspires me. This novel, though it started si ...more
Doug Dosdall
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was a bit of a mess. It is two really separate stories in some ways (from different periods of a single character's life). Except I don't see the current character in the 10 year old character and vice-versa. The part of the story set in Las Vegas just goes nowhere as far as I can see and doesn't come to any conclusion. And the central mystery is just kind of pointless as well when you discover it. Not sure what I missed.
P.C. Dettmann
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Stuart Evers's first novel is extremely good. This is a split story, which I am liking less as a type than ever. At least both strands focus on the same cast this time, but still it is a risk for writer and reader alike. Evers just manages to pull it off, but only just, and relies on flashbacks even in the "present" strand, which almost proves the weakness inherent in the structure.

But with that comment out of the way, this is an original story well-told. Having seen Evers make his first public
David Hebblethwaite
Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
The author of last year’s excellent Ten Stories About Smoking returns with his first novel, which continues to explore how life may fall short of one’s dreams. Evers’ protagonist is Mark Wilkinson, who escaped his life in Cheshire and made it in America as ‘Joe Novak’; when we meet him in the early 2000s, he’s in Las Vegas , selling apartments at the ultra-high-end Valhalla complex. Alternate chapters chronicle a day in 1990 when Mark’s teenage girlfriend Bethany Wilder became a reluctant beauty ...more
Saffron Dennis
Oct 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Saffron by:
I have to note my annoyance first because this went from slight irritation to full on agitation by the end. Every paragraph a character was lighting a cigarette. It was almost as if the author got lazy and couldn't actually come up with a new character without shadowing his own obvious obsession with nicotine. I discovered after reading the book he has already written short stories about smoking, the man is truly addicted.

Anyway back to the story, it was a disjointed read at first with the Las V
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This reminded me of the Catcher in the Rye or Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlisy - I enjoyed it thoroughly and read it in only four or five sittings - it was heart wrenching and enjoyable all in one and something I felt was easily relatable - I was drawn in effortlessly
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
When he left the UK, Mark Wilkinson also left behind his name and entered the US as Joe Novak. By now, he is known as Mr Jones and selling apartments in Las Vegas. But something from his past is haunting him, he has episodes, hears voices or better: one voice: the one of Bethany, his girl-friend when he was still a teenager and living in England. He is thirty now and Bethany has been dead for thirteen years. He had wanted to leave their sad hometown together with her, to build a life together in ...more
Linda Willimer
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Colette Walters Walden
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Colette by: Nobody. The author's name rang a bell.
Evers shares dark and anxious situations that can exist within marriages and within the child-parent relationships. The tension he skillfully creates took me by surprise initially, and then gradually won my admiration. Life on earth is not perfect. Everyone doesn't live happy-go-lucky lives.

The dark tone reminds me of the line from Tolstoy: Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Steven Pilling
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is one of the books i find occasionally . It reading as voyeurism . Its beautiful in parts but i never feel i am in the room or involved . some great writing some fantastic passages but i couldnt ever feel involved
Anna Pye
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read. Terribly sad. Mixed sympathy for the lead character worked really very well indeed.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle
I really liked the opening scene and the sense of loss that pervades the novel. The plot, however, never grabbed me.
Jill Elizabeth
Sep 12, 2017 marked it as didn-t-finish-or-done-with
Shelves: gave-up-on
"Las Vegas, you realize, runs not on money, but on the perniciousness of hope....Watching hope, and those that have it, destroys you."

I wanted to like this one, It had a lot of very promising elements - a great plot (reinvented selves and the way our pasts always seem to catch us up), cool setting (the Valhalla is, literally, a dream come true for its visitors, strong writing (see the above quote). But somehow it never came together for me, and I found myself caring not one w
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
A really enjoyable read and surprising as it was a random choice from the library shelves. The plot is split into two time lines, the first sees Joe Novak trading apartments/experiences in a fancy hotel in Las Vegas to rich American men, however he is falling apart and has flashbacks to his life 13 years earlier as Mark Wilkinson an 18 year old on the brink of running away with his girlfriend Bethany to New York. At the same time as we hear of life for Mark in suburban cheshire village on outski ...more
I came to this book with no prior knowledge of author or content other than 'young talent'. I was immediately caught up in twin narratives: the edgy and surreal Las Vegas real estate world to which Mark has 'escaped' and the fateful day Bethany his girlfriend was carnival queen 13 years earlier. The British small town mentality and lives of teenagers is brilliantly evoked in the latter. Evers is adept at detail, incident and back-story but it never feels superfluous or baggy. The second half of ...more
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Desperation to leave what is sure to be small town stagnation to pursue the dream of something different can sometime distort your sense of the past. But when the past intrudes in a slight different disguise and you are forced to return to the place you've spent you whole life running from, the truth of the past come painfully rushing back to greet you. It's somewhat of a detective story, and it's use of flashbacks works to drive the search for the truth about oneself and about what it means to ...more
Daniel Parsons
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the most fantastic way this was not what I was expecting at all. A realist ghost story intertwining past and present, North England, Las Vegas and the continual presence of New York. It's a masterpiece of careful character building and slow reveals and a genuinely immersive plot. More please.
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A neat and disquieting story tweaking familliar themes of teenage origins and escapes. You can't take the satellite town out of the boy.
Dan (aka Utterbiblio)
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
great. long review soon.
Dec 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
Naaaah did not do it for me - surprised at the high level reviews.
Shaun Lake
rated it it was amazing
Aug 18, 2016
Sandy Pfaff
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Apr 27, 2014
rated it liked it
Feb 11, 2017
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Oct 25, 2013
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Formerly a bookseller and editor, Stuart Evers is a writer and reviewer. His short stories have appeared in The Best British Short Stories 2012, Prospect and on The Times website. He has reviewed for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph and New Statesman. He lives in London.

His first book was published in 2011, a collection of short stories enti
More about Stuart Evers