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3.45  ·  Rating details ·  643 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Alfred Day wanted his war. In its turmoil he found his proper purpose as the tail-gunner in a Lancaster bomber; he found the wild, dark fellowship of his crew, and - most extraordinary of all - he found Joyce, a woman to love. But that's all gone now - the war took it away. Maybe it took him, too. ...more
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published April 5th 2007 by Jonathan Cape (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  643 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Oct 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brits, favourites
Ms Kennedy should have a category of her own with different coloured stars, or the option to have the stars squared, 3D at the very least. She's a writer who expects a lot of her reader, and I like that. The opening chapter of this novel is a struggle, even the second time round it's not a smooth ride, no familiar easy ground, nothing recognizable, nothing we can sort into easy categories. Ms Kennedy disorientates you just as much as Alfie Day, the main character is disorientated, lost, thrown o ...more
Reviewed in 2012
I like books about heroes, unassuming heroes, the quiet ones who never get promotion, never get awards for bravery. Alfred Day, turret gunner in a bomber squad during WWII is one such hero, a man of huge and noble courage who is constantly beset by his own personal armoury of fears and terrors.

I also like books where authors take risks and experiment with voice. But the author must keep the narrative sufficiently lucid, she must remember her duty to her readers. AL Kennedy take
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enough about war already……or not.

At a time when we’re all sick of hearing about and seeing the consequences of war this is a book about war well worth reading. At 15 Alfred Day lies about his age and joins the RAF as a gunner to get away from his violent father and his small Midlands town that threatens a lack luster life and escapes to see the world or at least bomb it one target and mission at a time. The story is told in the third person with forays into the second person point of view and Al
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though I’ll soon be celebrating the 50th anniversary of my arrival here in Australia, I still feel an inordinate sense of British pride in the WW2 achievements of the RAF. Those young men who took to the skies against Nazism are heroes to me, as they were to beleaguered Britain, fighting alone while the rest of Europe had capitulated and her American allies were still clinging to isolationism. As everyone knows, the casualty rate was shocking - while bomber crews had a better chance than th ...more
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 80 or so pages were a real slog, and I almost ditched it numerous times, feeling that I was working way too hard for too little reward (and even too little basic understanding of what the hell was going on). The only things that kept me going were the many reviews here that warned that reading the beginning was a lot of hard work, but promised that it would all be worth it in the end. They were right. I'm not sure that the first part needs to be quite so impenetrable and challenging, b ...more
Laurie Neighbors
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Technically, a brilliant example of how to write a researched novel. But also brilliant in so many other ways as well. I had started the book once before and found it a bit cold. But on this second attempt, I trudged through the early emotional distance and let Kennedy shape me into a slobbering, empathetic mess in the final fourth of the novel. Just as I like it.
Apr 29, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
A.L. Kennedy - winner of 2007 Costa Book of the Year Award

Dedication: THA MÓRAN AN SO

Opening: Alfred was growing a moustache.
Miss Bookiverse
Had to read this for uni. I never would've picked it up on my own because a story about a WWII pilot just doesn't lie in my zone of interest. Even though I did appreciate the writing style here and there, I didn't care about the story or the protagonist. Also, for a story that is ultimately about love and how having someone you care about and who cares about you is what can pull you through terrible events, I didn't feel the romance at all. What did they even like about each other? They hardly k ...more
Emer  Tannam
Mar 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
Why did I read this book? I told myself that I’d never read another book about the first or Second World War, and yet I picked up this book. It was nothing I hadn’t read before, and at times the style of writing was confusing and annoying. Never again.
I started this more than once, finding the early pages confusing and difficult to follow, not being pulled in by it at all - but the many glowing reviews convinced me to keep trying. Was it worth it? Well, yes - the writing is technically good and the main character is complex. Is it something I'd be recommending to others? Well, no. It never did really grab me, I'm afraid. Perhaps the somewhat broken narrative is supposed to illustrate the broken character of Alfred Day, but it also meant that ...more
Pamela Scott
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: al-kennedy
Day just didn’t work for me. I really wanted to enjoy it. I’ve wanted to read more of Kennedy since I loved Everything You Need. I’ve seen Day in the library numerous times and thought it sounded great. Kennedy doesn’t pull it off with Day.

STRUCTURE: Kennedy doesn’t number the chapters in Day. The chapter started a few lines down from the top so you knew when you were starting a new one. This niggled me a bit. I like to flick through to the next chapter so I can judge how long it is so I know if
Sandra Danby
‘Day’, the title of this novel by AL Kennedy, does not refer to a period of twenty-four hours, but to Alfred Francis Day. Alfie. Rear gunner in a Lancaster in World War Two and now extra on the set of a war film. Past and present are mingled together as he starts to remember things he would rather forget. The passages in the bomber are electrifying, in their detail and understanding. The cold, the smell, the fear, how the professionalism of their training kicks in when the action starts. It is t ...more
Mark Desrosiers
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A tiny WWII Lanc tailgunner volunteers as an extra in some postwar prison camp documentary, and then returns to his job at a used book store. That's the basic plot, but there's so much nasty in between. The constant shifting back and forth of the wounded narrative never lets you go. Plus, "you" are him -- the second-person voice kicks in frequently enough to make you wonder (when you're finished) whether you have a reliable narrator here. In the end -- the very last page -- things turn shifty-ey ...more
K. Wills
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was going to rate this book 4 stars, but a day after finishing it, it is still with me, and when I re-read the highlighted paragraphs on my Kindle, I found them heartbreaking. "Day," by A.L. Kennedy, is about an RAF airman who makes it through the war and in 1946 or thereabouts is working as an extra in a British film about prisoners of war - of which he was one, so of course his surroundings on the movie set come to haunt him a bit. There is a lot of internal dialogue in which you eventually ...more
Kris McCracken
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kennedy has taken a rather experimental approach with both the structure and narrative voice in this novel. Essentially and exercise in an exploration of what trauma does to someone, it's a brave task and (for mine), a successful one.

