Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Book of Fame” as Want to Read:
The Book of Fame
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Book of Fame

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  285 ratings  ·  42 reviews
A glorious novel from the award-winning author of Mister Pip, now available as a trade paperback original from Vintage Canada.

The Book of Fame is a lyrical semi-fictional account of the 1905 All Black rugby tour of Europe - a tour that shaped New Zealand's identity, from which the players returned to find themselves accorded almost god-like status. This remarkable, award-w
178 pages
Published August 2nd 2000 by Penguin Books (first published 2000)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  285 ratings  ·  42 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Book of Fame
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting reading experience for me. The first 80 pages flew by in one sitting, and then I found myself struggling. Some of it was merely that I had other things on my mind, so regardless of what book I had, my focus probably would have been the same. But there was something else too, which I only identified by the final two chapters of this book -- this is a rather sparse book, reading a lot like poetry at times. There are many beautiful words and images to be found. However, it w ...more
Lloyd Jones has written quite an unconventional book. It is a fictionalized account of the 1905 rugby tour by the New Zealand team to the British Isles and France. This team became known as 'The Originals' and they achieved legendary status both where they toured, and at home.

Those of you not familiar or interested in rugby, or sport in general, may as well move on now. No hard feelings.

Jones describes the fiction / non-fiction status of the book as follows:
The myth of the 1905 Originals prec
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this sparsely written little book- a mixture of lyrical prose, history and fiction. I am not interested in Rugby at all but this is an astounding account of the 1905 visit of the New Zealand All Blacks to the UK. Wonderful!
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Hamish Clayton
Shelves: new-zealand, c21st, kindle
I loved this book so much, when I was reading it I wanted to share quotations from almost every page. Every page of The Book of Fame is food for thought.

Ostensibly The Book of Fame is a book is about a rugby tour, but it’s about much more than that…

The Book of Fame is a meditation on celebrity, and how the ordinary blokes from a football team learned their strange new place in a world remote from everything they knew.

Outside Tussaud’s, we noticed that unless you were a Lord or Viscount or Admi
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-novel
I borrowed this recently and greatly enjoyed it. It has the same (very) sparse prose style as his more recent books, used to great effect. I had avoided reading this as I thought it was a conventional treatment of the 1905 rugby tour of Great Britain, but while it clear Lloyd Jones knows his rugby, this is about the way the players, from colonial New Zealand, reacted to what they still called the motherland. None were professional athletes, and they came from diverse backgrounds, united by their ...more
Gary Lawrence
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” ― Margaret Mead
I have never before used the word "unique" to describe a book. I know every book is somehow different from the millions of others composed since the development of cave painting (even plagiarists apply their own own fingerprints to stolen letters). Yet every book I have read has somehow developed, grown from obvious previous roots since before Ovid wrote the Ilead. Sometimes we see a new genre - did Sherlo
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this novel about the 1905 tour of the All Blacks rugby team. The sparse, poetic storytelling gave the novel a scrap book quality which perfectly suited the story. It was a little difficult to connect with the narrator who was the collective team rather than an individual. A great book though, I would recommend it whether you like rugby or not.
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING !! Have you never read this??? You'd think a book about old school rugby would be so so boring (unless you were me and loved rugby) but this is kinda magical. Lyrical, meditative, funny and insightful. Makes you respect our long rugby tradition AND love the arts even more than you thought you already did. ...more
Oct 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
All about the 1st All Black tour of England, Wales, Scotland and France in 1908. Based on fact with an interesting story of what it might have been like, from the 6 week boat journey to their overwhelming experience of fame.
You don't have to be a rugby fan to enjoy this book.
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I loved this amazing book. Somewhere between poetry and prose, this is a story of the legendary All Blacks rugby team that dazzled Britain by its astonishing play in 1905. I enjoy Lloyd Jones' writing so much. ...more
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, historical, 2008
As with Mister Pip, this was one book that made me surf the net for hours looking for more information on its story.
Jonathan Corfe
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Set in the time of New Zealand establishing its nascent identity, a rugby team shot off on a quick nine month tour and swept almost all before them. This made them a touch famous both here and overseas and truly established rugby as our national game.
What was interesting was that at that time many New Zealanders saw Britain as home; this was the first experience for these players to see that there was a good reason many people emigrated to New Zealand and never came back. Sure, there was a cultu
George M
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a wonderfully human and observant semi-fictional account of a rugby tour. It might sound niche, but it is frequently deeply profound and universal. However a good grounding in rugby union vernacular would certainly be handy!

As a storyline, and the book is not just a story but nonetheless, it is repetitive. A team of rugby players travel from place to place, there are detailed commentaries on the matches played and the sights seen. New place, new game and new observations. Repeat.

We are t
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
This was the semi fictional account of the first All Blacks international rugby tour in 1905. Interesting to a point for a non rugby fan, it is also an interesting social experience. Fascinating to realise that their only view of England was from their parent/ grandparents who had emigrated to New Zealand years before and of course, never returned due to cost and distance. Yet these players seemed to know of so many things to look out for in England, which in reality had changed a lot since thei ...more
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reviews
A novel about rugby would not normally be my cup of tea, but Lloyd Jones’ The Book of Fame about the Original All Blacks world tour in 1905-06 is a beautifully realised story about the power of sport to transform lives, create history and engender pride in an entire nation.

To read my review in full, please visit my blog.
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nz
Paints characters Van Gogh did landscapes - vivid brush strokes capturing the essence
russell barnes
Why is it there are no brilliant fiction books about football - and you can't count the PE teacher in Kes - but rugby has at least two?

