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A is for Angelica

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  203 ratings  ·  34 reviews
'My life is different now. I don't go to work. I don't have an office. I stay at home, hide behind curtains and make notes. I wait for something to happen.'

Gordon Kingdom struggles with the fate of his seriously-ill wife while patiently observing and methodically recording the lives of those around him: his neighbours.

He has files on them all, including:

-Don Donald (best f
Paperback, 1st ed, 256 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Legend Press (first published August 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Maya Panika
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Oh dear lord, what a sad, tragic tale of loss and grief and the achingly slow descent into madness. And how funny it is.

Gordon Kingdom is fifty-two. He’s left his dreary job to look after Georgina, his wife, who is bed-ridden and incapacitated after a stroke. Gordon hasn’t told the doctor about his wife, making the choice to ignore reality even as it’s hitting him in the face with a spade, because he and Georgina have a pre-prepared plan, a system for her care, he knows he can look after her bet
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
'I stay at home, hide behind curtains and make notes. I wait for something to happen.'

Gordon Kingdom watches the happenings on Cressington Vale, a street in a northern town, where he lives with his wife Georgina and dog Kipling. He keeps files of notes and his observations about the lives of those on the opposite side of the street. His wife has suffered two strokes, the first of which happened eighteen months ago, and he patiently cares for her at home, trying to cope, to continue some sort of
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This accomplished and haunting first novel tells of middle-aged Gordon Kingdom who lives an ordinary life on an ordinary street with his much-loved wife Georgina and dog Kipling. But his routine existence is thrown into disarray when illness presents him with a situation that is beyond his capabilities, try as he might to do the right thing. I don’t want to go into the plot any more than that, because one of this fantastic novel’s greatest strengths is the controlled way that Broome gradually re ...more
Literary Relish
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Gordon Kingdom lives in Cressington Vale, a perfectly suburban, uncontroversial and terribly middle class street whose various characters waltz through their daily routines and, in the main, lead highly predictable lives. Apart, perhaps, from Benny the boy across the road, who between the hours of 1 and 2am every morning settles down in his bedroom to paint with his eyes closed. We know this because, whilst caring for his seriously ill wife Georgina, Gordon spends his days peeping around his cur ...more
Tim Roast
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a very sad novel about loneliness. It is told through the eyes of Gordon Kingdom who is in his 50s and who clearly has some sort of autism. Everything he does is very methodical and he takes everything literally.

One day Angelica moves in across the road from him and he opens a file "A is for Angelica" because he keeps written files on what his neighbours across the road get up to. It is some sort of therapy for him to help with his coming to terms with the state his wife is in - she's ha
Sep 26, 2013 rated it liked it
A surprisingly funny debut novel in the vein of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Gordon Kingdom is a 50-something recluse caring for his disabled wife in secret. He fancies himself an expert on his neighborhood and all its goings-on – until Angelica moves in and changes everything. Especially if your sense of humor runs to dogs committing suicide, you’ll latch on to this gentle satire set in the north of England.
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
A is for Angelica starts off on an interesting premise - the protagonist being an older man who watches his neighbours and makes notes on them while juggling his own home life. Broome pulls it off well too, and it rarely gets boring - something that I was concerned would happen as it is too steeped in reality.

The protagonist, Gordon, is well-developed, yet Broome does not employ the use of special techniques, or long descriptions to do so. Instead, what drives most of the characterisation is sim
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: physical
Very claustrophobic - most of the action either happens in Gordon's head or what he sees outside his front spare bedroom window. The chapters are in alphabetical order, starting with the titular Angelica who arrives on Gordon's street in a cloud of cigarette smoke, perfume, swear words, and intrigue. Gordon is keeping notes so he doesn't forget.

Gordon should be looking after his wife Georgina, who isn't introduced for a few chapters. Georgina has had a stroke, and Gordon's notes started with the
Andy Angel
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Gordon, the lead character in this book is a bit of an oddity. He spends all his time either looking after his wife (who has had a stroke) or spying on his neighbours (he keeps notes on all of them in his files).

He comes across at times as a mixture of Adrian Mole and the boy from The Curious Case of The Dog In The Night-time, but for all his quirks he is not a bad person.

The fact that he keeps his bed-ridden wife upstairs and tells nobody she has had a second stroke could be seen as sinister bu
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
When i heard about this book I thought it was about a proper people watcher and I thought it would be really interesting to hear the details of the people and their lives on the street Gordon lived on.

But it was different and more about his half-paralysed wife and his relationship with his new neighbour Angelica which was still good but I was just expecting it to be about more characters on the street than just them.

Of course there is Benny and Don and others who we hear about too.

I can't tell
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, netgalley
On the one hand, Gordon’s life is embedded in the factual monotony of the everyday. He watches his street, obsessively taking copious notes on what his neighbours are doing, when they do it and with whom. On the other hand his life is embedded in pretence. His wife is lying in bed, suffering the effects of a severe stroke, but he has told everyone that she is visiting relatives.

Gordon is a difficult man to like at first. He seems emotionally removed from his ill wife, who is totally dependent o
Louise Miller
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Iain Broome’s debut novel is moving, poignant and heart-breaking. A whirlwind of conflicting emotions played out by Gordon, compulsively felt by the reader.

The novel is not filled with plot twists, but instead focuses beautifully on a simple tale of love, guilt and helplessness, letting the everyday characters move the story on. The characters are brought brilliantly to life by Iain’s meticulous writing.

