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The Living

2.9  ·  Rating details ·  82 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
There is a certain number of breaths each of us has to take, and no amount of care or carelessness can alter that.

This is the story of two lives. Claire is a young single mother working in one of England’s last surviving shoe factories, her adult life formed by a teenage relationship. Is she ready to move on from memory and the routine of her days? Arun, an older man in a
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 16th 2016 by 4th Estate
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The title and the blurb aptly describe the book, so nothing much of the story from my part.
What I would like to say is that it is a slow moving book, and the pace slows down as it proceeds. .. and towards the end, there are a few loose ends which we can interpret or built upon in our own way.
The two protagonists of this story are Claire, a young British woman and Arun, an old Indian man who live in their own countries, and the only fact connecting them is that they both work in the footwear trad
Mar 07, 2016 rated it liked it
“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

----Dr. Seuss

Anjali Joseph, an award-winning Indian author, pens her new novel, The Living, that unfolds the story of two characters' daily lives, their past mistakes, their shortcomings and their daily mundane routine, set in two different continents of the world. The story is unique yet it could have been much more better with lots of character and plot development.


There is a certain number of breaths each of us has to take
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
There are books that the reader finishes and fails to see the Author's point (or what the publisher saw). Any of the parties could be at fault, but this book was one such.

The book narrates two parallel tales. Claire, working in a shoe factory in Britain, is a single mom of a teenager. Her monochrome life is stifling and so she tries to find spark in affairs only to be disappointed or guilty.

The other track is of Arun the last of the Kolhapuri chappal makers. His sons and grandsons have moved on.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, international
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a strange book to read. Not bad, just not entirely complete. It is the story of two people, a single mum in England, and an elderly grandfather in India. There is no connection between them (though I did search for one) and they never meet - they just share the profession of making shoes. That missing link was the first thing that bothered me. Another was the lack of conflict and thus development. Yes, they ha
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
The story of two people running in parallel, one in England, the other in India. Claire, a single mother who works in a shoe factory, one of the last ones in England. Arun is a worker making chappals (slippers) in Kolhapur.

The book is a recounting of their lives, their humdrum everyday life, where for Claire, nothing ever seems to change, while for Arun, has all the indignities that come with old age to face .

It might have been interesting had the writing been more evocative. In this case, it wa
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Living is a gift though each of us has trials and tribulations. Leading a dull, unvarying life is a choice.Flexibility and willingness to experience change and growth is another.

Claire, a shoe factory worker in England and Arun, a chappal maker in India both have uneventful lives. The story alternates between these two voices and enumerates the choices they felt should have been made to control their destinies.

The digital copy was difficult to read and contained many spacing errors. The text was
Two alternate lives - Claire working in a shoe factory in England and Arun working as a chappal maker (which is featured on the cover) in Kohalpur. He is just doing what his father and grandfather before him did. Both characters lead humdrum lives and both wonder what would have happened if things had worked out differently in their respective worlds.

I unfortunately did not understand that the book was portraying the two lives and the workings of the mind of the characters till the very end. The
Patricia Moren
May 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was a story of two people, living parallel lives, in different countries. Interesting concept but didn't read as one story. Very slow moving, lacking inspiration and no real conclusion.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it
A fairly short, well written book, but seems to be two stories, that have little connection.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
I just could not understand where the author was going with this book. It felt like the two parts of the story just ended half way through.
It was well written.
Apr 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: indian-writers
In The Living Anjali Joseph brings us a tale of two rather unremarkable people.

Claire is a single mum living in England with a teenage son. Thousands of miles away in India lives Arun, an elderly, reformed alcoholic whose relationship with his wife and children has never been close. The one thing that connects these two individuals is their work in the shoe industry and the pride they take in turning out a quality product.

For Claire, the mass-produced shoes she assembles on a production line sti
A novel consisting of two parallel but unconnected stories: Claire, a single mother living in England and working in a shoe factory, and Arun, a grandfather in India who makes traditional, handcrafted sandals. There's a great deal of attention to the craft and meaning of shoes from both of them, but other than that, no obvious similarities between their stories.

Claire is lonely and emotionally closed off, struck in an antagonistic relationship with both her teenage son and her elderly parents, w
Cathy Geagan
Jul 13, 2016 rated it liked it
The Living is the first of Anjali Joseph’s books I have read, despite her previous offerings Saraswati Park and Another Country coming highly recommended. As a result, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from it, and having read it I am not entirely sure what I think about it.

