• Title: Poppy Shakespeare
  • Author: Clare Allan
  • ISBN: 9780385662147
  • Page: 302
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Poppy Shakespeare Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Prize Poppy Shakespeare is wholly unique both an insider s look at the madness of the mental health system and an outsider s discovery of the power of an unlike
    Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Prize Poppy Shakespeare is wholly unique both an insider s look at the madness of the mental health system and an outsider s discovery of the power of an unlikely friendship, it signals the arrival of an extraordinary new voice on the international literary scene Who is mad Who is sane Who decides Welcome to the Dorothy Fish,Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Prize Poppy Shakespeare is wholly unique both an insider s look at the madness of the mental health system and an outsider s discovery of the power of an unlikely friendship, it signals the arrival of an extraordinary new voice on the international literary scene Who is mad Who is sane Who decides Welcome to the Dorothy Fish, a day hospital in North London N has been a patient here for thirteen years Day after day she sits smoking in the common room, swapping medication and comparing MAD money rates Like all the patients at the Dorothy Fish, N s chief ambition is never to get discharged Each year, when her annual assessment comes round, she is relieved to learn that she hasn t got any better Then in walks Poppy Shakespeare in her six inch skirt and twelve inch heels She is certain she isn t mentally ill and desperate to return to her life outside Though baffled by Poppy s attitude, N agrees to help Together they plot to gain Poppy s freedom But in a world where everything s upside down, are they crazy enough to upset the system Funny, brilliant, and moving, Poppy Shakespeare looks at madness from the inside, questioning our mental health system and the borders we place between sanity and insanity Written in high voltage prose, original and troubling, it is a stunning debut Excerpt from Poppy Shakespeare It s not that I ve got a problem with mental illness, Poppy said It s just there s nothing the matter with me Do you know what I m saying I wouldn t worry bout that, I said They must think you s mad or you wouldn t be here Candid Headphones don t reckon she s mad Never stopped her, I said Poppy I said, cause I got to say it Be like watching a blind man walk under a bus You know what you said bout not thinking you s mad Yes, she said, like what of it Well I wouldn t say nothing to them about that, I told her Not at the moment I mean, don t get me wrong, I ain t saying nothing It s just the doctors, you never know They might decide to pick up on it I mean, it s up to you, do you know what I m saying, but maybe if you stick to your other symptoms.

    One Reply to “Poppy Shakespeare”

    1. Who is mad? Who is sane? Who decides? Welcome to the Dorothy Fish, a day hospital in North London! N has been a patient here for thirteen years. Day after day she sits smoking in the common room, swapping medication and comparing mad money rates. Like all the patients at the Dorothy Fish, N's chief ambition is never to get discharged. Each year when her annual assessment comes round, she is relieved to learn that she hasn't got any better. Then in walks Poppy Shakespeare in her six-inch skirt an [...]

    2. This book has a really interesting look into the mental health system, a notoriously underfunded and misunderstood sector of health care. N has been a part of the system since she was little, which she states is destiny, because all of her family before her was ill as well. One day she is selected to guide a new patient, Poppy, who believes there is nothing wrong with her mentally. As the book progresses, N gives a very honest look into how mental health is so poorly understood and how the syste [...]

    3. It took me a while to get into this book, but I'm glad I stayed with it. The first person dialect is distracting at first, but I really felt like I got to know the main character 'N' through her unique perspective. I've read several books recently where character point of view affects the outcome and you question the honesty of their narrative, but here there is no question of how genuine N's storytelling is; even if she has a warped view of events, it is clear that she believes everything she s [...]

    4. In the unusual position of preferring the tv adaptation of this, which I really enjoyed, rather than the book. Not sure I would have continued with it if I hadn't watched the dramatisation and known where it was going.It's a great idea, a satirical look at the mental health system where the world is divided into 'dribblers' and 'sniffs',from the viewpoint of N, who was a 'dribbler' before she was born. Poppy Shakespeare is thrown into the system when she fails a personality test and has to prove [...]

    5. The first two chapters contained a lot of swearing without really adding any character to the book - it was like she did it to prove she could. However after this the swearing died down (was still there but added to the character). I nearly gave it a three, except for the ending which was very disappointing - not so much the actual events in the end but that it just eneded.Its narrated by N and takes place in a day pyshiatric clinic. N comes from a long line of family members having mental healt [...]

    6. Frank, amusing and dark, I thought this book was a good read for anyone interested in mental health. I found the writing style very frustrating at first, as it's not often you read a book written in anything but eloquent prose. But once I got used to it I found that the style really made the book. It just wouldnt have been so frank and funny if it wasnt written the way that N thinks. It's hard to know where reality ends and where N's world begins, or whether she is even ill at all. Working in me [...]

