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Work Like Any Other
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2016 Longlist [MBP] > Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves

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message 1: by Maxwell (new)

Maxwell (welldonebooks) | 375 comments Mod
Discussing Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves.


SibylM (sibyldiane) | 26 comments I read this one today -- it's a short book and it just took me the afternoon to read it. LOVE. It takes a serious dive into responsibility, redemption, morals, and relationships. The characters have depth and none of them are perfect, or just evil. It's got an interesting structure, with switches in viewpoint, narrator, and timeframe (but no second person narration, thank goodness). The plot is quite involving too. I had this book on my TBR from a long time back, and I'm really glad the MB longlist got me to bump it up.
This book was available at my library for immediate pickup, which was a nice bonus. Free and I didn't even have to wait on a hold list!


message 3: by Kay (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kay | 71 comments I am just a third in and I am a little bored by this book - hopefully it will pick up. I like books with character-development, but this one is just not cutting it for me for now. Also, there is a part in the beginning that has made it hard for me to relate to the main character's plight, but I will wait for more people to read it so we can discuss.


message 4: by Kay (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kay | 71 comments Anya wrote: "I really loved this one as well. Its had the most emotional impact on me out of all the longlisted books I've read so far. The first third is a bit slow, but it really does pick up, and towards the..."

There always comes a point in this discussion where I love a book and someone else hates it, and then hopefully we try to understand each other's points of view. This book is an example of this but in reverse. I did not care for this story.
I did not relate to these characters at all and did not buy into their motivations, especially (view spoiler)

I have only read 4 books so far, but this was the weakest one for me.


message 5: by Kay (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kay | 71 comments Anya wrote: "Kay wrote: "Anya wrote: "I really loved this one as well. Its had the most emotional impact on me out of all the longlisted books I've read so far. The first third is a bit slow, but it really does..."

I agree with your interpretation on Marie's behavior but I am not sure about the rest. (view spoiler) Maybe we just have very different tastes :)


message 6: by Kay (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kay | 71 comments Anya wrote: "[spoilers removed]"

Oh, I like that!


Neil | 511 comments These conversations are really intriguing when you are avoiding reading the spoilers! I am really looking forward to when I will have read it and can take a look!


message 8: by Kay (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kay | 71 comments Neil wrote: "These conversations are really intriguing when you are avoiding reading the spoilers! I am really looking forward to when I will have read it and can take a look!"

Neil, that's how I feel about The North Water, and I am finally starting it today. All the talk about violence and gore!


message 9: by Alan (new)

Alan (alanprb) I really hate those hidden spoilers. It's like christmas presents I'm not allowed to open yet :)


message 10: by Doug (new) - rated it 4 stars

Doug | 78 comments My four star review:

Until at least halfway through this debut novel, I was thinking it was at best a 3 star, and was wondering why it even got nominated for the Booker. The structure irritated me, alternating chapters in the third person with first person narration by the main character - this was interesting and innovative the first 8,473 times I'd encountered it, but it has become a hoary cliché of modern writing. The timing of certain events also seemed off (wait, isn't Gerald only 12 years old - what's he doing in college already?), until I realized the story wasn't being told chronologically, but moving backwards and forwards. Despite all that, and some languid sections, the book grew on me, evoking memories of the best of Faulkner in places, and by the end I realized I had really enjoyed it after all and that I had read it in less than a day


message 11: by Britta (last edited Aug 13, 2016 01:09PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
I started with this today. The topic interests me, and it's about something different for a change.


message 12: by Britta (last edited Aug 14, 2016 01:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
I finished the book last night and I enjoyed it. The story is interesting, especially the parts describing Roscoe's prison life. But I thought some of the characters (Marie, Wilson) lacked depth, and the structure was somewhat muddled at times. Still, it feels like a book I would want to re-read if it makes the shortlist, which is a good sign. Plus, this is a debut novel, and therefore: 3.5*, rounded up to 4*.


Rachel | 9 comments I managed to finish this in one day and also gave it 4 stars. I've only read Hot Milk and Eileen so far (and am 40% of the way through Lucy Barton) but so far this has been my favorite. I agree about some of the characters lacking depth. I would've loved to have read more about Roscoe and Gerald's relationship. I think the length of the book was my biggest issue, as I probably would've enjoyed it even more if it was longer. I would've loved to have read more about Roscoe and Gerald's relationship. Also, (view spoiler)


Jeanne (grauspitz) Surprisingly this has been my favourite man booker so far (I've already read Hot Milk, My Name is Lucy Barton and The Sellout) coming in at 3.5 stars.

It was slow at first, and I was a little bit confused with the changing perspectives, but I came to really enjoy the story with time. I found the writing rather unremarkable, however, to the point where I would accidentally skip over passages and I couldn't help but feel I didn't learn enough about the characters.

I think I enjoyed the alternating perspectives the most, allowing for opposite viewpoints that would have otherwise been rather one-sided.


