On Beauty

( 53 )

Overview

Winner of the 2006 Orange Prize for fiction and from the celebrated author of White Teeth comes another bestselling masterwork

Having hit bestseller lists from the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle, this wise, hilarious novel reminds us why Zadie Smith has rocketed to literary stardom. On Beauty is the story of an interracial family living in the university town of Wellington, Massachusetts, whose misadventures in the culture wars-on both sides of the Atlantic-serve ...

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Overview

Winner of the 2006 Orange Prize for fiction and from the celebrated author of White Teeth comes another bestselling masterwork

Having hit bestseller lists from the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle, this wise, hilarious novel reminds us why Zadie Smith has rocketed to literary stardom. On Beauty is the story of an interracial family living in the university town of Wellington, Massachusetts, whose misadventures in the culture wars-on both sides of the Atlantic-serve to skewer everything from family life to political correctness to the combustive collision between the personal and the political. Full of dead-on wit and relentlessly funny, this tour de force confirms Zadie Smith's reputation as a major literary talent.

Named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, Entertainment Weekly, Time, and Publishers Weekly A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Denver Post, and Publishers Weekly bestseller A Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Atlantic Monthly, Newsday, Christian Science Monitor, and Minneapolis Star Tribune Best Book of the Year Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize BACKCOVER: Praise for On Beauty:

"A thoroughly original tale . . . wonderfully engaging, wonderfully observed . . . That rare thing: a novel that is as affecting as it is entertaining, as provocative as it is humane."
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A thing of beauty. Oh happy day when a writer as gifted as Zadie Smith fulfills her early promise with a novel as accomplished, substantive and penetrating as On Beauty."
-Los Angeles Times

"Smith's specialty is her ability to render the new world, in its vibrant multiculturalism, with a kind of dancing, daring joy. . . . Her plots and people sing with life. . . . One of the best of the year, a splendid treat. "
-Chicago Tribune

"Short-listed for [the 2005] Man Booker Prize, On Beauty is a rollicking satire . . . a tremendously good read."
-San Francisco Chronicle