That said, it can get downright tricky at times, with a narrative voice that switches from the present to the past (told in the present tense), shooting further to the past (told in the past tense, then switching to the present tense). Then you flash to the mid-futu
Jamie Rawlings
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very similar to Slaughterhouse 5: a-linear narrative which jumps forwards and back in time colouring in the life of Alfred Day. Involved in a fire-bombing, P.o.W. etc. Gives an insight into the life of a Lancaster tale gunner, the reverence towards the crew and machine, the challenges of losing it in civilian life. Challenges the general nostalgic memory of WW2
Kate Bullock
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've read this book twice. It is unclear to start with what's going on, I found, but the writing is completely engaging. It is a very unusual book, being told from the viewpoint of a member of Alfred day, a tail-gunner in a Lancaster bomber. He finds comradeship in his crew and the intense life they lead during WW2 is compelling.
This synopsis wouldn't generally sell a book to me but the story is told with such insight and empathy that I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Eva Kristin
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh wow. This was a painful read. Kennedy makes the Second World War come vividly alive through tail-gunner Alfred Day. Her language and the way she tells his story is exceptionally original and beautiful. It’s been a long while since i enjoyed a challenging read as much as this.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
An extraordinarily affecting story. It would be five stars but for my lack of britishness. I just didn't connect with some of the vernacular and it made it a bit difficult at times. What is amazing is how emotional it still was only understanding 85 percent of the text. ...more
Jun 14, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-uni
the only good thing about this book was that (in comparison to the other books I've had to read for uni this semester) it was a pretty quick read... Or at least would have been a quick read if it hadn't been so boring that all it did was help me fall asleep very quickly in the evening. ...more
Dec 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just can't with this book...
Aug 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Alfred Day is unlikable and boring. This book is unbearable.
Martin Boyle
Jul 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
On finishing this novel I thought that I really liked it. Three months later, as I struggled to remember what it was all about and why I thought that it was worth four stars, I'm not so sure. All I could remember was that it was slow paced to the point of losing its drive.

Perhaps, as the first book of A L Kennedy's that I'd read, it was the interest of a new voice? I don't really know, but in trying to write the review and needing to recall the basic line of the novel, I was surprised that I ha
Roderick Hart
Feb 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
This novel is based on the life of Alfred Day, a tail-gunner in a Lancaster Bomber during World War 11. Does she succeed in portraying the experience of being a tail-gunner in a Lancaster Bomber? I haven’t the faintest idea, and neither does the author. So for those parts of the book where bombing runs are described she is relying on research and the reader must either take her work on trust or beat a path to the Imperial War Museum.

Alfred Day is a decent man but somewhat tongue-tied when it com
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book at a B&B in the Bourdeaux region of France two years ago. I am guessing that this book has not been published in the U.S., as I see I am the only review and this book won the prestigious Costa Award in Great Britain. It's too bad U.S publishers don't pick up a more diverse group of authors.

Normally, I don't put a lot of descriptions of books in my reviews - as I figure that everyone can read the summary of the book themselves. But I will try to put a brief description since
May 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: flying, wwii
I had mixed feelings about this book, and I think it comes down to the issue of voice. The mannered, manic, fluid POV really captured the fragmented psyche of someone (Alfie Day) who has endured unimaginable trauma (both in his family life and during his stint as an RAF gunner), but despite its inventive rhythms and fractures, the way the prose mimics a broken mind's machinery, I felt it paradoxically kept me from understanding him. Every time I picked up the book, it felt like work, like I had ...more
Feb 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
I must have been especially sleepy while reading the first 21 pages, because I didn't have my bearings at all. When it dawned on me where/when the story was taking place (on a postwar film set), I promptly halted and went back to begin again.

I liked this note on re-reading Sherlock Holmes stories by necessity due to shortages of reading material: The cases had blended together, but that was fine, because being unsure of what ended up where meant the stories could stand a few readings, twisting
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
I read this book for a uni course on contemporary Scottish literature, and that is the only reason I finished it. 
The first fifty pages or so were incredibly hard work to slog through, and with the past flowing into the present, random italicization of some thoughts, and shifts back and forth to the second perspective, the author doesn't really seem to want the reader to have a good time reading her book. 
Once you get used to the style of the narration, however, (and once the italicized intrusiv
Nov 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
After struggling with Kennedy's "Day" for a week, I decided to check reviews in an attempt to discover what I was missing in this novel. I knew that the style of the novel was one of the problems if not the problem I was having with the novel. The first review compared Kennedy's writing to Dostoevsky's, dark characters struggling in their dark world. Another review pointed out that "Day" is written in the second person point-of-view which few authors use in writing novels. I think the second per ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Named twice as one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists, A. L. Kennedy plumbs the depths of darkness. In her ninth book of fiction, Paradise (HHHJ July/Aug 2005), she explored alcoholism. Day, a psychologically complex novel that examines the true costs of war, combines war, romance, and history. By delving deep inside Alfred's psyche, Kennedy offers an immediate, surreal portrait of one man's disintegration. Critics agree that Kennedy's vivid depictions of war are the most compelling, origi

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500 Great Books B...: Day - A.L. Kennedy - Fionnuala 1 7 Jul 31, 2014 02:14PM  

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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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