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The publication of Robinson Crusoe in London in 1719 marked the arrival of a revolutionary art form: the novel. British writers were prominent in shaping the new type of storytelling - one which reflected the experiences of ordinary people, with characters in whom readers could find not only an escape, but a deeper understanding of their own lives.But the novel was more th The publication of Robinson Crusoe in London in 1719 marked the arrival of a revolutionary art form: the novel. British writers were prominent in shaping the new type of storytelling - one which reflected the experiences of ordinary people, with characters in whom readers could find not only an escape, but a deeper understanding of their own lives.But the novel was more than just a reflection of British life. As Sebastian Faulks explains in this engaging literary and social history, it also helped invent the British. By focusing not on writers but on the people they gave us, Faulks not only celebrates the recently neglected act of novelistic creation baplaudsut shows how the most enduring fictional characters over the centuries have helped map the British psyche. In this ebook, Sebastian celebrates the greatest heroes in fiction - from Tom Jones to Sherlock Holmes. Also included are three classic novels: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe: The legendary story of a shipwreck on a desert island.Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray: The story of a young woman's spectacular rise and fall as she gambles, manipulates and seduces her way through high society and the Napoleonic wars.The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes' most famous case as he uncovers the truth behind the terrifying legend of a supernatural hound which preys upon the cursed Baskerville family.


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The publication of Robinson Crusoe in London in 1719 marked the arrival of a revolutionary art form: the novel. British writers were prominent in shaping the new type of storytelling - one which reflected the experiences of ordinary people, with characters in whom readers could find not only an escape, but a deeper understanding of their own lives.But the novel was more th The publication of Robinson Crusoe in London in 1719 marked the arrival of a revolutionary art form: the novel. British writers were prominent in shaping the new type of storytelling - one which reflected the experiences of ordinary people, with characters in whom readers could find not only an escape, but a deeper understanding of their own lives.But the novel was more than just a reflection of British life. As Sebastian Faulks explains in this engaging literary and social history, it also helped invent the British. By focusing not on writers but on the people they gave us, Faulks not only celebrates the recently neglected act of novelistic creation baplaudsut shows how the most enduring fictional characters over the centuries have helped map the British psyche. In this ebook, Sebastian celebrates the greatest heroes in fiction - from Tom Jones to Sherlock Holmes. Also included are three classic novels: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe: The legendary story of a shipwreck on a desert island.Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray: The story of a young woman's spectacular rise and fall as she gambles, manipulates and seduces her way through high society and the Napoleonic wars.The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes' most famous case as he uncovers the truth behind the terrifying legend of a supernatural hound which preys upon the cursed Baskerville family.

30 review for Faulks on Fiction (Includes 3 Vintage Classics): Great British Heroes and the Secret Life of the Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I really enjoyed listening to Faulks chatting about books I'd read. He's an unabashed fan of the character driven novel and this book traces how fictional characters have traced the evolution of the modern Briton. I really enjoyed listening to Faulks chatting about books I'd read. He's an unabashed fan of the character driven novel and this book traces how fictional characters have traced the evolution of the modern Briton.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Having no doubt that Sebastian Faulks is better read, more intelligent and certainly better qualified than myself to comment on the novel I feel a tad reticent about holding forth but I shall. I did enjoy this trawl through British novels ranging from the gargantuan (and in my case severely unread) 'Clarissa ' by Samuel Richardson to the gross and foul 'Money ' by Martin Amis. Twenty eight novels by twenty six novelists are divided into seven books for the four themes of Hero, Lover, Villain and Having no doubt that Sebastian Faulks is better read, more intelligent and certainly better qualified than myself to comment on the novel I feel a tad reticent about holding forth but I shall. I did enjoy this trawl through British novels ranging from the gargantuan (and in my case severely unread) 'Clarissa ' by Samuel Richardson to the gross and foul 'Money ' by Martin Amis. Twenty eight novels by twenty six novelists are divided into seven books for the four themes of Hero, Lover, Villain and Snob. It is a fascinating reflection though I suppose, as is inevitable in a book which needs to be readable or at least ' holdable ' one has to restrict the number of works reflected upon. Some of the novelists chosen or maybe more to the point those not chosen surprised me and then the works chosen appeared to me a tad eccentric but then as Faulks himself says in his section on Sherlock Holmes making lists or choices are never going to be universally applauded. The four themes were cleverly chosen though as I read I did wonder whether a linking theme to all four could not have been a fifth one of 'Victim'. In many of the novels chosen a glance at the work from the position of the one crushed or rejected or misunderstood would have opened out society's understanding of itself through the novelist's work in just as powerful a way if not more so. Again, recognizing that is was Faulk's book and not mine I know it might appear churlish but it did aggravate me that he stated his opinions and ideas seemingly as universals. So for example in his discussion of 'Vanity Fair', which as a book I love, Faulks insists on saying on a number of occasions how everyone roots for Becky Sharp and is rather dismissive of Amelia Sedley and Dobbin. We all feel this he tells us, this is a universal....no Sebastian, its not. Not in this corner of the world anyway. This might seem a small whinge and indeed it is an unimportant detail except it was repeated in other sections concerning other books. This grated on me because whilst wanting to hear the opinions of a far wiser and more articulate man I did not want to feel that my own opinions or ideas were of no consequence unless they chimed perfectly with his. Having said all that, I did find the whole thing very interesting, easy to read, amusing and it did succeed in opening out aspects of novels I had not been aware of before.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Smiley