    7. I'm giving this book four stars in my opinion (I thought about giving it 5!) but its not for everyone. Its a particular sort of portrayal of life within and around a mental health unit in the UK, written from the point of view of one of the day patients. You know how sometimes you read a first hand accout (like A Million Little Pieces) and wonder how on earth the person could have written this? Well this is a book which will NOT leave you asking that! Its a fantastic read but you've have to be w [...]

    8. A Satire in which a sane person is deemed mentally ill,then she has to prove she is crazy in order to get money to live on.The day centre is closed and the patients are left to their own devices.A hint of Kafka , sad and funny at the same time.Made it onto tv some years ago.

    9. This was a stunning work written wth a full heart. I was captivated instantly by N and Poppy. Weaved together with a clever wit and humour, I just couldn’t put it down. Behind all the funny stuff was a heartbreaking story that left me deeply touched. Wow! Clare Allen, when’s your next coming out???

    10. The quotes from reviews on the back cover of the book make a number of comparisons to Catch-22. These are well placed given the central thesis of the book — you can't get released from a psychiatric hospital unless you're sane but the lawyers who handle the appeals need proof that you're ill to claim the legal feesOne thing that, for me, detracted significantly from the book is that the narrative is written from the point of view of N, once of the patients, and is written in Norf Lunnon style. [...]

    11. The novel is a satire on the Blairite reforms of in-patient mental health, which forced hospitals to show they were producing good results (making the mad less mad against a benchmark of the non-admitted) in order to maintain funding and secure 'beacon' status (and so a degree of autonomy). To what lengths would put-upon but essentially idealistic doctors go to keep on offering care?The novel is not narrated, though, from a doctor's viewpoint but that of a patient, a woman in her early thirties [...]

    12. There really wasn't much in this novel that I could say I enjoyed.It's narrated by a day-patient of the Dorothy Fish, a mental institution in London. She writes in exactly the same way you'd imagine her to speak, and this took a lot of getting used to, particularly her constant use of the phrase "would of/could of" instead of the proper "would have/could have". This is blatant nit-picking, of course, since it's not Allan's language, but the narrator's. Still, I was really annoyed, and the voice [...]

    13. This is Claire Allen's first novel and was shortlisted for The Guardian First Book award . Subsequently it was made into a drama on Channel 4 (where else) ? It is an angry, funny and often frustrating polemic on the state of mental health services in the 1990"s. The narrator a woman called N is that for narrator or butter, guides Poppy, the new inmate and the reader through the various, often incomprehensible layers of the Abaddon ( Abandon) mental health facility in North London, although for s [...]

    14. An enjoyable send up of mental health institutions, bureaucracy generally, and government. The narrator, N, is a patient or "client" of a day mental health hospital -- she spends her days there, but lives in her own apartment. The story she tells is of a new patient named Poppy Shakespeare who arrives in the hospital insisting that nothing is wrong and that she's being unfairly forced into treatment. The narrative style is somewhat stream-of-consciousness (and a "mentally ill" consciousness at t [...]

    15. I found this book at e@curve and bought two. One for me and one for Shima Scarlett. As I expected, both of us love to book. If you are familiar with my choice of books, you might have already realized that 50% of the book I bought are those that I can relate with. so with this book, it is about being in a psychiatric ward and surrounded with people with various exceptional problems. If your really want to know what happens in this type of closed and guarded vicinity , you must not only read, GIR [...]

    16. Been listening to this audiobook whilst walking. Due to the frequent swearing, was unsuitable for in-car listening.Really don't know what to make of this book. Kept expecting a 'reveal' about the Dorothy Fish (the institution that the narrator, N, and the eponymous character attend), which never really came about. It was the 26 inmates, each having a name representing a letter of the alphabet that made me expect a plot twist. For instance, Poppy Shakespeare was admitted only when Pollyanna left. [...]

    17. I also found this book, which I'd never have heard of otherwise, through Nick Hornby's review of it in Shakespeare Wrote for Money. Thank you Nick Hornby! I loved Poppy Shakespeare; I'd expected to find it funny, but not laugh out loud funny (which it is--I embarrasssed myself a couple of times by giggling on the train). It's also incredibly smart and at times incredibly moving, and honestly like no other book I've ever read before. Part of that is the narrator's voice, which is a hilarious Nort [...]

    18. A brilliant book that pulls no punches in its biting assessment of Mental Health services in the UK. I did listen to much of this on audio though did also read parts. The benefit of audio was the flavour of N's London accent that was well executed by the reader. I even found myself falling back into London slang myself after a few days with it, you do know what I mean? :)I have great admiration for Clare Allan drawing on her own experiences as a 'service user' as well as continuing to write on m [...]

    19. This is an extraordinarily difficult book to review. The story is difficult to read because it is drowning in hopelessness. It is also told in first person narration by a mentally ill woman who has a strong North London accent. So not easy vocabulary to follow. But it is, according to reviewers, a sadly accurate depiction of the sorry state of mental health "care" in 1990s UK. In a nutshell, it explores how society determines whether or not a person might be "mad", To use British vernacular. I t [...]