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Belsey family is at loose ends. Howard is a British-born Rembrandt scholar who doesn't like Rembrandt or his teaching job at an upper-echelon New England arts college. His wife, Kiki, has outlived her image as a sexy radical activist, and their three children are pursuing disparate paths with wholehearted abandon. Then, just at the moment when it seems that total dysfunction has been achieved, one of the offspring falls madly in love with the stunning daughter of a right-wing political commentator. With its spot-on portrayal of the political conflicts and “culture wars” of modern life, Zadie Smith’s novel wittily evokes E. M. Forster’s Howards End and ensures the author a place in the pantheon of 21st-century literary stars.
Michael Dirda
White Teeth brought Zadie Smith worldwide acclaim when she was in her early twenties, leading some people to fear she might be one of those brilliant one-shot hotshots. But after The Autograph Man and now On Beauty , it's evident that Smith is a writer for the long haul, an artist whose books we will look forward to every few years, a real and deeply satisfying novelist. E.M. Forster would be proud.
— The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
On Beauty opens out to provide the reader with a splashy, irreverent look at campus politics, political correctness and the ways different generations regard race and class, but its real focus is on personal relationships - what E. M. Forster regarded as "the real life, forever and ever." Like Forster, Ms. Smith possesses a captivating authorial voice - at once authoritative and nonchalant, and capacious enough to accommodate high moral seriousness, laid-back humor and virtually everything in between - and in these pages, she uses that voice to enormous effect, giving us that rare thing: a novel that is as affecting as it is entertaining, as provocative as it is humane.
— THe New York Times
Publishers Weekly
This is a superb novel, a many-cultured Middlemarch, but it's a rough one for an actor. James juggles a large cast of Brits and Yanks, middle- and working-class white, African-American, West Indian and African men and women, as well as street teens, wannabe street teens and don't-wannabe street teens. James has a beautiful, deep voice that at first seems antithetical to Smith's ship of fools, but he enhances the humor and pathos with vocal understatement. He helps give characters their rightful place in the saga. The parade of characters swirl around two antagonistic Rembrandt scholars in a Massachusetts college town. Howard Belsey is a self-absorbed, working-class British white man married to African-American Kiki and father to three cafe-au-lait children. Monty Kipps is a West Indian stuffed-shirt married to the generous Carlene, with a gorgeous daughter, Veronica. The book is funny and infuriating, crammed with multiple shades of love and lust, midlife and teenlife crises. Class, race and political conflicts are generally an integral part of a story that occasionally strays from its center. The theme of beauty as counterpoint to individual, family, cultural and social foibles and failures ribbons through the novel and wraps it up, perhaps to say that Beauty is, finally, the only Truth. Simultaneous release with the Penguin Press hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 1) (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Smith was highly praised for her debut novel, White Teeth, and it probably set high expectations for this third novel, but she may have tried to be too faithful to the book's inspiration, E.M. Forster's Howard's End. As much as Smith updates the class war with modern references to big-box stores, iPods, politics, and such, the academically based battle between the Kipps and the Belseys is more frozen in Forster's drawing room sensibilities than its contemporary urban settings. The characters are too strained and generally unsympathetic to engage one in their troubles or dreams. Yet Smith's descriptions of some of the personas, particularly the opposing matriarchs and their younger children, suggest a looser story that could have been a lot more fun. The work doesn't live up to the hype, although Peter Francis James's reading is appropriately earnest. Disappointing.-Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-A hilarious comedy of manners in the tradition of Austen, Wharton, and Forster, to whom the author pays homage. She tackles class, race, and gender with acerbic wit and a wise eye for the complexities of modern life, in a 21st-century update of Howard's End. Beauty opens as hapless art historian Howard Belsey, a transplanted Englishman married to an African-American woman, returns to London to prevent his son from marrying the daughter of his academic rival, Monty Kipps. Jerome has fallen in love not just with Victoria, but with the entire family, whose Trinidadian, right-wing roots are a sharp contrast to the freewheeling liberalism of his own family. In the meantime, Belsey's other children, social activist Zora and Levi, who speaks only street slang and fancies himself from the 'hood, are each seeking the commitments and identities that will define their own lives. What results is a vivid portrait of marriage, family, the conflict between the political and the personal, and people's eternal affinity for self-deception. Teens will enjoy this romp through the labyrinth of relationships that help a family mature and find its beautiful moments.-Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An academic comedy of multicultural manners finds Smith recapturing the sparkle of White Teeth (2000). Following her sophomore slump with The Autograph Man (2002), the British author returns to biting, frequently hilarious form with a novel that concerns two professors who are intellectual enemies but whose families become intertwined. Radical theorist Howard Belsey, a British art historian married to the African-American Kiki, detests the cultural conservatism of Monty Kipps, a Caribbean scholar based in England. Kipps apparently has the best of their rivalry, having raised his profile with a well-received book on Rembrandt that stands in stark contrast to Belsey's attempts to complete a counter-argument manuscript. Through a series of unlikely coincidences, Belsey's son becomes engaged to Kipps's irresistibly beautiful daughter, Kipps accepts an invitation to become guest lecturer at the Massachusetts college where Belsey is struggling for tenure and the wives of the two discover that they are soul mates. As Smith details the generation-spanning interactions of various minorities within a predominantly white, liberal community, she finds shades of meaning in shades of skin tone, probing the prickly issues of affirmative action, race relations and cultural imperialism while skewering the political correctness that masks emotional honesty. As the author acknowledges in an afterword, her story's structure pays homage to E.M. Forster's Howards End, recasting the epistolary beginning of that book as a series of e-mails, while incorporating all sorts of contemporary cultural allusions to hip-hop, academic theory and the political climate in the wake of 9/11. Though much of the plot concernsthe hypocrisies and occasional buffoonery of the professors, along with the romantic entanglements and social crises of their offspring, the heart and soul of the novel is Kiki Belsey, who must decide whether to continue to nurture a husband who doesn't deserve her. While some characters receive scant development, the personality that shines through the narrative most strongly is that of Smith. In this sharp, engaging satire, beauty's only skin-deep, but funny cuts to the bone.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143037743
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/29/2006
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 185,611
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.47 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Zadie  Smith

ZADIE SMITH was born in northwest London in 1975. She is the author of White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, Changing My Mind, and NW.

Biography

The debut wunderkind of the new millennium was Zadie Smith, who finished her manuscript for White Teeth as a college student in Cambridge, England, only to find herself sitting on a six-figure advance, an international bestseller, and an onslaught of literary praise comparing her to the likes of Charles Dickens and Salman Rushdie.

Born in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother, Smith grew up in London's poly-ethnic Willesden Green neighborhood, a backdrop she has mined with great success in stories that parse the immigrant experience and investigate overarching themes of race, class, and intergenerational ties. She attended King's College in Cambridge, submitted stories to a college anthology, and got noticed by a literary agent who wangled the deal that led to her first novel. Spanning 150 years, mixing Jamaican, English, and Bangladeshi into its characters' family trees, and focused on three clans in London, White Teeth garnered lavish praise on its publication in 2000. Notoriously critical New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani called it "...a big, splashy, populous production ... that announces the debut of a preternaturally gifted new writer." The San Francisco Chronicle pronounced it the first great novel of the new century, and Time likened Smith to Margaret Atwood and Pulitzer winner Michael Chabon.

In the midst of all the hosannas, though, one negative review stands out. A notice in the literary magazine Butterfly proclaimed: "White Teeth is the literary equivalent of a hyperactive, ginger-haired, tap-dancing 10-year-old." The author of this snipe? Zadie Smith, of course! "I was very worried that if this book did well or was forced to do well by a lot of hype behind it, that I wouldn't write anything again," she explained to London's Independent in 2000

Apparently Smith seriously underestimated her accomplishment. White Teeth scooped the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and was shortlisted for a several other prestigious literary awards. Moreover, she stared down the dreaded specter of sophomore slump with her second novel, 2002's The Autograph Man, a meditation on her own celebrity that zoomed up the bestseller list, won the Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize for Fiction, and positioned Smith for inclusion in Granta magazine's 2003 list of the 20 best young British writers -- a roster compiled once every 10 years.