    I found this 'companion' interesting, inspiring and informative since Sabastian Faulks, an illustrious novelist himself (I'm sorry I haven't yet read his famous "Birdsong") has portrayed different views regarding the four major characters, that is, Heroes, Lovers, Snobs and Vallains based on those twenty-eight great British novels, seven in each category. In other words, each character presumably deserves readers' similar attention, my motive is that I should read any character at random accordi I found this 'companion' interesting, inspiring and informative since Sabastian Faulks, an illustrious novelist himself (I'm sorry I haven't yet read his famous "Birdsong") has portrayed different views regarding the four major characters, that is, Heroes, Lovers, Snobs and Vallains based on those twenty-eight great British novels, seven in each category. In other words, each character presumably deserves readers' similar attention, my motive is that I should read any character at random according to my familiarity. Therefore, I started with my first two favorites, that is, Winston Smith (Heroes, no. 4) and Jean Brodie (Snobs, no. 5) because I read "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" some 40 years ago. Reading these two characters as seen by such an author with literary stature delighted me with his unique ways of looking at each character's backgrounds, contexts as well as any hidden agenda I hadn't perceived or realized before. For instance, I found this sentence rewarding, "Winston Smith is a new kind of hero: one who loses." (p. 79) because this implies any hero who loses can be a hero which is a new paradigm shift in that we tend to assume anyone who loses can't be a hero at all, he/she simply is a loser for ever! In other words, such a loser can be a hero if he/she can persist, keep going and do one's best for the good of those around him/her, the community and the nation. Moreover, I found this bitter, "Her tragedy is that she turns out not to be a leader in the ranks of an enlightened culture, but the victim of self-delusion and of forces she has not understood." (p. 252) because this informs us why she (Miss Jean Brodie) can't be a leader and we're embittered by her possessing such self-delusion. One of the reasons is that she's grief-stricken by the death of her fiance in Flanders and just imagine if we had to face a situation like that ourselves. In short, this character anthology is for those keen novel readers who long to know more in-depth views/backgrounds related to their read/familiar ones. I mean reading those unfamiliar ones is a bit tedious and, I think, futile since it's like reading them in the dark.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Daný

