Alphabet In Thatcher s Britain barely out of his teens highly intelligent but illiterate and with a childhood of care homes and fostering behind him Simon Austen is sent down for life for murdering his girl

In Thatcher s Britain, barely out of his teens, highly intelligent but illiterate and with a childhood of care homes and fostering behind him, Simon Austen is sent down for life for murdering his girlfriend He did it but he doesn t know why or maybe doesn t want to know why Or both Then Simon makes an important decision to rehabilitate himself on his own terms He lIn Thatcher s Britain, barely out of his teens, highly intelligent but illiterate and with a childhood of care homes and fostering behind him, Simon Austen is sent down for life for murdering his girlfriend He did it but he doesn t know why or maybe doesn t want to know why Or both Then Simon makes an important decision to rehabilitate himself on his own terms He learns to read and write then, daringly, from his high security prison, begins an illicit correspondence with members of the opposite sex Language suddenly takes on a new significance and the world opens up But what kind of relationships are possible for a man who has committed an appalling crime As Simon puts it What will she be like And who will I become Through Simon s journey into himself, his search for answers, sometimes perilous and always unpredictable, we are forced to explore both our understanding of identity and our ambivalent attitudes to crime, justice and the possibility of redemption.

  • ☆ Alphabet Ð Kathy Page
    266 Kathy Page

About Author

  1. She has her BA from York England and her MA in writing from the University of East Anglia A novelist and widely anthologised short story writer, she has also written for television and radio Her themes are loss, survival, and transformation the magic by which a bad hand becomes a good chance Her fifth novel, The Story of My Face, was long listed for the Orange Prize in 2002, and is optioned for a feature film The sixth, Alphabet, was nominated for a Governor General s award in 2005 Her latest title, The Find, 2010, is her first novel set in Canada a story about discovery, inheritance and fate, and a moving exploration of the possibilities that hide within a seemingly impossible relationship.Kathy Page has taught fiction writing at Universities in England, Finland and Estonia, and held residencies in schools and a variety of other institutions communities, including a fishing village and a men s prison.She now lives in British Columbia, Canada.


Alphabet Comment

  1. Nominated for a Governor General s award in 2005Alphabet is the story about a man named Simon Austen who serves a life sentence in a high security prison for strangling his girlfriend The prison is in Britain.Learning to read and write is his first step towards rehabilitation He begins, illicitly, to correspond with a series of women on the outside.Painfully, slowly, the protagonist s personality undergoes a change.He wonders what kind of relationship is possible for a man like me Accept the fac [...]

  2. The first words that came to mind when I finished this marvel of a novel were from an Oscar Wilde sonnet Yet each man kills the thing he loves, By each let this be heard Some do it with a bitter look, Some with a flattering word, The coward does it with a kiss The brave man with a sword Alphabet is a book about a prisoner named Simon Austen imprisoned in the British penal system and also imprisoned in his inability to achieve redemption for a heinous crime and it s also about the power of words. [...]

  3. A wonderful psychological drama In mate Simon is terrifyingly pleasant some of the time, the rest he s just terrifying He admits he commited the crime and he s trying so hard to find redemption but he, and those trying to help him, are struggling to get into his mind I was blown away by this book and when I learnt that author Kathy Page was a writer in residence in a men s prison it wasn t a surprise Her attention to detail is brilliant, the picture she draws of prison life in the 80s in Britain [...]

  4. This book is oddly compelling I kept wanting to find out what was going to happen, so I kept reading, despite the fact that the protagonist is a rather unlikable person He s serving a life sentence for murdering his girlfriend Strangely, he becomes a much sympathetic character as the book progresses One of the strongest suits of the author s writing is her ability to write in third person in a way that makes it seem like it s first person She really lets us into the main character s headd it s [...]

  5. Difficult topic approached in such a manner that you couldn t put it down Not necessarily a book to enjoy as much as admire Thought provoking on the value of skill training for inmates, and on the need for forgiveness in order to move on for both victim and perpetrator.

  6. Very different Very raw, not for the easily offended A fascinating look at an angry but likable man s British jail time.

  7. Lu en fran ais et d couvert par hasard lors d une de mes balades en biblioth que Le sujet m a attir e tout de suite un prisonnier condamn vie suit un programme exp rimental de r habilitation L approche d licate du sujet et la personnalit particuli re du personnage principal, fascin par les lettres de l alphabet, ont fini de m accrocher J ai crit l auteure pour lui faire part de la r flexion que son histoire avait suscit chez moi ne sommes nous pas tous prisonnier de quelque chose N avons nous pa [...]

  8. Spanning thirteen years, the fictional story of Simon Austen, an inmate incarcerated for murdering his girlfriend, Amanda Brooks, in 1979 The novel explores layers of the psychology of male inmates, their struggles with female relationships, childhood circumstances which led some of the young men to violence, their desire or lack thereof to examine their behaviors, attitudes, and to make change in their lives Simon borrows library books while in prison and begins to define words and life with le [...]