Julianne Quaine | 35 comments This is my third book from the Long list. I really enjoyed this one - so many layers to think about - modernisation with the benefits but also negative aspects - the electric chair; the benefits of eduction, but only if used for good - was improving how dogs could catch escaping prisoners a good use? ; relationships and whether opposites attract, like electrically charged particles; and the importance of work to humans. The description of the prison system and how African Americans were treated was also of interest. I empathised with Roscoe and Marie not knowing how to support each other emotionally - neither having skills at sharing their feeling. I think it will make the short list and I've rated it 4 stars


Kathe Coleman | 46 comments Work Like Any Other by Virginia Virginia Reeves
1920s Alabama is the setting for this morally complicated book. Although the stock market crash in 1929 was thought to start the great depression, many states, like Alabama, had already been suffering from severe poverty. It is the story of Roscoe Martin, an electrician, who wanted to follow his dreams to the vocation he loved and the family life that eluded him. Half of the story takes place in prison and the other on a farm inherited by his wife. Themes of guilt, compassion, forgiveness and broken dreams are chronicled throughout the book. As I was reading felt it was a solid four and then as I got more involved with the characters I began to compassionately connect with Roscoe, a basically good man that you can’t help but have sympathy for. Well written. 5.0


message 17: by Neil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 511 comments I've just finished this. Here is my 3* review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

It was all OK but just not very exciting. I was, if I am honest, a little bit bored. But, I think it hinges on whether you feel sympathetic towards Roscoe. I think the discussion here is more exciting than the book!


Katrina (katrinasreads) | 3 comments I've just finished this, my second book from the list, and like The Many I gave this 3 stars.
I raced through the first half of this book and found the prison section to be the most interesting but I felt it slowed a little too much in the last third and I lost interest in his plight.
I felt that the characters for the most part were a little flat and so I couldn't get interested in their actions and emotions, for me Marie and the dog Maggie were the most fully fleshed out and the most interesting. I was also more interested in the electricity, more so than the race relations and the family relations as it seemed to have a bigger drive behind it.

Hystopia next.


Ernie (ewnichols) | 66 comments I'm not sure if anyone has read or heard the following, but I wanted to share a brief interview with the judges (Amanda Foreman (Chair) and Abdulrazak Gurnah) on why books on the longlist made the longlist.

Virginia Reeves (US) - Work Like Any Other (Scribner UK)
“one of the most exciting debut novels of 2016”
Foreman: This book is a historical novel. It’s set in the 1920s in Alabama. So first off, when you write a historical novel, you’ve got the challenges of tone, of accuracy, of place and setting, and Virginia Reeves pulls this off absolutely brilliantly. It’s kind of a dark theme. It’s about a man who is sent to prison and what he suffers there, and it’s not pretty. And yet, it’s absolutely gripping. So bravo to her.


message 20: by Kay (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kay | 71 comments Ernie wrote: "I'm not sure if anyone has read or heard the following, but I wanted to share a brief interview with the judges (Amanda Foreman (Chair) and Abdulrazak Gurnah) on why books on the longlist made the ..."


Well, "gripping" is the last word I will use to describe this book.


message 21: by Neil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 511 comments Agreed - "mildly interesting" might be better than "gripping"


Ernie (ewnichols) | 66 comments You all make it sound so interesting! :) This one is next on my list, right after Hystopia, which unfortunately so far is failing to impress me.


Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
Neil wrote: "Agreed - "mildly interesting" might be better than "gripping""

Ah, finally I can disagree again :-). I really enjoyed the book. Yes, it had its flaws (its a debut after all), but I actually did find it quite 'gripping'.


message 24: by Neil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 511 comments Ernie - I agree on Hystopia - dreadful!

Britta - I think "Work Like Any Other" entirely depends on the sympathy (or is it empathy?) you feel for Roscoe. Sadly, very little in my case! But, if you start to care for him I imagine it is indeed a gripping read.


Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
Neil wrote: "Ernie - I agree on Hystopia - dreadful!

Britta - I think "Work Like Any Other" entirely depends on the sympathy (or is it empathy?) you feel for Roscoe. Sadly, very little in my case! But, if you ..."


Yes, thats a very good point. Roscoe was an interesting character (more interesting than liekable, but still) and I wanted to know what will happen to/with him. Plus, I enjoyed the story, the plot (I am very much a plot-reader, I have to admit...).

And another agreement: Hystopia was indeed dreadful.


Ernie (ewnichols) | 66 comments What a beautifully written novel. I thought the prose was so fluid and descriptive, and I found the novel quite enjoyable. Though it was focused on the characters, I found that it shined the most in language, which is what carried me through the middle portion of the book, when I thought it slowed down a bit. I do think the author painted the picture wonderfully - tone, setting, etc., all those mentioned by the judges, and the way that it was crafted, with the use of alternating viewpoints, was tremendously successful. I was a bit unsure of the viewpoints in the beginning, but I really think this was a clever way to build the story. It really worked here. The end of the novel felt a bit abrupt for me, as in there were too many things happening in too few pages, almost not enough description on the actual plot; however, I still think it was a wonderful novel. As I said, the language really carried this one for me, and enough so that it is easier for me to look past the portions of the novel that I felt were a bit lacking.

(view spoiler)


David | 40 comments Perhaps this is a love it or not love it book (won't say hate it as its fairly ok). To me it just seemed like every other similar story told again. In a year where crime and gritty description seems to feature a lot, I probably expected more, but to me it just seems too run-of-the-mill ((SPOILER?)) "guy goes to prison and has a predictable time and deals with life afterwards" about it without any real shockers (well, just the one...pun intended). Personally, it wouldn't have made my longlist. But if it's going to be made into a film, call up the crew who did Shawshank Redemption ... They'll know what to do.


Craig Rimmer | 33 comments Just completed today. I enjoyed it til the end. Very gripping read overall.

*Spoiler alert*




Divorce just seemed like such an anticlimax as endings go and the son Gerald, as an adult, was the least developed of the characters.


Robert | 363 comments A solid read but that's all. Recommended but not Booker worthy, so I can understand why it's not on the shortlist.


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