    This book (that Sebastian Faulks himself would have preferred calling Novel People) was published as a companion to a four-part BBC programme. I haven't seen the programme, but even without that, I'd recommend it over the book. In the series, Faulks travels to different locations and talks to authors and critics about the four themes/groups of characters also represented in the book: heroes, lovers, snobs, and villains. In the book, though, all we get are basically brief summaries of some of the This book (that Sebastian Faulks himself would have preferred calling Novel People) was published as a companion to a four-part BBC programme. I haven't seen the programme, but even without that, I'd recommend it over the book. In the series, Faulks travels to different locations and talks to authors and critics about the four themes/groups of characters also represented in the book: heroes, lovers, snobs, and villains. In the book, though, all we get are basically brief summaries of some of the main characters that, for Faulks, represent those four types (for example, heroes: Robinson Crusoe, Sherlock Holmes; lovers: Mr Darcy, Constance Chatterley; snobs: Emma Woodhouse, Jeeves; villains: Fagin, Ronald Merrick - all in all seven characters per 'type'). The summaries are too short to provide much space for critical reflection. (For those books I'd read I thought they didn't say anything; for the books I hadn't read, they spoil too much but still don't give too clear an idea.) Here and there are some stories of Faulks' own reading experience, but they are unable to add much in the limited amount of space per character. All in all, this is not a book I'd recommend. Please turn to Faulks other (generally brilliant) work, such as Birdsong, A Week in December and others, or see if the BBC TV-programme is more interesting.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    It seems to me that there are (at least) two sides to Sebastian Faulks. On one hand there’s the genius writer of fantastic books like 'Birdsong' and 'The Girl at the Lion d’Or' which are so convincing that he tells us that readers refuse to believe he just made them up. On the other there’s the slightly stuffy chap who appears on dull but worthy Radio 4 programmes like ‘The Write Stuff’ (surely a show designed for rather smug clever people to show off how clever they are to an audience of baffle It seems to me that there are (at least) two sides to Sebastian Faulks. On one hand there’s the genius writer of fantastic books like 'Birdsong' and 'The Girl at the Lion d’Or' which are so convincing that he tells us that readers refuse to believe he just made them up. On the other there’s the slightly stuffy chap who appears on dull but worthy Radio 4 programmes like ‘The Write Stuff’ (surely a show designed for rather smug clever people to show off how clever they are to an audience of baffled listeners) and looks like the sort of chap who probably has leather patches on his corduroy jackets. When I was offered Faulks’ latest book I was excited because he writes such fantastic fiction – but when I realised it was non-fiction, my spirits dipped a bit. I probably should have given him more credit. Faulks on Fiction is a companion book for the BBC 2 series of the same name. Each show covered one 'theme' and gave seven literary characters that illustrate that theme in different way: Heroes, Lovers, Snobs and Villains. In each section of the book Faulks introduces us to seven characters that he considers to be good examples of the type and which he believes have had an influence on what makes Britain the country that it is today. Faulks is attempting to get rid of the oft-held idea that characters reflect the lives of their authors and has resolutely avoided that approach. It seems to be one that he takes very personally – no doubt because he suffers from readers refusing to believe that he wasn’t really a woman airlifted into France to spy during the Second World War (like his character Charlotte Grey). Some of Faulks’ choices are interesting – perhaps for who he leaves out as much as who he puts in. Mr Darcy makes the list but Elizabeth Bennett doesn’t – and take a guess to which category Darcy gets assigned. A sure cert for Snob, I was thinking but nope, he’s a Lover. We can probably blame Mr D for every Mills and Boon darkly-brooding stroppy hero ever written. Where would you put James Bond? I’m guessing most of us would put him into the Hero category but Faulks assigns him to Snobs on the basis of his obsession with brands. That’s a very interesting approach – a bit of Bond as Chav – and few contemporary writers know Bond better than Faulks so I’m more than willing to see his point of view. I consider myself pretty well-read but I only recognised seventeen of the twenty eight characters featured by their names even though I’d read many of the books whose characters’ names I’d forgotten. Barbara Covett, Chanu Ahmed, Nick Guest, Maurice Bendrix – how many of those names can you instantly assign to their host-books? It’s actually not easy sometimes to identify quickly which book some of the characters come from. I had to read three pages to identify the book from which one of the lovers was taken. Perhaps that might be taking the separation of author and character just a wee bit too far. There aren’t many women characters or too many female writers but then that’s perhaps not unusual when you consider the wide historic scope that Faulks has covered. Only one woman character makes the Hero list, three make the Lovers list, two get onto the Snobs and a single woman is represented amongst the Villains. Some very recent books make the list – Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller, Brick Lane by Monica Ali and The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollingworth – and all are very much of the ‘Booker Shortlist’ genre. The level of detail into which Faulks goes varies a lot between characters. Some characters get very deep analysis and for the characters from many of the older books he seems to feel the need to offer a very extensive synopsis of the stories in which they appear whilst some of the more modern books appear with almost no plot synopsis at all and I felt that if I hadn’t already read the books I really wouldn’t have been any the wiser about the plots after reading those chapters. Perhaps it’s more difficult to do analysis of characters who’ve been done to death by centuries of literary criticism. Whilst Mr Darcy clocks up 22 pages, whilst Charles Pooter gets just 6 and Jean Brodie only 8 pages. Some of the chapters I enjoyed a lot, others I was more ambivalent about and a small number left me absolutely cold and disinterested. I think the biggest problem I had was in just not knowing what the purpose of the book really was. I was looking for a clear sense of the impact Faulks felt that each of the characters had on British society but I sometimes struggled to get to the nub of the message. It’s more than possible that Faulks is just too darned clever for me. I can’t rule that out at all. I totally ‘got’ the separation of author and character but struggled to know what I was supposed to remember from some of the chapters. I was resistant to the long plot summaries, unclear about whether this was a ‘dummies guide’ on how to bluff your knowledge of a novel at your next Book Group meeting. What Faulks sometimes offers is not book reviews so much as book précis and I’m not really sure for whom he’s written this book. If you’ve already read the books he features then you’ll probably think that what’s offered is a handy brief reminder, perhaps a chance to think again about your own perceptions of the books. If you haven’t read the books then you’ll find too much plot on some of them and not enough on others. Perhaps it wasn’t surprisingly that some of the more modern books had critiques that I enjoyed more than the older ones, partly I believe because Faulks seemed to relax a little when writing these. His choice of Chanu Ahmed from Brick Lane (the heroine’s much older husband) was quite unusual although this working-class immigrant intellectual snob fitted in with Faulks’ other Snob choices which mostly avoided the haughty gentry types in favour of the snobbery of the lower and middle classes. We get manservant Jeeves, the poor boy Pip with his ‘Great Expectations’, school teacher Brodie and of course the controversial choice of James Bond. It’s almost as if you can only be a Snob if you can’t really justify looking down your nose at others. Under villains I enjoyed the chapter on Barbara Covett (the narrator of Notes on a Scandal) although I’m not sure she’d have been someone I’d have acknowledged as an obvious candidate. It's an interesting format and concept that sometimes works and sometimes misses by a mile.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Deborah J

