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3.70  ·  Rating details ·  512 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Hannah Luckraft sells cardboard boxes for a living. Her family is so frustrated by her behavior they can barely stand to keep in touch with her. Each day is fueled by the promise of annihilation, the promise of a reprieve, the paradise that can only be found in a bottle. When Hannah meets Robert, a kindred spirit, the two become constant companions. Together and alone Hann ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 14th 2006 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2004)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  512 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Extremely dark, and I remember being dissatisfied with the ending. However, the writing absolutely blew me away. I read a lot of fiction, and very little electrifies me the way this book did.
Aug 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The first chapter of Paradise begins with Hannah, our narrator, in a hotel with no knowledge of why she's there, where she's going or where she's been. Pretty quickly you realize that she's an alcoholic, and we are brought up to date by memories and flashbacks to discover that in the timeline of the novel that first chapter falls at the midpoint. I was a little discombobulated at first by the structure, but as I got to know Hannah it fit perfectly. Memories are discovered and confessed by the m ...more
Jim Elkins
A Memorable Book, Not Reviewed

On the confessional trauma scale, definitely a four-star book. Oh my God is this unpleasant. Smeary, spongy, oily, gritty: an inventory of the book's contents is like an inventory of a pool of fresh vomit.

I wrote that in 2010, when I'd just started taking notes on books. I'm sorry, looking back on these sparse sentences in 2020, that I did not write a longer review. This book, more than many others I've read in the last year, has really stayed with me. Its flaws ru
Allison Floyd
GUPTGed at page 18 (pathetic, I know)! Hey, man, if I wanted to trawl the minutiae of the mind of a hair-splitting alcoholic, I would just think.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really did enjoy this, but I am amazed by people describing it as 'a short book.' It didn't seem that way to me! It felt like really heavy going, that I could only take in a little bit it a time, so it took me ages to read it, wincing all the way. It felt very real, very frightening and very sad. I have a cousin who has succumbed to alcoholism, and this all rings very true. There was black humour, of course there was, and moments, many, of great poignancy and tenderness. But overall it was pre ...more
Jonas Nielsen
Yeah.. cool. Liked it. Weird ending. Extremely well written. Loved the prose.
Nov 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm so glad I decided to hunt down some female Scottish authors. Because I found this novel. I absolutely loved this. It's not long but I read it slowly because I wanted to savour the writing. Breathtaking. It's a story about Hannah Luckcraft, an alcoholic woman whose search for the next drink, whose ups and downs, are compelling, saddening and believable. The insights into addiction are quite remarkable. The utter despair is tempered by a beautifully dark sense of humour and some of the most am ...more
Dec 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I could taste the alcohol on my tongue while reading this book. Don't start it without some liquid replenishment nearby.

What I wrote about it in 2005:
I can't even tell you how incredibly blown away I was by this book. It really took my breathe away. If you only read one book in 2005, make it this one. An alcoholic's rambling stream of conscious, as she ruins her life, and others, again and again. So intense. So well-written. Wow.
Bobbi Steele
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an incredibly well written book. I enjoyed how Kennedy uses mental illness in a way that people can understand the main character still. It almost draws the reader into the story because the real world is vastly different from what one normally experiences. It was incredibly modern and very realistic.
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
After reading A.L. Kennedy's "Paradise," I had the same feeling I had after seeing the movie Leaving Las Vegas: that I inhabited the world of an alcoholic and was elated that is one problem I do not have. The book opens with Hannah Luckraft finding herself in a rather seedy holiday hotel where she has just had an even seedier dalliance with a wispy married man. And in this opening chapter, you realize there won't be a happy ending. But you are so hopeful when Hannah decides to help an old wheelc ...more
Gareth Wain
Jul 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I've found A L Kennedy's writing frequently unnerving, profound and funny. When I bought this I was surprised I hadn't read it before. When I was reading it I started thinking maybe I had read it before. Now that I've finished I wonder whether I did read it before or even if I read it properly just now. It's just the nature of the nightmare. Beguiling in each and every way. I too found the end difficult, other books by her have been more easily torturing to the head. Perhaps the quotidian dread ...more
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
I didn't love this one... A true positive is I now have more of an understanding of the reality of alcoholism, but the disjointed and vague manner of the writing in order to represent that meant it was easy to lose my own thread of the story. I also didn't like the ending, which had shifted so heavily into a confusing mix of dream and awake that it was difficult to decipher what was happening. Some beautiful passages, but overall lacking.
Poorvi Agarwal
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea why did I start it or chose to keep up with it but it was enough to boil my insides to an inferno the protgonist goes through out the book.
Shall be read when experienced or sensibilities are developed.
Alex Taylor
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Admired the writing whilst disliking the story.
Mara Eastern
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A dark comedy inclining to magic realism; a deeply felt story of the love of two alcoholic patients for each other and, even more, for the bottle.
Oct 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I admit I only read 40 pages or so. I just couldn't figure out anything, whether the plot/character/where/what...
Perhaps I didn't understand something ? If so, please, explain me!
Nick McLaren
A very cleverly written book. But sadly that kind of clever you do to show your friend do they give you compliments and not to bring them any joy. We’ve all been there.
Diann Blakely
*Paradise* is comparable to Denis Johnson's *Jesus' Son*, and to the similarly genius-level novels of Kate Braverman, especially *Lithium for Medea*. Kennedy, like Johnson and Braverman, seems to write straight from the condition of being high. Which, of course, is impossible: all three are lucid to the point of pain. *Paradise* is gorgeous, sorrowful, comic, and perversely, paradoxically feminine, making the lovely cut-crystal tumbler on the cover, a Scottish landscape refracted inside, the mos ...more
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
A heartbreakingly 'real' and beautifully written story of and alcoholic's mind. Hannah's behaviour is despicable but Kennedy still succeeds in making her vulnerable, sensitive and kind. In fact the flawed narrator, with her patchy memory, is so like someone I once knew that at times the book floored me.