I know it's not many in the grand scheme of things but both This Sporting Life and The Book of Fame both solid gold. Books that are bigger than the sport but use it's cut and thrust to show wider truths.

The Book of Fame is a fictionalised tale of the first All Blacks tour of 1905, a collection of dates, lists, matches and encounters, lyrically told from the point
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely, surprising book, and one I didn't expect to enjoy anywhere near as much as I did. I'm no fan of team sports and a book that's ostensibly about the 1905 All Blacks tour to Europe and the US only found its way onto my shelves because I'd enjoyed Mister Pip a couple of years ago and saw it remaindered. Well, I'm glad I bought it. As the title suggests, it's as much about fame and the effects of fame as it is about rugby, but it's also about friendship, nostalgia, pain, desire. It's filled ...more
Paul Toohey
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story. The innocence and naivety of the 1905 touring party was clearly evident, and their growing amazement of the fame they generated by their outstanding performances on the field is beautifully told by Lloyd Jones albeit in a somewhat quirky style. A very good read.
Alan Wightman
Jan 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Alan by: Hamish Clayton
Fictionalised tale of the Original All Blacks on their tour to Great Britain and Ireland in 1905. Jones writes poetically in a patchwork type style - reminiscent of Ondaatje at times. The New Zealanders feel odd - they are away from their homes, which they miss, yet find themselves excelling as they lose only one game in the tour.

The feelings of excitement, discovery and home sickness are a pre-cursor of how so many NZers would feel in the future as they left their tiny, isolated home to mix it,
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
What an interesting novel - based on the 1905 All Black tour of France and Great Britain, I did not even know they had All Blacks then!

Lloyd Jones has researched the tour well, and then fleshed out the story with what may have been. It is a motley bunch that sets out by steamer for a journey to the other side of the world, but the team returns as conquering heroes. Fascinating to read of this diverse group of men and how they stole hearts wherever they went. No coach, no doc, no physio, no sposo
Sarah Shrubb
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's a very odd book, but very enjoyable too. The major problem was that it was forever hard to distinguish one player from another, but it's not really a character-based book. It's a very unusual book, aimed at doing something books are not generally aimed at doing. It gives us a picture of a group of men, a time, many places. It made me think and wonder a lot about sporting teams touring, about sporting teams per se, about the media, about having strangers in your town/city/country. I would re ...more
Nov 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Sports fans, men
I think this is a great boys book. The subject matter - the first tour of the all blacks to the UK - will resonate with every sports fan. However what takes it to another level is the stories Lloyd Jones weaves around the tour - all the historical and geographical detail you learn. Very easy to dip in and out of.
May 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I surprised myself with how much I actually enjoyed this book! I was sent it to read, and on reading the blurb, thought it wouldn't be anything like my sort of book, the word Rugby doesn't normally inspire my confidence in a book, but I found myself swept away by the simple journal type style and the brisk tales!
A fascinating study on fame and it's effects!
Dec 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Grabbing this book of the Library shelf minutes before closing, I didn't realise it was about Rugby - a game I do not watch or enjoy.
But a wet day later it gave me a captivating insight to New Zealand's passion and committment to the game.
The prose style is one I do not like, but it made for a quick read.
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's a novel but one based closely on the extraordinary exploits of the original All Blacks. In poetry and prose Lloyd Jones paints a vivid and engaging picture of the 1905 tour of the United Kingdom and France by the previously unknown New Zealand Rugby team; winning all but one game, and amassing 830 points for and only 39 against the teams fame was forever established. ...more
The 1905 All Black rugby tour of Britain lies at the heart of national myths in both New Zealand and Wales: this novel by Jones is a beguiling tale from the inside of that tour – beautifully written and marvellously evocative.
N.M. Scuri
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love this book. Even if you know nothing of rugby or the All Blacks, Jones's storytelling glows with an irresistible inner light. This book isn't easily available in the US, but well worth the search. ...more
bethandbooks Bethany Nichols
Okay, so the stars are only 2/5 but hear me out. I HAD to read this book as part of my University English course. I don't want to knock the author, I think he did a rad job, but the subject itself just does not interest me. I'm sure if you enjoyed rugby, you would enjoy this. ...more
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful, lyrical story about the first All Blacks tour. A book about a bunch of men that isn't remotely blokey. Thank you Lonely Planet for listing this in a list of recommended books by New Zealand authors. I loved it. ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Half a World Away
  • Dead Beat (Kate Brannigan, #1)
  • Night Boat to Tangier
  • Almost Blue
  • Fever Pitch
  • The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea
  • Oligarchy
  • Macerie prime. Sei mesi dopo
  • La profezia dell'armadillo
  • The Blondes
  • Dodici
  • L'elenco telefonico degli accolli
  • The Legend of Colton H. Bryant
  • The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories
  • Hamnet
  • The Cockroach
  • The Friday Night Knitting Club (Friday Night Knitting Club, #1)
  • We, the Drowned
See similar books…
Lloyd Jones was born in 1955 in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, a place which has become a frequent setting and subject for his subsequent works of fiction. He studied at Victoria University, and has worked as a journalist and consultant as well as a writer. His recent novels are: Biografi (1993); Choo Woo (1998); Here At The End of the World We Learn to Dance (2002); Paint Your Wife (2004);and Mister Pi ...more

News & Interviews

  Jordan Morris is a comedy writer and podcaster whose credits include @Midnight, Unikitty! and Earth to Ned.  The sci-fi comedy Bubble is his...
3 likes · 1 comments