    I somehow missed the TV series that accompanies the book, but it's probably best to read about literary characters rather than watch a programme about them. This made me want to reread some novels I haven't read for some time, and read others I've never got round to (Great Expectations, Raj Quartet). I was a little taken aback by Faulks' reading of The Golden Notebook which I read in my early 20s and found moving and thought-provoking. I've never dared reread it since, and now I don't think I ev I somehow missed the TV series that accompanies the book, but it's probably best to read about literary characters rather than watch a programme about them. This made me want to reread some novels I haven't read for some time, and read others I've never got round to (Great Expectations, Raj Quartet). I was a little taken aback by Faulks' reading of The Golden Notebook which I read in my early 20s and found moving and thought-provoking. I've never dared reread it since, and now I don't think I ever will! Faulks makes what could have been rather arid material easy to read and informative.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Realini

    Faulks on Fiction – Great British Characters and the Secret Life of the Novel by Sebastian Faulks 10 out of 10 When a reader finds a writer that he or she loves, it is only natural to try to read more of the same author and this is what happened to the undersigned when he finished Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks - http://realini.blogspot.com/2019/09/b... The excellent writer has a BBC series on fiction, divided into episodes about The Lover, The Villain, The Hero, The Snob, which you can find on the Faulks on Fiction – Great British Characters and the Secret Life of the Novel by Sebastian Faulks 10 out of 10 When a reader finds a writer that he or she loves, it is only natural to try to read more of the same author and this is what happened to the undersigned when he finished Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks - http://realini.blogspot.com/2019/09/b... The excellent writer has a BBC series on fiction, divided into episodes about The Lover, The Villain, The Hero, The Snob, which you can find on the internet and the book in question here is in fact an adjunct, if not an afterthought of the ‘landmark television program’. For the undersigned, the more interesting, amusing passages have related to the books he has enjoyed, trying to keep the attention to a minimum when works that he intends to read where discussed, since there seem to be, together with valuable insight and creative insight, some spoiler alerts…for instance, Sebastian Faulks mentions the death of Anna Karenina, although we could agree that anybody who has not yet read the classic, has about one chance in a million to be interested in Faulks on Fiction, which is anyway meant for the more or less avid reader, keen to know what the creator makes of some of his best loved prose. On the subject of Tolstoy, we do not get much except a mention in passing- maybe two – because this is Great British Characters, even if the erudite Faulks refers to authors outside the once great empire – and we understand that the present day reader would not engage with quintessential novels like War and Peace or Vanity Fair, because they do not have the attention span, do not wish to dedicate time to a long narrative. Although it is so interesting to find what an established, bestselling author thinks about Great Characters and fiction in general, and with that to be invited into the inner sanctum of the creator, to learn how he or she writes in the pages about some personal experiences, but the critics that exaggerate in their search for real life people that inspire fictional personages are wrong in thinking that everything has a correspondent in real life, we can disagree with Sebastian Faulks. For instance, I have heard either William Boyd or Kingsley Amis – I tend to think it was the former – speaking about the fact that the reader can find the writer on every page as a real person, his real character is omnipresent – not in those words, evidently, but there appears to be a major difference in opinions, in the way that Faulks operates, for he mentions the idea that yes, he would write about the sensation of taking a hot bath, the rain drops falling from the skin, but ultimately, it is the reader’s own sensation of nausea that she or he feels when reading about it. In the first few passages, we find from Faulks on Fiction that the new tendency in literary criticism of insisting on biography is wrong in its excess and we have fun reading how the author was thought to be French, about 105 and a woman when his Birdsong was published and how in meetings with the public, those in the audience where disappointed to find he has not been in the war and many, if not most where sure that he must have found papers that belong to someone else and he has just passed them as his. One can feel that The Murder in the Rue Morgue has an innovative killer – and we can mention it, since the question of spoiler alert has been established, it is missing in Great Characters – the orangutan, albeit Faulks feels it is rather idiotic. Lucky Jim is a Magnus opus that the undersigned is in awe with and Jim Dixon has a chapter as one of the Great British Characters as the central figure in the masterpiece of Kingsley Amis – the hero of Money, another celebrated work, by the acclaimed son, Martin Amis, is analyzed - Another memorable figure is that of Becky Sharp, the unlikely heroine of Vanity Fair, a book that its author declares it has no hero, a woman of unbelievable psychological strength, of astounding vitality, mesmerizing personality, enviable grit, unique determination, extraordinary bravery, but with doubtful moral profile, willing to cheat and lie, self-absorbed, uninterested in her child, unless there is a public to appreciate her qualities as a mother…an unforgettable, fascinating main character nevertheless. Following the retelling of a cherished novel, such as the unbelievable, hilarious, immensely rewarding Lucky Jim (for this reader’s take on it, you can go to: http://realini.blogspot.com/2018/05/l...) one can rediscover the personages he loves and find the novelty of someone else’s perspective exhilarating. Sebastian Faulks compares the different styles of iconic father, Kingsley Amis, and apparently equally gifted son – in spite of the fact that the undersigned has started reading Money, he found it baffling and less engaging than the father’s magnificent novels – another chef d’oeuvre is Ending Up (http://realini.blogspot.com/2018/07/e...) Faulks on Fiction appears to have been much less successful with the reading public than the immensely popular Birdsong, or Charlotte Gray – mentioned in passing in the book, in jest, referring to the mentioned false assumption of readers that Faulks must have been parachuted on the continent in order to be able to write the book – but it is to be expected for a work that is not literary criticism exactly, but appeals to a smaller audience by definition nonetheless.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Norton Stone

