Annal: 2001 Orange Prize for Fiction

Results of the Orange Prize in the year 2001.

Book:The Idea of Perfection

The Idea of Perfection

Kate Grenville

A quirky, touching romance celebrating something even better than perfection.

Harley Savage is a plain woman, a part-time museum curator and quilting expert with three failed marriages and a heart condition. Douglas Cheeseman is a shy, gawky engineer with jug-handle ears, one marriage gone sour, and a crippling lack of physical courage. They meet in the little Australian town of Karakarook, where Harley has arrived to help the town build a heritage museum and Douglas to demolish the quaint old Bent Bridge. From the beginning they are on a collision course until the unexpected sets them both free.

Elegantly and compassionately told, The Idea of Perfection is reminiscent of the work of Carol Shields and Annie Proulx and reveals Kate Grenville as “a writer of extraordinary talent” (The New York Times Book Review).

Book:The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood takes the art of storytelling to new heights in a dazzling new novel that unfolds layer by astonishing layer and concludes in a brilliant and wonderfully satisfying twist.

For the past twenty-five years, Margaret Atwood has written works of striking originality and imagination. In The Blind Assassin, she stretches the limits of her accomplishments as never before, creating a novel that is entertaining and profoundly serious.

The novel opens with these simple, resonant words: “Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge.” They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister Laura’s death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura’s story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a- novel.…[more]

Book:Fred & Edie

Fred & Edie

Jill Dawson

In a dazzling act of literary license, the novelist and poet Jill Dawson has transformed the sensational true story of Britain”s infamous condemned adulteress into a dramatic novel of passion, murder, and scandal, as seductive as it is shocking. One night in London in 1922, a clerk named Percy Thompson is stabbed to death as he walks home from the theater. The spectacular case that follows captures the imagination of an entire nation, as Percy”s wife, Edith, and her young lover, Frederick Bywaters, are imprisoned, summarily tried, and hanged for murder, even as a petition to spare their lives receives more than one million signatures. Stylish, tantalizing, “with descriptions of the sex act from a woman”s viewpoint [that] are both lyrical and sublime” (Daily Mail), Fred & Edie is a hauntingly authentic portrait of a woman whose passio ultimately leads to her destruction. Reminiscent of both Lady Chatterley and Emma Bovary, Jill Dawson”s Edie falls into the category of the unforgettable.

Book:Homestead

Homestead

Rosina Lippi

High in the Austrian alps, ringed by the Three Sisters and the majestic Praying Hands, lies the tiny village of Rosenau, a scattering of dairy farms so isolated that the arrival of a postcard from the outside world is an event to set everyone talking. Against this simple backdrop, Rosina Lippi unfolds the grand passions that animate the human heart.

The novel opens in 1909 with Anna of Bengat homestead and her love for rough, beautiful Peter, her husband, and for their children, and for her dead sister’s boys, feeble-minded Stante and crippled Michel. As the years pass, the story unfolds through the eyes of the women of Anna’s family and the interconnected families of Bent Elbow homestead and the Wainwright’s clan: Bent Elbow’s Johanna, finding sudden, late love in the summer of 1916 with the Italian deserter Francesco; Isabella, Peter’s mother, who cannot bring herself to look at his ravaged face when he comes home from the Great War; Wainwright’s Katharina, half-sister…[more]

Book:Horse Heaven

Horse Heaven

Jane Smiley

Spanning two years on the circuit, from Kentucky and California to New York and Paris, Horse Heaven puts us among trainers and track brats, horse-obsessed girls, nervy jockeys, billionaire owners and restless wives. Here is the trainer of dazzling integrity and his opposite: a wicked prince of the tract, headed for still another swindle; here are the gamblers and hangers-on. And in an amazing feat of imagination, here are the magnificent Thoroughbreds themselves, from the filly orphaned at birth to the brown horse who always wins by a nose, a lovable “claimer” who passes from owner to owner on a heartwrenching journey down from the winner’s circle.

All the constant excitement of racing courses through a novel that opens up a fascinating world even as it moves us with its exploration of wanting, loving, and striving; of our mysterious bond with animals; and, above all, of our profound desire to connect—emotionally, sexually, spiritually—with each other.

Book:Hotel World

Hotel World

Ali Smith

Woooooooo-hooooooo.

Five people: four are living; three are strangers; two are sisters; one, a teenage hotel chambermaid, has fallen to her death in a dumbwaiter. But her spirit lingers in the world, straining to recall things she never knew. And one night all five women find themselves in the smooth plush environs of the Global Hotel, where the intersection of their very different fates make for this playful, defiant, and richly inventive novel.

Forget room service: this is a riotous elegy, a deadpan celebration of colliding worlds, and a spirited defense of love. Blending incisive wit with surprising compassion, Hotel World is a wonderfully invigorating, life-affirming book.

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