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Appetite is a novel with three main characters in difficulties their appetites. David, a 14 year old schoolboy is addicted sugar. Naomi, a 44 year old executive at a soft drinks manufacturer likes illicit sexual thrills. Matthew, a teacher, possibly in his mid 30s, fights boredom and alienation. All 3 struggle to form and assert their identities in a world which is increasingly homogenised for commercial and political ends. What makes ‘Appetite’ absorbing and worth the 450 pages is the author’s empathetic deftness in getting alongside the characters and helping the reader to see the world through the lenses they have acquired over their lives. We gradually discover what those lenses are and how they were acquired. The author avoids easy characterisations by short-cut devices such as lending the protagonists particular gestures, or phrases, but rather shows dynamically how feel, think and construct themselves through their relationships with themselves and others. The other characters are well drawn. We see the unhelpfulness of the stories the protagonists tell themselves about who they are in order to get through lives dominated by a sense of inadequacy, frustration and disappointment. We see and feel the blows that they take in the existential battlegrounds of school, employment and intimate relationships at the hands of others who are struggling with similar issues and in need of an ‘other’ to bully. The author’s clear, empathetic observation never drifts into sentimentality. The writing is of the excellent quality necessary to such an ambitious project. The language is designed to elucidate rather than impress: it is plain and clear with few obscure words or lengthy, complex sentences. The paragraphing is coherent. The structure, which weaves between the worlds of the characters, does so in a timely way, maintaining interest in the reader. ‘Appetite’ is a thoughtful take on the experience of people’s current capitulation or resistance to commercial and political homogenisation designed to encourage mass behaviour which is in the interests of the powerful, be those powers incumbent or emergent. The novel avoids preaching, but rather it shows how individuals struggle with appetites distorted into shapes which work against their own interests. ‘Appetite’ is not a novel for the reader seeking an escape into a different world, but rather an original take on a world occupied by the reader and the protagonists. It will be of interest to many who want a less sugary experience of a novel. It has heft and credibility. And it is a lively tale, contemporary and well told.
I regularly fall in love with novels; the worlds created, the characters conjured, even the myriad of tribulations that must befall our heroes and/or heroines. What I don't do very often is hate a character so vehemently that I have to *vent* about them to anyone who'll listen. And that was before I'd even finished the book...
Want to know what makes this even more surprising? The character I hate is not one of the three principals but a mere supporting player. (I won't ruin it for you, but needless to say I think you'll know who I'm referring to once you're finished.) This is indicative of the nuanced writing evidenced throughout the whole of Appetite, which I feel is most exemplified in Anita Cassidy's character development. I could not help but laugh and cry as the story deftly navigated the pitfalls experienced as we develop our character; whether this is the socially acceptable development of an adolescent or the taboo notion that a mature woman can realise she needs *more*
This is not the usual tale of boy meets girl, boy feeds girl at fancy restaurant, girl loves boy, boy marries girl. If that's want you want...stop, take this out of your basket and go buy something else. But, if you want to delve into the complex relationships between desire, need, rejection and redemption then it's time to turn on one-click ordering!
This was a great read on many levels: a most enjoyable novel with warm and compelling characters, and also a fascinating exploration of existential themes around craving (for soothing, for meaning, for excitement). I love the way the author made it clear how our inherent tendency to go for short-term pleasure is exacerbated by current cultural norms and social dynamics. You also come away with some pretty good ideas about how to live differently, although the author weaves them in with a light touch so it remains a page-turner throughout. I will definitely be continuing to read Anita Cassidy from now on.
Appetite is a fantastic story that take three people and the struggles they face in their day to day lives. Anita Cassidy weaves the three together very gently and builds these characters with a delicate and skilled hand that keeps you hooked as you turn the pages.
This is a good book. Carter is a voice from a part of England that we rarely hear from, the bit most of us live in, not rich, not poor, not inner city or rural, living a life in the mass branded modern world. This makes the book an authentic reflection of the types of dilemmas most of us face, are we eating too much, are we in the right relationship, is our job right for us. Without spoiling the plot these build into a compelling and complex story line with believable characters fighting to be themselves in a society that is less tolerant than it should be. The ending builds well and I found myself unable to put the book down for several hours as the climax joins the threads together.
Not often do I come across a book where I can relate to the protagonist (let alone all three!). The characters are as relatable as their struggle with relationships, food, sex and an inherent desire for change. Cleverly written, Anita takes the reader on a journey which at first feels like a voyeuristic insight into one's neighbour's home, a colleague's mind or a friend's soul, only to realise that we're staring at the mirror.
If only there were some honest reviews on this book. This book has just consumed my whole holiday. Vowing I had to finish it and trying to persevere I have finally ditched it at page 351. It is slow, non gripping garbage. I had such high hopes for it. I would go as far as saying it’s one of the worst books I’ve ever read.
Appetite is a wonderfully engaging novel from a talented writer. The book describes the challenges, desires, and ‘appetites’ of three seemingly unrelated characters at the outset. As the story unfolds, we discover the links between the characters and their struggle against their own unsatisfactory lives. The choices they make, whether positive or negative, allow them to break free of their mundane lives and feel connected to their real selves. It chronicles both the pleasant and the not so pleasant journey they undertake driven by their 'appetite' to be better, be different, be themselves.
This is an engaging and entertaining novel that doesn’t shy away from tackling tough issues.
The bad habits that the characters fall into are instantly relatable and on more than one occasion I recognised traps I have fallen into. The messages we are all used to hearing (and filtering out) about food and health seem more relevant when they are seen through the experiences of these characters.
In addition to the desires for food, sex and change mentioned on the cover, an overarching theme of the need to be needed shines through. David, Naomi and Matthew are all at their lowest when they feel alone and it is the need to change this that drives their biggest decisions.
The thing that sets this book apart is how well written the supporting characters are. There seems to be so much more to explore around the edges. I wanted to read more about David’s sisters, whose bullying sub-plot I found especially sad and moving, and Kerri’s own struggles with food could easily have elevated her to leading character status. However, most of all, James shines throughout the novel and lights up every scene he appears in.
I had not expected to enjoy a book about “issues” so much, but I constantly found myself wanting to read just one more chapter. I would strongly recommend it.