    If it is your intention to write the next great literary fiction this collection of great character critiques is undoubtedly instructional, though it might equally put you off ever putting pen to paper again. I'm not quite sure whether science becomes art or whether art can be disassembled into a series of quite deliberate and reproducible steps. Quite clearly we would all love to be talented but most of us are not. It is crushingly obvious the writers here are hugely talented. Faulks shows us how If it is your intention to write the next great literary fiction this collection of great character critiques is undoubtedly instructional, though it might equally put you off ever putting pen to paper again. I'm not quite sure whether science becomes art or whether art can be disassembled into a series of quite deliberate and reproducible steps. Quite clearly we would all love to be talented but most of us are not. It is crushingly obvious the writers here are hugely talented. Faulks shows us how the characters work, and if each piece of observational brilliance on the part of the writer was as pre-conceived as Faulks would appear to imply, it robs my heart of it's natural beat and puts something too mechanical in its place. Did all these writers observe a literary method or were their talents deconstructed to establish a science? Head or heart? I don't feel I want to know the answer yet Faulks is relentless, and of course he's no mean writer himself. I imagine great writers read a lot so there must be a degree of theft, and so the literary canon must be built on some structural foundation, yet I want to believe there is a randomness in the way writers emerge. On that level this can be a hard read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shelly Dennison

    Interesting ramble through the history of fiction in English, made more entertaining by being Faulks' particular take on the novels and characters and interspersed with his own anecdotes. Doesn't pretend to be comprehensive and divides characters into heroes, villains, lovers and snobs which in some cases is a bit arbitrary but provides the book with structure. My list of books to reread and seek out has got rather longer as a result of reading this which is no bad thing! Interesting ramble through the history of fiction in English, made more entertaining by being Faulks' particular take on the novels and characters and interspersed with his own anecdotes. Doesn't pretend to be comprehensive and divides characters into heroes, villains, lovers and snobs which in some cases is a bit arbitrary but provides the book with structure. My list of books to reread and seek out has got rather longer as a result of reading this which is no bad thing!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Grant Ellis

    The master novelist on the art of writing and the style of some of the greatest novelists. This is a celebration of the greatest characters to be created in British literature. Faulks comes across as a fan; I really enjoyed his thoughts on Jeeves and James Bond (he has written homages as both Wodehouse and Fleming). I didn't see the BBC series that this book supported but I wish I had. Ahighly enjoyable book. The master novelist on the art of writing and the style of some of the greatest novelists. This is a celebration of the greatest characters to be created in British literature. Faulks comes across as a fan; I really enjoyed his thoughts on Jeeves and James Bond (he has written homages as both Wodehouse and Fleming). I didn't see the BBC series that this book supported but I wish I had. Ahighly enjoyable book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vasilia

    Not very insightful, and Faults has a habit of making blanket statements as though everyone universally agrees with them. E.g.: mr Darcy has depression, is attracted to Elizabeth because she can lift him out of it, like a human Prozac pill. Odd interpretation. Not offensive, just peculiar, and certainly not a universal consensus on the character of Darcy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jo Bullen