Smith continues to forge fiction that gets noticed. In addition, she has edited and written introductions to anthologies that showcase the preeminent writers of her generation.

Good To Know

Smith changed her name from "Sadie" to "Zadie," "because it seemed right, exotic, different," she told the Guardian.

Smith's third novel, On Beauty takes its title from Elaine Scarry's essay "On Beauty and Being Just."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Sadie Smith (birth name)
    2. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 27, 1975
    2. Place of Birth:
      Willesden, London, England
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, King's College at Cambridge University, 1998

Read an Excerpt

One may as well begin with Jerome's e-mails to his father:

To: HowardBelsey@fas.Wellington.edu

From: Jeromeabroad@easymail.com

Date: Nov 5th

Subject: (none)

Hey Dad—basically I'm just going to keep on keeping on with these mails—I'm no longer expecting you to reply but I am still hoping you will, if that makes sense.

Well, I'm really enjoying everything. I work in Monty Kipps' own office (did you know that he's actually Lord Monty??), which is in the Green Park area. It's me and a Cornish girl called Emily. She's cool. There's also three more yank interns downstairs (one from Boston!), so I feel pretty much at home. I'm a kind of an intern with the duties of a PA—organizing lunches, filing, talking to people on the phone, that kind of thing. Monty's work is much more than just the academic stuff—he's involved with the Race Commission and he has church charities in Barbados, Jamaica, Haiti etc—he keeps me pretty busy. Because it's such a small set-up, I get to work closely with him—and of course I'm living with the family now, so it's like being completely integrated into something new. Ah, the family. You didn't respond so I'm imagining your reaction (not too hard to imagine...) the truth is it was really just the most convenient option at the time. And they were totally kind to offer—I was being evicted from the 'bedsit' place in Marylebone—and the Kipps aren't under any obligation to me, but they asked and I accepted—gratefully. I've been in their place a week now, and still no mention of any rent, which should tell you something. I know you want me to tell you it's a nightmare but I can't—I love living here. It's a different universe. The house is just wow — early Victorian, a 'terrace'—unassuming looking outside but massive inside — but there's still a kind of humility that really appeals to me—almost everything white, and a lot of hand—made things, and quilts and dark wood shelves and cornices—and in the whole place there's only one television, which is in the basement anyway just so Monty can keep abreast of news stuff, and some of the stuff he does on the television—but that's it. I think of it as the negativized image of our house sometimes... It's in this bit of North London 'Kilburn' which sounds bucolic but boy oh boy is not bucolic in the least, except for this street we live on off the 'high road' and it's suddenly like you can't hear a thing and you can just sit in the yard in the shadow of this huge tree—80 feet tall and ivy-ed all up the trunk... reading and feeling like you're in a novel... Autumn's different here—Fall much less intense and trees balder earlier—everything more melancholy somehow.

The family are another thing again—they deserve more space and time than I have right now (I'm writing this on my lunch hour). But in brief: one boy: Michael, nice, sporty. A little dull, I guess. You'd think he was anyway. He's a business guy—exactly what business I haven't been able to figure out. And he's huge! He's got two inches on you, at least. They're all big in that athletic, Caribbean way. He must be 6' 5". There's also a very tall and beautiful daughter, Victoria—who I've seen only in photos (she's inter-railing in Europe), but she's coming back for a while on Friday, I think. Monty's wife, Carlene Kipps — perfect. She's not from Trinidad, though—It's a small island, St something—but I'm not sure. I didn't properly hear it the first time she mentioned it and now it's like it's too late to ask. She's always trying to fatten me up—she feeds me constantly. The rest of the family talk about sports and God and politics and Carlene floats above it all like a kind of angel — and she's helping me with prayer. She really knows how to pray—and it's very cool to be able to pray without someone in your family coming into the room and a) passing wind b) shouting c) analyzing the 'phoney metaphysics' of prayer d) singing loudly e) laughing.

So that's Carlene Kipps. Tell Mom that she bakes. Just tell her that and then walk away chuckling...

Now, listen to this next bit carefully: in the morning THE WHOLE KIPPS FAMILY have breakfast together and a conversation TOGETHER and then get into a car TOGETHER (are you taking notes?)—I know, I know—not easy to get your head around. I never met a family who wanted to spend so much time with each other.

I hope you can see from everything I've written that your feud or whatever it is is really a waste of time. It's all on your side anyway—Monty doesn't do feuds. You've never even really met properly—just a lot of public debates and stupid letters. It's such a waste of energy. Most of the cruelty in the world is just misplaced energy. I've got to go—work calls!

Love to Mom and Levi, partial love to Zora,

And remember: I love you dad (and I pray for you, too)

phew! longest mail ever!

Jerome XXOXXXX

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Table of Contents

Zadie Smith on Beauty 1. Kipps and Belsey
2. The Anatomy Lesson
3. On Beauty and Being Wrong
Author's Note

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 53 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 53 Customer Reviews
  • 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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