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Description - A Curious Earth by Gerard Woodward

Left with an empty house after the death of his wife, Aldous Jones is tempted to spend the whole day sitting in his chair in the kitchen. But with admirable determination he resumes old pastimes until, one day, wandering London, he is surprised to find a painting that holds him completely in its spell. Rembrandt's portrait of his housekeeper-turned-mistress, Hendrijcke Stoffels, awakens Jones's desire for a new life, a new woman, sex, and companionship. It leads him to Belgium to stay with his bohemian son, to evening language classes, and through a series of slightly misguided relationships until eventually he meets his Hendrijcke. As The Guardian writes, this work is "brave, funny, and beautifully written, as perceptive about Rembrandt and Shakespeare as it is about evening classes, potato tubers sprouting in neglected cupboards and the accumulated detritus of family life."

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780393330977
ISBN-10: 0393330974
Format: Paperback
(211mm x 140mm x 20mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Publish Date: 6-May-2008
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - A Curious Earth by Gerard Woodward

Book Reviews - A Curious Earth by Gerard Woodward

US Kirkus Review » Lonely old English widower makes various attempts to get a life. Aldous Jones, pushing 70, lives alone in a largish house in North London. We have met his family before, in I'll Go To Bed At Noon (2004), a Man Booker finalist, where the focus was on his wife, Colette, and son, Janus, a raging alcoholic. Now, in the Thatcherite 1980s, Colette and Janus are dead, and two other sons live overseas; only his daughter Juliette still resides in London. Aldous, a retired high-school art teacher, is a borderline alcoholic himself. Juliette scolds him for his frequent nips of whisky and points out helpfully that he smells bad. It is she who finds him unconscious after his first fall. A brief hospital stay and a visit with his son Julian in Ostend, Belgium, revive his spirits. The high point is a bohemian party where he nuzzles an exotic black female artist. A trip to Amsterdam is ruined, though, when the woman turns up with her hitherto unmentioned husband. Back in London, another romantic possibility looms when Aldous meets middle-aged Maria in a class on Flemish for Beginners. True, she's an airhead and a philistine, but Aldous seems to be making progress until she stands him up. Woodward stacks the deck against poor Aldous, making him an uninteresting victim. There's another dash of the exotic when his other son, James, an anthropologist, descends on him, with his Amazonian Indian wife and child in tow; but after their departure, Aldous is still the same lonely imbiber. He pursues Maria into the workplace, joining her as a volunteer at a school for blind kids, but this leads to disaster as he blurts out a marriage proposal (yes, he's been drinking), has another fall and is fired. His final project, converting part of his house into an art gallery, offers some black comedy which doesn't quite work. A low-key, dreary portrait of old age. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Gerard Woodward

Gerard Woodward is the author of the Booker Prize finalist I'll Go to Bed at Noon and A Curious Earth. He was born in London in 1961, and published several prize-winning collections of poetry before turning to fiction. He is a professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and lives in Bath, England.

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