    Quite interesting in places, especially the hero part. A very self-indulgent bit on James Bond which I skipped. Very useful for my teaching

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I was quite disappointed with this, alas. My video review can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_co... I was quite disappointed with this, alas. My video review can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_co...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    This book explores 4 types of literary characters (heroes, lovers, snobs and villains) by discussing 7 examples per type. Faulks limited himself to British novels from the 18th century till now because otherwise the selection would have been even more impossible to make. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. When he analyzed a book I had already read, his thoughts helped deepen my understanding of the novel and offered new insights. For example, his view of the love between Eliza This book explores 4 types of literary characters (heroes, lovers, snobs and villains) by discussing 7 examples per type. Faulks limited himself to British novels from the 18th century till now because otherwise the selection would have been even more impossible to make. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. When he analyzed a book I had already read, his thoughts helped deepen my understanding of the novel and offered new insights. For example, his view of the love between Elizabeth and Darcy is completely different from mine. I didn't particularly enjoy 'Pride and Prejudice', but I did think it was a beautiful, happy-ending love story. Faulks views their romance in a far more pessimistic, or, if I'm honest, realistic way, by saying Darcy's depression and his many flaws will inevitably drive them apart. When a book I hadn't read was talked about, it gave me a good idea of what it's about and whether or not it was something I'd enjoy. On a more universal level though, he discusses some very interesting ideas on literary characters in general and their evolution in the novel throughout the centuries. The only reason I'm not giving this 5 stars is because of the book selection. Some books included here, like 'The Golden Notebook', 'The Line of Beauty', 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brody', 'James Bond', 'Brick Lane' and the Raj Quartet didn't appeal to me in the slightest. This made reading about them just a little tedious. As you can probably tell from this list, I prefer older novels to modern ones. I understand the need to include newer novels, otherwise you can't properly show the evolution of these types of characters, but just strictly personally speaking, I would have preferred to keep the amount of modern books to an absolute minimum. The only category I liked 100% is the 'heroes' one, I have nothing bad to say about the book selection there. All in all, I would highly recommend this book to just about anyone with a serious love of literature and a interest to learn more about the history of the novel in a fun way. Even if you've watched the tv show, like I did, reading the book version gives you far more information.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jelliebeans

    This was a real pleasure to read, and its a book I may return to in a few years when I've read more of the books Faulks covers here. I found it thought-provoking in a number of places, and it has sparked my interest in reading or re-reading some of these classics of British literature. Faulks neatly places each book in its historical and literary context, reflecting on connections and broader cultural meaning. The most pleasurable thing, though, is that the treatment remains essentially human, e This was a real pleasure to read, and its a book I may return to in a few years when I've read more of the books Faulks covers here. I found it thought-provoking in a number of places, and it has sparked my interest in reading or re-reading some of these classics of British literature. Faulks neatly places each book in its historical and literary context, reflecting on connections and broader cultural meaning. The most pleasurable thing, though, is that the treatment remains essentially human, exploring the people who come to life in the minds of readers and writers, why they hold such attraction to us, and what that might tell us about who we are. The book has a simple structure, categorising its characters as 'Heroes', 'Lovers', 'Snobs' and 'Villains'. The chapter on Winston Smith of '1984' stands out as my favourite. 1984 is one of the few books I have read more than once, and expect to read again in my lifetime, so perhaps its to be expected that I'd like this one. Faulks understands what makes Winston's personal actions political in the context of the twentieth century, and that his minor acts of subversion earn him a place in the book's category of 'hero'. Faulks puts it better than I can: "In the twentieth century, the hero tends to be a captive. He can no longer, like Tom Jones or Becky Sharp, make a free stand against society, or like Robinson Crusoe triumph through individual strength over the dangers of his physical and mental landscape. Winston's heroism exists in the fact that he dares to write down his story, dares to think and dares to love, knowing all the time that this will lead to torture and to death." Another reviewer here mentions that the writing can sometimes be alienating because Faulks assumes too much common experience - I also found this to be true. Apart from that, its simply enjoyable to spend time in the company of a fellow book-lover who can write about the books they love so eloquently. Recommended if you don't mind the spoilers! I skipped the 'Great Expectations' chapter for this reason.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maya Panika

