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Not Speaking

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3.75  ·  Rating details ·  32 ratings  ·  14 reviews
A memoir of a London family, it is the the story of a Greek matriarch and her English husband and six children. It's a tale of love, anger, infidelity and fame. It's set in Mayfair, Marylebone, Majorca, the Old Kent Rd and Greece under the Nazis. It depicts the worlds of celebrity hairdressing and classical literature. It tells the story of a quarrel. It has a message: ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published May 2nd 2019 by Unbound
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  32 ratings  ·  14 reviews


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Pheadra
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has been described as a memoir but it is, in my opinion, three books in one: a memoir, a historical novel; a tale of a family that many will relate to.

I knew nothing of the Clarke family about whom this novel centres. Interest in them will stem predominantly from brother Nicky, a generous, talented, avant-garde celebrity hairstylist to the hip and happening in London. To a lesser extent, people who thrive on knowing about the rich and famous, major and minor celebrities, will enjoy
...more
Marjorie
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5 Stars

Norma Clarke and her 5 siblings (2 sisters and 3 brothers) grew up in a Working Class Anglo-Greek family in Elephant and Castle, London in the post-second world war era. With a volatile Greek mother and a hard working, mostly silent father. They were a fairly typical family of the time - loud, close and living close to her Father's relatives. The boys were almost worshipped when they came along, particularly by their mother, and the girls were expected to become "little mothers" to the
...more
Caroline Kerdouci
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not Speaking is an absolute fascinating read. Part memoir,part sociopolitical commentary, Norma Clarke writes so elegantly. A retired professor herself, I love how she weaves references from Ancient Greek literature about love and relationships whilst giving us a wonderful insight into her family dynamics. Sibling/family relationships make for interesting reading as everyone has skeletons in their closet and all families have disagreements, secrets etc so this book satisfies a natural curiosity ...more
Clare
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another great book chosen by The Pigeonhole (seriously, this app is ridiculously addictive). Norma Clarke tells us the story of her family. She grew up in the East End of London, the second eldest of six siblings, in a tiny flat. Her mother and father met in Greece at the end of the Second World War, and Rena came back to England after marrying Bill in Greece, and being able to speak very little English. It must have been really difficult for her.

There’s more to this than a family history
...more
Tracy
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: pigeonhole
Not Speaking is a touching memoir by Norma Clarke, sister of celebrity hairdressers Michael and Nicky Clarke. Based in London, but of Greek heritage on their Mother Rena’s side, the Clarkes are a typical boisterous family of the time, living on top of each other, the kids bicker and fight, and their parents, Rena and Bill are just trying to muddle their way through. We learn that Bill was a British officer stationed in Athens following World War II, where he met and fell for the feisty and ...more
Maria Rivas-mc
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Not Speaking mixes family memoir, with a primary focus on the brothers who had gotten past working class roots to find fame and fortune, with an amazing amount of historical information which provided necessary perspective to the family story. Both elements I quite enjoyed. But then, too, there were the times when the story got derailed by the author’s passion for classical literature, embarking on what veered towards a stream-of-consciousness flow. Now, I get how the life of Robert Graves ...more
Vanessa Wild
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I chose to read ‘Not Speaking’ via the Pigeonhole app I hadn’t realised who it was about or, in fact, that it was a memoir. I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of memoirs. However, I did actually enjoy this one. It’s about celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke and his family. It turned out to be a captivating and engaging read, combining some Greek history and classical literature with details of a working class upbringing in London and a rise to fame!

It’s a beautifully written book and a
...more
Lynne Smith
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written memoir of an Anglo Greek working class family living in London which just happens to have famous hair stylist brothers Nicky and Michael Clarke. Through the book we learn the story of feisty Rena the Greek matriarch of the family and the rivalry and quarrels of the six siblings which result in the Not Speaking of the title. The humour in the book is just lovely and I also enjoyed the view back into the London of Norma Clarke’s paternal ancestors living in the poorest areas ...more
Lesley Winch
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pigeonhole
I read this book thanks to The Pigeonhole but there were times when I wanted to give up on it. The Memoir part at the beginning was mainly a collection of family gossip and I found it rather boring. I could relate to Greek family life and history because of my own Greek connections, but disliked the comparisons with Homer and the like. I found the style difficult to read. It's not a book I'd like to have on my bookshelf.
Ian Lush
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful memoir, telling the story of the author's eccentric and colourful Anglo-Greek family including her two famous hairdresser brothers, Nicky and Michael Clarke, but centred on her wonderful mother and her rich life. Erudite and entertaining at the same time, the tale takes the reader from South London to Majorca, Greece to St John's Wood via funny, touching and ultimately very moving family stories - highly recommended!
Christine Rennie
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: pigeonhole
I read this book via Pigeonhole and thought it was a family memoir about Nicky and Michael Clarke, written by their sister. The literary references throughout the story seemed superfluous to a family story. Whilst I appreciate that was who Norma Clarke is; a literary scholar, it seemed irrelevant to the family saga.
In my humble opinion.
Alison Williamson
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pigeonhole
Enjoyed this book enormously.I enjoy a biography and history. This was a good story well told and has themes common to many other families. I'm not sure I really warmed to the main character ,she reminded me of some of the female family members in my childhood who I liked well enough at the time but realise in hindsight had a self-serving streak at their core
Christine
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This tale is more than a memoir. It encompasses academic knowledge that fits the story very well. The characters are described eith much honesty, it seems. Rena, the author's mother is one of my favourite characters of the book. She might be a not easy person to live with, but her comments have made me smile all through the tale! Excellently written, there is not one boring line!
Christina Mama-Kyriacou
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! Highly recommended.
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