The story flows effortlessly and I quickly devoured it, reading it from cover to cover.
It i
Fiona Ross
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Protagonist Gordon Kingdom's narration of his story and circumstances is so immediate and direct, you are right inside his head from the off. This book is a touching and perceptive study of real lives behind the anonymous, respectable front doors of Cressington Vale. A touch of the Rose Tremain in the way the author peels back the bland pretensions of society to reveal tooth and claw underneath.
Criticism of the harsher aspects of our 'welfare' state is so deftly delivered, you don't notice it un
Apr 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
I don't quite know what to make of this novel. I actually found it difficult to read - quite dreary and depressing. Gordon's life is Boring to say the least, and maybe it's just that I don't want to read about other people leading boring lives; maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind when I read it. I didn't find it funny, which I think it was supposed to be; I think it's a little creepy, to be honest. The thought that we could all be watched from behind someone's curtains is somewhat uns ...more
Ian Hind
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Tragically moving yet occasionally darkly comical. This is a must read suburban heartbreaker,occasionally blunt and tiptoeing into melodrama. I challenge anyone not to be enthralled by George's narrative (and filing system). He will amuse you, fascinate you, very much frustrate you, and you will suffer every wince with him. Go get it now...
Renita D'Silva
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
A poignant, desperately sad tale about a man caring for his wife. His loneliness and angst is beautifully portrayed and the darkness of the tale interspersed with nuggets of humor. Read it in a gulp. Beautiful.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it
It was alright I guess.
Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Thoroughly depressing but a great book none-the-less
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I spoke to the author at a book signing when I purchased the book and he told me it was quite a sad story. A slight understatement; heart-breaking is nearer the mark. Nevertheless it's a poignant, disturbing and thought provoking novel in the age of care in the community, mental health awareness and dwindling NHS budgets. And virtually everything is left unsaid, which lets your imagination run riot. An accomplished and gloriously downbeat first novel.
Wow. First of all, I'd like to thank the publisher through NetGalley for my copy of A is for Angelica by Iain Broome.
This is a really difficult novel for me to rate, or write about, in several ways. To start with, the basic premise (without spoilers) is that our narrator, Gordon Kingdom, is a man who keeps files on all his neighbors, as he watches them through the window in his spare bedroom. His wife Georgiana has recently had a stroke, and Gordon has taken the doctor's suggestion to "write thi
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it

it is a rather unusual experience - writing a review, or rather an extended wording of opinion, on a book written by someone you know. well, i hope it’s not a big stretch to say that i know mr iain broome. i read his blog, i listen to his podcast and i’ve met him on his signing event, and most importantly he follows me back (!) on twitter. on the modern internet scale it’s safe to say that we’re acquainted.

“a is for angelica” is iain broome’s debut novel. he went the old fashioned way and publis

Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was alerted to this by Myke Hurley on Twitter, someone I know purely from his tech-related podcasts on the 70 Decibels network. My reading list is ridiculously long, so adding to it is not really something I need to be doing. But somehow, not only did this book get _added_ to my queue, not only did it appear at the _top_ of my queue, but it somehow got read, finished and starred before I knew what had happened.

And d'you know why that was?

Because it's very good, that's why!

Honestly though, I'v
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Inaugural Loop Book Club Book. And this was chosen on the back of its launch being held at the Lantern Theatre, and thus its links to Sheffield. And Mr Risby. The author and the cover designer (cover: a beautiful modernist affair inspired by the architecture of Sheffield) are closely linked to the area and bloody good chaps they both seem. A huge amount of thought and talent seems to lie behind the overall package, and I was excited about what the book actually had to offer.

Aaaaaand, I was reli
Katy Noyes
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Hard to comment on this one. I originally thought that Gordon's wife was dead and he had deluded himself into imagining her still alive.
The real story, of the stroke-ridden wife and her tired, loving and obsessive husband is sad, touching and slow. Their love story is gradually told and is achingly lovely, Gordon's constant spying and noting of his neighbours' every move creepy but almost understandable.
A very interesting novel, different but moving.
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mundane, ordinary- a beautifully observed, blackly comic story of a man coping with life. I never worked out what was going to be the outcome, so many potential threads of storylines that could have come to the fore, yet the conclusion still was very powerful. Not my normal kind of read, but excellent.
Sarah Churchill
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
A heartbreaking story that follows a protagonist that we don't always like, but we always empathise with. Touching, full of love and hurt, sometimes uncomfortable to read, but also very real. Alongside that it's also very funny. And very British. This is Dark British humour at its best.

A copy of this book was supplied by the publisher in return for an honest review
Tom Evans
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A is for Amazing
B is for Brilliant
C is for Clever
D is for a Deft hand with a pen
I could go on until Z but this author has already done a better job.

What is perhaps most incredible about this book is the themes it explores and that they are written by someone so young. More please Mr Broome.
Jun 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
"There’s a lot of dark satire encouched in this terse and straight to the point prose that makes an otherwise claustrophobic novel into something entertaining."
read more:
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There seems to be a spate of these beautiful, poignant heart-wrenching novels at the moment. I'm making a habit of crying on public transport. Recommended if you liked Elizabeth is Missing or The Extraordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, tragic, moving, and achingly funny, this is an incredibly accomplished debut. More Iain Broome please!
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Iain Broome is the author of the novel, A is for Angelica.

A graduate of Sheffield Hallam’s MA Writing programme, he has edited literary magazines, co-run a successful monthly spoken word event and currently maintains a popular website and podcast about writing, reading and publishing.

Iain lives in Sheffield with his wife and identical twin boys.

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