    Though ostensibly a tie-in with the BBC series of the same name, this 11 hour long audio book delves much deeper into the heart of the history of the English novel than the television programmes, and the tone is far dryer and more academic. Focussing firmly on plot, character and writing (rather than writers), Faulks on Fiction is pretty much what it says on the tin. It is a highly personal look at what makes a great novel. No one with an opinion is likely to agree with all - or indeed, any - of Though ostensibly a tie-in with the BBC series of the same name, this 11 hour long audio book delves much deeper into the heart of the history of the English novel than the television programmes, and the tone is far dryer and more academic. Focussing firmly on plot, character and writing (rather than writers), Faulks on Fiction is pretty much what it says on the tin. It is a highly personal look at what makes a great novel. No one with an opinion is likely to agree with all - or indeed, any - of Faulks’ opinions and deductions on the twenty eight novels though book groups and A level students will probably find this a useful starting point to kick-off debate and discussion. Book groups and students aside, I’m not at all sure what market this audio book is aimed at; with a level pitched somewhere between A level crib and university seminar, it seems unlikely to be of appeal to the general reader, but at anyone with a broadly academic interest in English Literature should find it at least intermittently interesting. Since he fronts the TV show and the book bears his name, it seems odd Sebastian Faulks didn’t do the reading himself, though James Wilby’s voice and tone (bar the curious lapse into comedy milkmaid for Tess of the D’Urbervilles) seems perfectly pitched for this decidedly intellectual production.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tweedledum

    I really enjoyed the interesting way in which Sebastian Faulks explored the development of the novel through comparing heros, villans, snobs and lovers. The relaxed but informative discussion made me want to revisit some old favourites... Robinson Crusoe and The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, helped me decide definitely against Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady and The Golden Notebook and encouraged me to seek out Mr Norris Changes Trains. Faulks analysis of Jeeves and James Bond as I really enjoyed the interesting way in which Sebastian Faulks explored the development of the novel through comparing heros, villans, snobs and lovers. The relaxed but informative discussion made me want to revisit some old favourites... Robinson Crusoe and The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, helped me decide definitely against Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady and The Golden Notebook and encouraged me to seek out Mr Norris Changes Trains. Faulks analysis of Jeeves and James Bond as snobs was quite brilliant and also made me feel that I want to revisit both.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    A wonderfully insightful book by someone who obviously loves fiction. For anything you have read you will find lovely descriptions of your thoughts, placed in context of so many books you are yet to be acquainted with. My appetite has been whetted for every discovery in this book and few old enemies may get a re-read. My aha moment with this book came when he got on to Hardy who I have always found hard to place in reading, many of his books where tried and given up in my youth, and he puts his f A wonderfully insightful book by someone who obviously loves fiction. For anything you have read you will find lovely descriptions of your thoughts, placed in context of so many books you are yet to be acquainted with. My appetite has been whetted for every discovery in this book and few old enemies may get a re-read. My aha moment with this book came when he got on to Hardy who I have always found hard to place in reading, many of his books where tried and given up in my youth, and he puts his finger on the issues, as well as Stella Gibbon does, while still placing its charm. The reason I read it, the up coming Jeeves and Wooster book seems well in hand, as his description of taking over Bond shows he is as meticulous and empathetic as Wodehouse's stlye requires. A must for aspiring writes and book anoraks.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hannah (jellicoereads)

    Faulks on Fiction was a great read, particularly for an english major like myself. He provides the perfect balance of summary and analysis of some of the greatest British characters and novels. The book is divided into sections - Heroes, Lovers, Snobs and Villains, and contains an assortment of our favourite fictional people - Mr Darcy, Heathcliff, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Emma Woodhouse, Jeeves and Becky Sharp, to name but a few. Furthermore, the selection was particularly diverse - female Faulks on Fiction was a great read, particularly for an english major like myself. He provides the perfect balance of summary and analysis of some of the greatest British characters and novels. The book is divided into sections - Heroes, Lovers, Snobs and Villains, and contains an assortment of our favourite fictional people - Mr Darcy, Heathcliff, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Emma Woodhouse, Jeeves and Becky Sharp, to name but a few. Furthermore, the selection was particularly diverse - female lovers, gay characters, blue collar workers, etc. Well-written, informative and completely entertaining!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Popup-ch

    This book purports to be an overview of characters from 'Great British Fiction', and includes vignettes of Robinson Crusoe to James Bond, Pip to Jeeves and Emma to Clarissa. There are some discussions about how they represent different archetypes of protagonists (From 'hero' to 'villain' and 'snob' etc), but most of the book is a prolonged discussion about how various Victorian characters had (or didn't have) sex. Which gets a bit tedious. Faulks is also needlessly banging his own drum. There is This book purports to be an overview of characters from 'Great British Fiction', and includes vignettes of Robinson Crusoe to James Bond, Pip to Jeeves and Emma to Clarissa. There are some discussions about how they represent different archetypes of protagonists (From 'hero' to 'villain' and 'snob' etc), but most of the book is a prolonged discussion about how various Victorian characters had (or didn't have) sex. Which gets a bit tedious. Faulks is also needlessly banging his own drum. There is a long segment about how he wrote 'Devil may Care', his James Bond story, in the style of Ian Fleming.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    Based on a BBC 2 series, the main interest of this book is dependent on the reader having read the novels in question. Having said that, some of the characters are so well-known (Mr Darcy and James Bond, for example) that their respective chapters are worth reading about, even if you haven't read the books in question. That being said, for me the most satisfying aspect of the book was to read about the individuals from less well-known books (Steerpike and Ronald Merrick come to mind). In this wa Based on a BBC 2 series, the main interest of this book is dependent on the reader having read the novels in question. Having said that, some of the characters are so well-known (Mr Darcy and James Bond, for example) that their respective chapters are worth reading about, even if you haven't read the books in question. That being said, for me the most satisfying aspect of the book was to read about the individuals from less well-known books (Steerpike and Ronald Merrick come to mind). In this way the book satisfies the inner literary snob that lurks in the heart of the best of us.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sheila Agnew

