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Orange Prize

After reading Molly Fox’s Birthday, shortlisted for last year, I’m seeking out the candidates for this year’s Orange Prize, as well as the previous works of Deirdre Madden.

Rosie Alison The Very Thought of You
Barbara Kingsolver The Lacuna
Attica Locke Black Water Rising
Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall
Lorrie Moore A Gate at the Stairs
Monique Roffey The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

The latest odds from bookmakers William Hill have British author Hilary Mantel as even-money favorite with her tenth novel, Wolf Hall, which won the 2009 Man Booker Prize. I couldn’t get into the book. Other than Mantel and Kingsolver, I’m appalled that none of the other titles are available at the stores. The Very Thought of You sounds most intriguing to me. Has anyone read any of the books?

16 Responses

  1. I’ve not read any on the list but the Moore book as well as the Kingsolver have met with really mixed reviews. I’ve planned to read both but been a bit put off by some of the negative reviews I’ve read of late. I look forward to learning what you think of them if you do move forward with reading either of these.

    • It’s been years after The bean Tree that I read Barbara Kingsolver. Maybe it’s a calling? The only book I can hunt down is Black Water Rising, and it’s a thriller. Interesting. The Gate at the Stairs sounds like a good read as well.

  2. I didn’t realize Black Water Rising was on that list…Read it a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it!! I definitely need to read Kingsolver’s book.

    • Black Water Rising is a thriller—that was a bit surprising. I thought the Orange Prize is only focusing on literary fiction.

  3. I’ve read them all (with the exception of Wolf Hall and The Lacuna which I couldn’t finish)

    I’m afraid that none of them are amazing. I recommend looking at the long list for 2010 or the short list for another Orange year.

    From the long list this year you might enjoy The Rehearsal or Hearts and Minds. The Help was also a great read.

    • Wolf Hall is very clunky and I simply had to put it aside until its moment comes. I am going to follow your advice to take a look at the long list. The Help is still not available in paperback. The Rehearsal does sound good. I’ll check out Hearts and Minds. Thanks Jackie! 🙂

  4. I’ve been reading through the shortlist. I haven’t started Wolf Hall yet, and I’ve been struggling with The Lacuna. I didn’t much care for the story of A Gate at the Stairs, but the writing was solid. I adored Black Water Rising (if you like a literary mystery steeped in social history). I’m really enjoying The White Woman on the Green Bicycle and liked The Very Thought of You too. I might suggest reading last year’s shortlist, which Molly Fox’s Birthday was on. Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman was lovely.

    • Another endorsement for Black Water Rising. I finished Molly Fox’s Birthday and it’s been one of the best books I’ve read this year. 🙂

  5. I read “The Very Thought of You.” It was a good book – not sure if it’s “Orange” quality, but it definitely offered something different from other Orange nominees that I read in the past. Here is my review.

    On a side note, I am the creator of Orange July – where readers commit to reading at least one Orange Prize winner or nominee. We have a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OrangeJanuaryJuly) if you want more info or wish to participate. It’s a lot of fun!


    • Thank you so much for the link to the review. I still haven’t got a hold of The Very Thought of you. But it looks like the longlist is worth exploring as well.

  6. I just finished “The Very Thought of You” this afternoon. It was a good story, but it didn’t really reach me in the way I hoped it would. A mediocre read, to be honest – the writing was not special.

    On the other hand, “A Gate at the Stairs” was beautifully crafted. The plot was a bit much – there were so many themes that Moore tried to delve into incredibly deeply – but the description was breathtaking.

    • A different opinion is always welcoming. That allows me to shift my focus a bit to Black Water Rising, A Gate at the Stairs, and some of the longlisted titles, since The Very Thought of You is not yet available.

  7. I’m still hoping to finish Hilary Mantel’s novel before Wednesday’s annoouncement; I’ve read all of the others. I think I would have enjoyed Rosie Alison’s novel more if I hadn’t been expecting a novel with more complex crafting (like Kingsolver’s, for instance) but they are all solid novels in their own ways. My personal favourite was Monique Roffey’s The White Woman on the Green Bicycle but there are qualities to admire in each of the novels IMO.

  8. I’m really annoyed at Wolf Hall being on the finalist list. So many people have disliked it, and, let’s face it. the book is a subject that has been DONE over and over. Maybe I’m just getting old (57), but I wouldn’t touch Wolf Hall because it’s revisiting lots of works and films that were done in the 1960s. Let’s move on, please.

    • It’s a bit frustrating that I couldn’t get into a Booker Prize Winner. And seeing it on the final list for Orange Prize makes it even more disheartening—because I feel obliged to read it. I’m feeling better that many book bloggers don’t recommend it.

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