Customer Reviews for

On Beauty

Average Rating 4
( 53 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(3)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 53 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted December 22, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    on beauty

    I read this book because it was on the list of 1001 books to read before you die. Though I'm still not sure why it's on that list, I did enjoy the book. I found that I liked most of the characters, though Kiki was my favorite. I think that it showed that no one really is as they appear to be to others. I also think that Zadie Smith's writing style is excellent. I had no trouble whatsoever following the dialogue and keeping up with what was going on. I would recommend this book to friends who like to read something different.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2008

    A Brilliant Book

    I'd heard lots of hype about Zadie Smith, and I was not disappointed with On Beauty. The book's unconventional opening line had me hooked: 'One may as well begin with Jerome's e-mails to his father:' The son is saving his virginity for marriage because of a new-found Christian faith, and his liberal, British father, a professor, is unamused - particularly when Jerome falls in love with the daughter of his arch-nemesis, a black, right-wing conservative who is anti-affirmative action, homosexuality, women's rights...and then we're off. Smith dexterously explores issues of race, class and culture through the lens of a family, name-dropping from Rembrandt to Tupac. This is a book that will set the benchmark for future 'modern classics.' Here's an example of her writing chops: 'From here she could see the strangely melancholic format of Jerome's text, italics and ellipses everywhere. Slanted sails blowing about on perforated seas.'

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2012

    She's a great writer and I love this novel. I don't read novels

    She's a great writer and I love this novel. I don't read novels for plot I read them for language and thinking. This is a fine novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The name of the title tells it all: On Beauty! I haven't read co

    The name of the title tells it all: On Beauty! I haven't read contemporary fiction before until I joined a class at school and this is one of the books we had to read. The facts to this story are oh-so-real that you feel the emotions for the characters. Excellent!

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  • Posted May 20, 2012

    Astonishing

    I loved "White Teeth," but Smith outdid herself with this one. Truly extraordinary--and it stays with you.

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  • Posted December 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A so, so interesting read.

    The story revolves around two families that live in Mass. The reader will find the Belseys family with the main character Howard Belsey an Art professor and from the second family; the Kipps there is Monty Kipps. Monty arrives with his family and begins his work at the same university that Howard is employed. In summary these two characters lock horns on various social issues (family life, marriage, faithfulness, etc.) and their strong views are covered in this story that spans over a one year period.
    I suspect that so far this sounds boring, but the author did weave this subplot (I say subplot because there seemed to be numerous plots where I'm in the middle or I'm just starting another one) into the story to make it very interesting. I use the word "interesting" loosely because I found it difficult to find a lot of empathy for the host of characters, although Zora with her sexual problems did stand out in my memory.

    The ending was a let down for me. It left me sort of confused, as if there were more pages to the story that needed to be read. Maybe that was intentional by the author. Overall I'm not sure if I would recommend "On Beauty" to my friends. I guess I would have to be very selective if I did opt to encourage someone to buy the book. Maybe, my best bet would be to advise them to check it out at the library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    Zadie in Bosnia

    Believe it or not, I picked this book up in an America book store in Bosnia. The shop own chatted with me for a few minutes and then pulled this book out. It was a great book. The author pulls you into each character and she makes you reflect on life, especially life on the east coast of the states. Great read!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2008

    A Real Disappointment

    After the reviews, I thought this was going to be a great read. It wasn't even a good read. The attempts at American diction are pretty poor, the characters are annoying and unrealistic, and some of the passages are just boring. And what's with the mediocre poetry? It seems that this went straight from her desk to the publishing house, without stopping by an editor.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2007

    Not an enjoyable read

    I was told this book had dark humor and sarcasm, but I didn't find it funny at all. Didn't particularly like it.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2007

    Love Zadie, but she fell flat here

    I so wanted to enjoy this book, but I just didn't. I first read Autograph Man and fell in love with Zadie Smith. I also enjoyed White Teeth and was really anticipating this book, but it's been weeks and I'm still trying to drag my way through it. I found the characters generally unlikable and I really, really want Zadie to ask an American to read her writing before she attempts any more American dialogue 'or descriptions for that matter'. Should Levi really say, 'So then what am I meant to do?' or SHOULD he say, 'So, NOW what am I supposed to do?' We never say 'I have done.', we say 'I have.' I could go on and on. Basically, it's an 'American' book told in a British voice when each part should be told in the voice of its narrator. The constant shift between under-developed characters makes for a confusing and interrupted read. Something would finally start to happen with one character, when boom - now you're back with some character you haven't heard from in chapters who never really did anything anyway. I'm hoping that this one is a learning experience for Ms. Smith and I'm still awaiting her next novel. Based solely on her first two, I would read anything that she puts out there (no matter how long it may take).