    I enjoyed reading this book a lot although the Darcy analysis made me giggle a little. Mr. Falks seems almost jealous of Mr Darcy, basically deciding that he was nothing but a morose depressive who needed Elizabeth in lieu of popping anti-depressant pills. Mr. Falks doesn't understand why women love Mr. Darcy. Men never get that. We love Mr. Darcy because we love Elizabeth! Darcy gets the GREATNESS of Elizabeth Bennet, and for that we love him. I look forward to reading this book again. It's def I enjoyed reading this book a lot although the Darcy analysis made me giggle a little. Mr. Falks seems almost jealous of Mr Darcy, basically deciding that he was nothing but a morose depressive who needed Elizabeth in lieu of popping anti-depressant pills. Mr. Falks doesn't understand why women love Mr. Darcy. Men never get that. We love Mr. Darcy because we love Elizabeth! Darcy gets the GREATNESS of Elizabeth Bennet, and for that we love him. I look forward to reading this book again. It's definitely interesting enough to read at least twice.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Louise Armstrong

    An interesting ramble. I seem to have missed the TV series, I don't even remember it being on. The main thing I got from this book is the growth of the cult of the writer as personality. He's right. That night, I taped a programme that said it was about Frankenstein and Dracula, which I'm interested in, and it turned out to be a dramatic reconstruction of events at the Villa Forgotten the Name where the books were written, which doesn't interest me at all. Especially with luvvies with blank well An interesting ramble. I seem to have missed the TV series, I don't even remember it being on. The main thing I got from this book is the growth of the cult of the writer as personality. He's right. That night, I taped a programme that said it was about Frankenstein and Dracula, which I'm interested in, and it turned out to be a dramatic reconstruction of events at the Villa Forgotten the Name where the books were written, which doesn't interest me at all. Especially with luvvies with blank well-fed faces trying to be Byron and Shelley!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Eeles

    An interesting take on classic literature. However for me this reads a little like the York Notes edition. Ideal reading if you're studying English Lit, but quite hard going as a piece in its own right. For me its all a little too clinical, and a commentary of each story rather then a discussion of the principal characters. An interesting take on classic literature. However for me this reads a little like the York Notes edition. Ideal reading if you're studying English Lit, but quite hard going as a piece in its own right. For me its all a little too clinical, and a commentary of each story rather then a discussion of the principal characters.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Rand

    I was always going to like this book a bit for being the one that finished off my reading goal for the year, but even without that I think it would have been a joy for a quiet Christmas read. I'd only read a few of the books but it's mostly good without their input and has given me a few things to add to my reading list. I was always going to like this book a bit for being the one that finished off my reading goal for the year, but even without that I think it would have been a joy for a quiet Christmas read. I'd only read a few of the books but it's mostly good without their input and has given me a few things to add to my reading list.

  26. 5 out of 5

    MyBookAffair

    I am SOOO excited to have been given a copy of this book as a present! Bliss!!! So far I've just been carrying it around with me all day and dipping into it whenever I get a minute. It's going to be a huge favourite of mine. :) I am SOOO excited to have been given a copy of this book as a present! Bliss!!! So far I've just been carrying it around with me all day and dipping into it whenever I get a minute. It's going to be a huge favourite of mine. :)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ppyett

    I really enjoyed this well-informed discussion of 28 novels through each of their main characters. It's like a private book club with a chatty friend and makes you want to read just about all the books again (if you've already read them) or go and find a copy of the ones you haven't read. I really enjoyed this well-informed discussion of 28 novels through each of their main characters. It's like a private book club with a chatty friend and makes you want to read just about all the books again (if you've already read them) or go and find a copy of the ones you haven't read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Venuskitten

    Intelligent clear and perceptive reviews and assessments of English classic novels.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jodie

    A study of characters I already love, and of characters I can’t wait to get to know.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maxine

    Good intersting read did not see the Television seris that the book is from

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