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A Family and a Fortune
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A Family and a Fortune

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  50 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Edwin Muir wrote of Ivy Compton-Burnett in the Observer: 'Her literary abilities have been abundantly acknowledged by the majority of her literary contemporaries. Her intense individuality has removed her from the possibility of rivalry. .. . She takes as her theme the tyrannies and internecine battles of English family life in leisured well-conducted country houses. To Mi ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 25th 1983 by Penguin (first published 1939)
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May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favourite so far of the novels of Ivy Compton-Burnett. Now almost forgotten, her dialogue-driven caustic social commentaries were very popular in the middle of the 20th century. This one is a little bit less like a play than some, with more narrative that's not dialogue, but almost all of the action takes place in one house and the characters' clever, cutting remarks still dominate the plot.

It's the story of the Gaveston family through first the arrival of a malicious, embittered aunt
Gareth Evans
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I bought this in a jumble sale thinking that it might be one of those relatively light 1930s in the style of Delafield. However, this is a very, very different style of novel. Almost completely dialogue-driven with hardly any description other than the physical characteristics of the protagonists, this is a very difficult book to read. It requires far more attention to the text than almost any novel I have read. It was a real effort and far outside my experience. Yet, the experience is beguiling ...more
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I read in an interview with Hilary Mantel that she obsessively reads and rereads Ivy Compton-Burnett. Remembering that I enjoyed a novel by Compton-Burnett many years ago I decided to try another, and picked A Family and a Fortune, which I think was her first. It dealt with interesting themes and had consistent characters, and I loved the ending, but in spite of that I gave it only two stars. Every page was all or nearly all dialogue, with no transitions from a conversation held one day to one h ...more
Camille de Fleurville
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I know that this book is up to the four stars I give it and yet I had difficulties reading it. But none by Ivy Compton-Burnett's have. I try and try again, see the merits, the work done over the style, the indirect psychological studies, the indirect definition of characters through dialogue, the manipulation of time, the brilliant dialogues - I saw these all and yet I am never interested enough to read fast or to close read.
Perhaps the day will come when I am ready for the novelist and her nov
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wow, this stuff is dense. There were times I nearly gave up, but then, a little like Scandi-Noir, boy did the story pick up. Melancholic and bitchy, I found. Not sure I'll read another, but glad I gave it a go. Also, kept thinking I was reading Wharton or James, not an English author- not sure yet why.
May 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
Hated the book - couldn't get through it. Conceit of writing almost entirely in dialogue grew tiresome and became difficult to figure out which character is saying what. Didn't find the satiric elements particularly amusing or revealing, probably due to lack of familiarity with the milieu being satirized.
Sep 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: british
Too much bickering, funny for a while but rather annoying after about 100 pages of it. The style is entertaining but the story line is just too slow to carry the myriad of bitter comments about each other.
Melusine Parry
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a strange and amazing book! I had expected something very classical, a kind of bonnet romance, but not at all. It's almost all conversation - extremely stylised, odd, almost surrealistic conversation - between members of a family. Well worth discovering - it's unlike anything I've read before.
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
I read this because John Waters recommended this author's work. It was ok, but really not my style of book.
Jul 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Oh Lord, the interminable blather made me want to toss this book across the room. Eventually I became interested in the characters and where they were going.
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Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett, DBE was an English novelist, published (in the original hardback editions) as I. Compton-Burnett. She was awarded the 1955 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for her novel Mother and Son.
More about Ivy Compton-Burnett