The Living tells two stories, in alternate sections, of two very different people on opposite sides of the world. Claire is a single mother in her 30s who works in a shoe factory in England. Arun is a shoemaker in India,
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: firstreads
I was given this book by Goodreads and it is not my usual genre of choice but I like to move out of my comfort zone occasionally. The book introduces us to two characters who seemingly have nothing in common other than being employed in the shoe making trade.
We look inside their heads and read their thoughts, there is very little actual dialogue and when there is, no speech marks are used which I found a little confusing.
Whilst living in the present, their thoughts are often in the past. Clair
Kelly (purplebookstand)
The Living

This book tells the story of two different people on two different continents. The blurb intrigued me and I was looking forward to reading it.

First we meet Claire. Claire lives in the Uk and is a single mother who works in a shoe factory. Arun is a recovered alcoholic and grandfather who lives in India and makes chappals for a living.

Apart from the fact they both make footwear for a living, Claire and Arun's stories run parallel to each other. We explore their pasts, their loves and
Karen Carter
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I was really intrigued by this book after looking at the blurb and couldn’t wait to get started it very much sounded like a book I would love as I enjoy character led novels.
The story portrays two characters both living relatively uneventful lives in different countries but sharing a profession and perhaps a frustration with life as it stands. Beyond this I could see little link or entwining of their stories – maybe I was missing something.
Sarah-Jayne Windridge-France
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
In all honesty I wasn't sure that the 'split' story would work for me - but it couldn't have segued better. I absolutely loved the mother/son relations and the guttural reality and normality of that prose ... but then the aged, gentle Indian soul captured my senses and I was drawn to his present and his past.

I opened my eyes and breathed in the cigarettes and the leather, I felt the splosh of the cheap cider and balked at the illiciness of the carnal relations. Classless, coarse and challenging
Anne Goodwin
Mar 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: diversity-2016
Claire is a thirty-five-year-old single mother, her days bounded by tidying up after her son, the routine of her job in one of England’s last remaining shoe factories and her own fear of change. Estranged from her parents since their unsupportive response to her pregnancy, she worries about her son’s future while hoping for love with a man she meets at the pub. Arun is a sixty-seven-year-old grandfather who makes hand-crafted chappals at home. A recovered alcoholic, veteran of a long-ago extrama ...more
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I breezed trough this story, and to start off with really loved it. The story concentrates on 2 shoe makers in different countries, England and India. Both characters are complete contrasts, and we get a good insight into each of their lives. I found it wonderfully interesting to read, and the writing style made it an easy read.
I feel like the story was left unfinished, and I had no resolution to the points in their lives we left them at, which is frustrating. I think just a little more insight
Jantine Kampes
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
I received a free copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

From the blurb this book looked very promising, but it wasn't all that great. It's not that it's too long - I could read it within a couple of hours. It was more that it was too short, it felt like there was missing so much of the stories, in which the main characters didn't seem to have anything in common apart from their making shoes. After finishing the book, I am left with the feeling of 'is this all?' and perhaps that w
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Proof received via Netgalley. The copy I had was full of errors and erroneous spaces in words that made it difficult to read.

I honestly didn't understand the point of this book, unfortunately. Nothing really happened, no-one learnt any lessons and there was really no plot to speak of. I enjoyed Arun's chapters more than Claire's, whose dialect and lack of commas I found hard to parse. I'm also not a big fan of books without quote marks for speech, as it makes it tough to discern what is spoken
Jul 22, 2016 added it
Review for the Sunday Times:

– It's a long way from the morning till the end of the day, a long long stretch. –

– There was a sweetness to being hungover. Life was simple. –

– What is it, I thought, about this work; the same thing, over and over, it takes your life but in the process it gives you this quiteness, it takes away the struggle. –

– It is the living we should pity, for the life they have yet to go through. –

– One is always going to die, from the moment of having be
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Whilst this book was very well written and certainly had plenty of potential, it just simply didn’t deliver. The lives of the two core characters, never crossed and was seemingly unconnected. It was quite simply the musings of two people. A book without a point.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
Alan Stuart
A single mother in England, a dying man in India, two lives connected only by the fact the first makes shoes in a factory while the other makes shoes the traditional way in his home. A strange lyrical book that doesn't entirely gel
Eileen Hall
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not a book I warmed to unfortunately.
Characters were not that believable.
I was given a digital copy of this book by the publisher Harper Collins via Netgalley in return for an honest unbiased review.
Benjamin Judge
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. So much is done with so little. Anjali Joseph really captures the sensation of seeming to exist without living, the slow ticking of the everyday. Great writing.

(won in a Goodreads Giveaway)
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jan 28, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-extra
mrs a j medhurst
rated it it was ok
Mar 30, 2018
Amit Saha
rated it liked it
Mar 10, 2018
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Anjali Joseph was born in Bombay in 1978. She read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, and has taught English at the Sorbonne. More recently she has written for the Times of India in Bombay and been a Commissioning Editor for ELLE (India). She graduated from the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia with distinction in 2008. Saraswati Park is her first novel.

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