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2007

    Riveting

    Weeks after finishing this novel, I am still seeing and hearing and thinking about these characters. I should say that I had it read to me, an unabridged 'Books on CD' version, and when I say I am hearing it, I mean it. I sometimes turn and look at the source of a voice reminiscent of the orator's who painted these rich, tortured, and growing people on my brain and ears canvas, and whose lives I was lucky enough to catch some glimpses of. And if you are expecting a novel that is tied up with a bow and handed back to you, let yourself explore the surprise of this author's style. I believe this is really why I keep thinking about them, and wondering how this and that turned out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2007

    I kept looking for the 'humor'

    This book was given to me by an English teacher of 30+ years and dear friend. As an avid (understatement) reader, I was delighted, having read the sterling reviews. However, I think I missed the point. I didn't find it particularly amusing and somewhat confusing in 'so what's the point?'. I find Smith's writing to be sterling, her imagery flawless, but her point is lost on me. I do understand the race issue, the problem with pre and post adolescent children. I'm not sure where she's going with all of this. Sex (in a sensational, adolescent context, academia, race and family dysfunction (somewhat deritivate)and not necessarily in that order and so? . . . . .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2006

    A bit of a disappointment

    There are some great insights in this novel, especially about race and class and people who don't fit neatly into categories. On the whole, though, I found the book a bit dull and draggy, and, with the exception of Kiki and Levi, found every character really unlikeable. I didn't dislike the book but would not recommend it to a friend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2006

    I liked the book, but not most of the characters...

    Though I think 'On Beauty' is a great work of fiction and you can tell Zadie Smith's writing is amazingly accomplished, I still left the book feeling like I wished I had a fuller understanding of many of the characters. I think only Kiki and Howard get a real thorough treatment. Smith's writing, not her characters, really pulled me into this work and I'd recommend it to other readers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2006

    I'm sorry but this book is dull.

    I also don't know what all the hype is about. I didn't read White Teeth, but maybe it was better. Anyway, I just did not relate to or like the characters. The story did not grab me. I had no desire to even finish reading it, as I found it so boring.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2006

    Howards End

    If you've read the the E.M. Forster classic, or seen the movie with Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins, you'll love this clever adaption. I'd compare it to the rendering of Austen's Emma into the film 'Clueless'. Recreated to a modern setting, retelling the beautiful and complex interaction of two families and opposing ideas about class, sex, and roots.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2006

    Don't worry, I didn't like the book either.....

    I don't know what all the hubbub about this book is. Grannted, Zadie Smith writes beautifully and her insights and descriptiuons can be engaging and revelatory. But as a whole, 'On Beauty' did not draw me into the plot. Many of the characters are pretentious and unlikable. There is not a gripping aspect to the book. It's not as if you are in dying need to know what dull remark Howard is about to make. The plot is anecdotal and not tightly woven. No doubt you can find some amazing passages in the book but for me, it falls very short of greatness.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2006

    Am I the only person who does not like this book?

    I found the characters in 'On Beauty' to be unbelievable and mostly unlikable. The book would not have made me angry if the author wasn't so obviously capable of better writing. Or if all the media had not gushed so much over the book. I think that the plot is forced ... could two families ever be that entwined on every level? Could all of those people be so uniformly annoying, clueless, and in a couple of cases, evil? Also, I found the older people to be one-dimensional. Perhaps because the author is young. I read nothing but the highest praise for 'On Beauty' but I don't think that this is one of the world's great books. I feel as if Zadie Smith is very smart and has great potential. I have not read her other books but will probably do so out of curiosity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2005

    She's done it again.

    I read 'White Teeth' a few months ago and didn't think she could top that. I was wrong. This is a beautifully written and funny book. Ms. Smith is so insightful when it comes to the human condition. I can't wait to read her next book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2005

    Beautiful Words in 'On Beauty'

    Zadie Smith writes a novel with a story about two families that will last in your memory for a long time. Her characters are unforgettable too. The author writes with pathos, emotion, and also humor. I read the first and last chapters over again, after I finished the book.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 53 Customer Reviews
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