  9. This is a brave book Its protagonist is Simon, who is serving a life sentence for murdering his girlfriend During his sentence, he learns to read and write As an intelligent and manipulative man, he sees the opportunities this brings to him not only does he now have a saleable skill, but he begins writing to women outside the prison.He also begins a course of therapy Reading and writing have given him the power to look beyond the confined world in which he finds himself But Simon will have to ma [...]

  10. Bill in Halifax told me about this I ll give this 5 as it convinced my totally, and was a great experience on the way.The central character is in the nick for good reasons for a very long time and Page builds a picture of him and his inner self that seems compellingly accurate The reviews from authoritative critics seem to confirm this, and she does it in a way that also creates a page turner Forget all those televisations of UK prison life this seems to be the real deal But then she spent a yea [...]

  11. This was not like a book I normally read Much less pleasant and real world y I wonder how realistic of a depiction of life in prison in the late 80s 90s in Britain this is I m sure prison is not fun either way Don t think I would read it again but I did need to finish it to find out what happened view spoiler Of course, then it sort of just ended I mean, there was character development and all that, A LOT of character development, but he still ended up still on his prison sentence I was hoping m [...]

  12. Admission I judged this book by its cover I was immediately drawn to the thick heavy paper with the obsessively typed letters, layers and layers and layers of them I m expecting a similarly stratified character in Simon I liked this, but I need to know so much about Simon A detailed history would have been a good addition to the study of what makes Simon, Simon Also, I know that this study could have gone on without end, seemingly like his life sentence, but the abrupt ending left me needing [...]

  13. This story shows the difference between a society that looks after its vulnerable and one that allows cracks to appear in the fabric of society.Simon a lifer has ad a very sad life.A single incapable mother who deserts him and a child welfare system that abandons him to the many cracks.His illiteracy alienates him on many levels and he is basically unable to even have a conversation with himself.He commits murder and becomes a lifer but a decision to learn to read opens up new worlds and ideas a [...]

  14. Surprising and cleanly written, this book taught me a lot about how to create empathy for any character I ve never loved a book so much that was so far outside my normal reading wheelhouse and I credit all of that to Page s writing mastery Well worth a read whether you loved Orange is the New Black but were looking for something deeper about prison or if you don t give a whit about prison lit It s that good.

  15. A phenomenal first third of the book, but the quality eventually wanes around the midpoint of the book, as the author moves away from focusing on the improvement of a murderer into an investigation of alternative treatments for criminals Towards the end of the third part of the book, there s a return to a character rehabilitation driven focus, but by that point I had largely lost interest in the book.

  16. It did take me a little while to get through this book I was on a reading binge and I think I wore myself out But halfway in I really started to feel for the main character, even though he murdered his girlfriend for no reason whatsoever Good job Kathy Page It was a very interesting look at prisons and prison life and what goes on in reforming and reshaping the criminals so the can enter the world again and not end up back in prison.

  17. Sophisticated psychological story of a man trapped by his need to control women and his growth during his incarceration I found the structure and pacing of the novel to be spot on Tone and mood were so appropriately executed that it was easy to like this unlikable protagonist The setting and characters all feel authentic, flawed, vulnerable, and proud.

  18. Interesting idea Following a prisoner as he learns to write and then writes his way through his sentence, coming to understand and about himself and the motivations behind his crime Thrilling, emotionally engaging and interesting It seems Page made good use of her time as Writer in Residence at a prison.

  19. The 505 Vine book club chose this because we wanted to read something that would make us uncomfortable It explores the question, Are education and therapy sufficient to rehabilitate a confessed murderer how much can a person really change I enjoyed seeing what Simon did on his own in addition to, and sometimes in contrast to, his formal therapy.

  20. A young man is sentenced to life in prison in England and, in the guise of therapy , he learns to read, and starts writing letters to women on the outside.Of course, our sympathies end up with Simon, despite what he s done Page does a good job of developing him as evil and sympathetic at the same time.I m pretty sure this book was nominated for the GGs.

  21. A beautifully written, excruciating read My mind wanting to stop reading than once, but my eyes and hands wouldn t let me Simon and his alphabet will be stuck in my brain forever, whether I like it or not.

  22. Good read, honest and brutal at timesa good commentary on the penal system, and does rehabilitation really work for sex offenders

  23. Story of convicted murder his experiences of prison, and of how, by learning to read and write, he opens himself up to an entire world of understanding and communication.

  24. Interesting subject, very well written and researched Thoroughly enjoyed it.ybe because it made me review my opinions prejudices Books that can do that are, in my opinion, invaluable.

  25. A fabulous book for its voice, plot and setting Page does an incredible job of getting into the head of a troubled young man One of my favourite ever books Powerful and moving.

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