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Customer Reviews for

When Madeline Was Young

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
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5 Star

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2007

    A Major Disappointment

    After reading this book I was left wondering if Jane Hamilton hired a ghost writer to author Book of Ruth, Short History of a Prince, and Map of the the World. These are three of my all-time favorite books and was excited to read Hamilton's latest work assuming it would be of that caliber. Wow...what a disappointment. The ludicrous premise and slow pace of the book was so different than her other books (although I did think Disobedience was pretty bad too)that I was left wondering how such a fabulous author could write such an inane book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2010

    Not the Author's Best

    Recently married, Madeline, is in a bike accident, suffers permanent brain damage, leaving her with the cognitive abilities of a six-year-old. Her husband, Aaron, remarries, and he and his second wife care for Madeline, along with their own two children. The story is told from their son's point of view, Mac .
    Through his changing perspective of Madeline, growing up with her as a kind of sister, and coming to terms with his complicated relationship with his cousin, Buddy, in childhood, during the Vietnam War years, and through the Gulf Wars, Mac paints a picture of family conflict, love, and bonding with family.

    I didn't think this book was great, but it was enjoyable "company," listening to the audiobook and getting to "know" Mac. Although the unusual relationship with Madeline is intrigue, this seemed to be just a backdrop to the plot of the story, and I kept hoping the author would get back to Madeline, make her more central, but this never happened.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2007

    Genius recounting of glorious dysfunctions

    When Madeline Was Young is an overall metaphor for when middle America was young. The wonderful but tragic, if unusual, events and people that happen in most families and give nod to my familial memories, are superbly executed in this superior first person male narration. Hamilton expertly turns memorable phrases, adds humor in both humdrum and serious situations, and mirrors real-life questions of polital morality. I'm amazed at her literary versatility! Map of the World took me to the darkest place of human unfairness and experience. When Madeline Was Young will endure internally as a profound look at characters dealing with tragedy in a not usual, but workable way. Characterization and overall genius of plot are evident. 'Loved it!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2006

    Not as Good as Her Others

    I was prepared to LOVE Hamilton's latest novel, as I have all her others. (The Book of Ruth is, in fact, one of my all-time favorite books.) And this book, true to form, was well-written, insightful, and probably even more complex than her others. However, about one-third of the way through, I was actually bored with its slow pace and lack of engagement and found myself skimming ahead. I never did finish it. (It's probably MY failing more than hers.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2006

    Heartbreaking in its happiness, heartbreaking in its sadness

    Profoundly moving, if not perfect. Some oddball clunker sentences, some strange shifts in points of view, but a deep look at some big and nicely complicated characters and relationships. Hamilton tries to do too much, covers too much time and cultutal history,and lets one of the main characters go on too long in her anti-war (Viet Nam...Iraq) arguments, still, that character is someone you'd like to count among your friends. The central story of the narrator (and Madeline's) family is weird and beautiful and poignant. Full of love and inspiring, really: how often can you say that about a book?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2007

    Not one of her best

    I was also excited to read another of Ms. Hamilton's books. I read Map of the World and Book of Ruth, which were wonderful. This one was not of that league. The premise didn't make sense. The relationship between the parents of the narrator and the brain damaged first wife, didnt make sense. The husband lived with his beautiful first wife and had a plain second wife, yet when they were all three in bed together, he felt no desire for his first wife? Even though the story was told by the young son, there could have been some hints of this in the book that the son would mention but not interrupt as the reader would The premise was not believable. There were other things also with regard to this husband's feelings or lack of sexuality toward his first wife, which I don't think would hold true. I would be more specific but I dont want to spoil it for those who want to read the book. Also, the second wife was so involved and in love with the first wife, maybe there was a lesbian factor there, but no hints of this were given. Otherwise, it doesnt make sense as she seemed to like Madeline more than her own children. Yes, it was slow, but there were some good moments. The family dynamics that did not involve the husband's feelings toward Madeline, such as the relationship between his cousins and their escapes, was well written and sincere. So this was not a 'bad' book, just not as good as one would expect from such a well versed author.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2006

    A bit of a disappointment

    It started out well enough, but fell a bit flat. Not as good as I expected, based on my previous experience with Jane Hamilton.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2006

    Tooo jumpy

    I like this book--I really do. I like the historical context of it all(I was a history major), its interesting story line and concept, and the characters are endearing to say the least. But I think Hamilton jumps around far too much--going into present day then back to the past, then back to the present then back to the past to an event she covered before but talking about it in a different way. Plus I think its weird that the title of book centers all around Madeline when really this book isnt about her at all. Still an enjoyable although very complex read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2006

    Wanted more from Jane

    I also was prepared to enjoy this book but found myself very bored and quit on page 122. I didn't care what happened to any of the characters. The pace was excruciatingly slow. ( I also found the premise so ridiculous)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 11, 2012

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    Posted January 21, 2011

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    Posted August 18, 2009

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    Posted April 27, 2009

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