    20. Written with acerbic wit and grim irony, Poppy Shakespeare satirises the current situations regarding the health system, mental health treatment and institutions. The dark humour of a patient being involuntarily committed after having taken a 'personality assessment', then having to prove she's mad to get legal help to try to prove she's sane, has elements of the absurd, and would be absurd - if it wasn't terribly close to how in reality government departments are running services these days. If [...]

    21. 2* 'cause. Do you know what I'm saying? On account ofHate giving bad reviews. Especially for a book on a subject matter so dear to me. However, found this one tough to get through because I could not stand the narrator's voice. Simple as that. I'm sure some will get on with it fine, I just couldn't. The constant repetition of annoying phrases made me resort to skim reading the final 200 pages. Dialogue is a mess in places. Quotes within quotes with 'cause and 'cept and plenty of other ' thrown i [...]

    22. It's been compared to a cross between Catch-22 and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. I'd add that it's Faulknerian and Kafkaesque. Not an easy read, and not flawless (it's not exactly what I'd call "action-packed," for instance), but a genuinely new take on the mental institution genre from the perspective of a lifer. N's voice is REAL. It's infiltrated my thoughts, and I keep finding myself saying, "Do you know what I am saying?" Poppy herself is not as compelling as I thought she would be, but [...]

    23. I picked this book up thinking that it would be a nice change from what I normally read. It was about a hospital for mentally ill patients and how one character fights to show how she is not sick in the head and should not be there. It was okay. It was also another book that I did not have to pick up and read, but was there. The writing style is broken up, as if it took on a patients brain skills. As the sentences are hard to follow at times and some are repetitive. Which was kinda good. However [...]

    24. I enjoyed it less as I continued reading- at first I thought "wow, what a neat take on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", but after a while the voice of the narrator started to wear me down, and began distracting me from the book itself. And this is probably due to the mental issues of the narrator, but parts of the book make no sense. Why was Poppy institutionalized in the first place? How did the narrator get released? I think if the book were shorter (and I love Russian Classics, so coming fro [...]

    25. Bloody brilliant. I actually listened to the audio version over the coure of a couple weeks (during my commute). I think it would have been exhausting to *read* read (a reviewer concurred: "There's a profusion of names, colloquialisms, and stream of thought sentences in this novel, and they leave you exhausted.") And, now that I have heard the story and have all the pictures in my head I would distrust a TV / film adaptation to get it right. (Although I did read a good review of the BBC TV adapt [...]

    26. Toen ik bekend maakte dat ik wou meedoen met de Verbeelding Book Challenge kreeg ik heel wat tips, waaronder dit boek. Ik sta open voor tips en aanraders van anderen maar heb nu nog maar eens gemerkt dat ik liever mijn eigen keuze lees. Dit boek lag mij niet. Ik vermoed dat de vertaling ook wel meespeelt en dat ik het beter in het Engels gelezen had. Het verhaal speelde natuurlijk ook een rol want er gebeurde helemaal niets Verschillende bladzijden vol tekst om tot niets te komen of toch niets b [...]

    27. an interesting look into what really makes someone worthy of being put in a mental hospital. i only found out after reading it that clare allan had been in a "day hospital" herself for 10 years, but that explains how she manages to so clearly convey what it's like. the characters are easy to picture and also unsettlingly easy to relate to (a little freaky to feel yourself relating to a "crazy person"). definitely makes a psych major start to diagnose herself while reading. note that it is britis [...]

    28. I didn't like it at first due to the writing style, the fact that it is not particularly 'pc' and that it was a little sterotypical, but it grew on me once I got over that. The writer seems to be making a point. I was hoping for a better ending. I wanted it to go on a bit longer to see what happened. Saying that, it was a page turner which is why I rated it as 'I really liked it'. I might have to pass it on to a mental health advocate to get their opinion!In the meantime, I will be watching the [...]

    29. This book tells the story of a woman in a psychiatric institute, in their opinion there is nowhere to go, they wouldn't like to get back in normal life. However one day Poppy arrives and she is the one who wants to get out of this institute. To be honest I really don't know what it's like to be in and how these people think but I can imagine the writer knows a lot about these people. The book hooked me and although I find it hard to go on with it, I finally succeed in it, never regret it though. [...]

    30. When I first started to read this, I hated it. I couldn't bare the way it was written. But as I read on I learned to really enjoy the writing style, like the main character was talking right at me. I can imagine anybody who's not from the UK reading this and getting a little confused as it does include slang language but it's amazing.The story is so clever, so hilarius and so realistic. The view of the mental health services is put perfectly, anyone who has experiences with it will enjoy it, as [...]

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