In many ways this book is a cautionary tale about alcohol. The repetition in the novel is essential to show the patterns of the drinker but because she writes so well and each event moves the plo
Jan 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
I didn't actually finish this book, but not because I didn't like it. In fact, what I read, I liked quite a bit.

Told in a stream of consciousness that sometimes doubts itself, this is the story of an alcoholic. In fact, I believe it is the story of two alcoholics, and how they intertwine, disease and all. But I mainly only saw the leading lady.

The style is quite different than other things I've read, even other British things, and that was part of the appeal. The language is largely big and deep
Bookmarks Magazine

If there's one point of consensus in reviews of Kennedy's latest novel, it's that she is a masterful stylist. The fork in the road for critics of Paradise, the British author's fifth U.S. release, is the subject matter. Her supporters are impressed that the book avoids a tumble into bleak self-pity. Hannah is a perceptive, funny guide to her own dissolution. But the detractors__a distinct minority__see Hannah's ability to express herself and her inability to solve her problems as a narrative fai

Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is why I read. Sometimes I read for pleasure or even escapism. But this is why I read. ...and this is what happens when I write a "review" immediately after turning the last page. Well I suppose this review is rather unclear. What do I mean by all of this? Well, if you don't know then don't you worry your pretty little fingers. I would suggest you go fuck yourself but I wouldn't wish to have to detail you a five point plan to how you can achieve this. This is my kind of book.
Kathy Fogarty
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think the description of this book does it justice. I read it as an attempt to get inside the subjective experience of severe alcohol dependence and I found it utterly tragic. She cleverly keeps you in the first person so that you accompany Hannah into her cravings, confusions and deliriums and sometimes can't quite tell what is going on, until she herself is lucid again. A tough read, but worth it.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book was horrible in a totally amazing way. Engrossing, felt entirely realistic. Yet describing a nightmarish existence of addiction that was painful to read, but impossible to look away from. I don't know how accurate this is to life, and after reading this book, I am very grateful to not know that.
Jun 14, 2009 rated it liked it
I read this novel about a young Scottish woman who also happens to be a raging drunk over the course of a day and a half, and I felt like I was on a bender with her. Considering little happens and the narration is filtered through a constantly replenished glass, the fact I couldn't put the book down says something. Unfortunately, I found the ending very unsatisfying.
Grace Scott
I read The Blue Book, her newest book, recently. I enjoy reading multiple books by a particular author to see the progression of their skill. She gives a lot of intensity to characters and situations to the point where it's almost painful. She did that here from beginning to end. I enjoyed the book, but feel like I need a lighter read next.
Kate Ahl
Jul 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely masterful writing, subtle and evocative character building, intense, relentless and uncompromising observation of people and relationships and states of mind. The author's joy in words radiates off the page - I had to put it down from time to time because I got over-excited and over-stimulated.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A tale of hope and despair. Those of us who have been touched by the issues in this novel will find the book riviting. I can best describe my interpretation of this work by the following quote: "Even the darkness has it's own light"

Really wrenching, incredibly well-written novel of addiction. The first-person depiction of addiction is on a par with and maybe better (can't believe I'm about to say this) than the portrayal in Infinite Jest.
Alanna Burns
Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it
the blurb is pretty inaccurate. the book isnt about the plot really and there's certainly no paradise! just a long hard and circuitous struggle with alcoholism. it was powerfully depicted and well written but also depressing and hard to follow what was actually happening. ..
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Alison Louise Kennedy is a Scottish writer of novels, short stories and non-fiction. She is known for a characteristically dark tone, a blending of realism and fantasy, and for her serious approach to her work. She occasionally contributes columns and reviews to UK and European newspapers including the fictional diary of her pet parrot named Charlie.

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“Being me is a job — is labour so time-consuming and expensive that I have to have a second job just to support it. So that I can drink, I have to get drink and that isn’t something people give away and then there’s drink that I need because I have drunk and the other drink I have to keep around because, sooner or later, I will drink it. That’s a full-time occupation: that’s like being a miner, or a nurse.” 3 likes
“We all need distractions, they make us laugh. And your options in life distil down to no more than this: laugh or cry, cry or laugh. Quickly, or slowly, it doesn't matter which-- you will discover the dreadful and unfunny joke that you are, that we all are.” 0 likes
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