The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant

About the book

In a red brick mansion block off the Marylebone Road, Vivien, a sensitive, bookish girl grows up sealed off from both past and present by her timid refugee parents. Then one morning a glamorous uncle appears, dressed in a mohair suit, with a diamond watch on his wrist and a girl in a leopard-skin hat on his arm. Why is Uncle Sándor so violently unwelcome in her parents’ home? This is a novel about survival – both banal and heroic – and a young woman who discovers the complications, even betrayals, that inevitably accompany the fierce desire to live. Set against the backdrop of a London from the 1950s to the present day, The Clothes on Their Backs is a wise and tender novel about the clothes we choose to wear, the personalities we dress ourselves in, and about how they define us all.

Reviewed by King’s Somborne Reading Group:

An excellent read enjoyed by all. Vibrant, well-drawn characters. Strong themes of identity, survival, loyalty and family relationships. Also well written humorous incidents. Strongly recommended!

Star rating: ****

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4 thoughts on “The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant”

  1. Review by Ems Valley U3A Reading Group:
    This is a well written and well observed book, a series of events which linked up to historical events and made the characters who they were – not particularly likeable but one had to keep reading to the end.
    Star rating: **


  2. Review by Itchen Reading Group
    The whole group enjoyed this book. The characters are totally believable, the descriptions of London during the seventies are very evocative of the period. The connection between what we wear and what we are is drawn in a way not encountered before. A first rate book for reading groups and well worth reading more than once.
    Star rating: ****


  3. Review by Bishops Courtiers
    The title does not match the content.
    Topic was interesting but the storytelling was not well done.
    Too many names and the ends not tied up. Not always clear who was talking or thinking as all in the first person.
    Not an awful read but it doesn’t grab you.
    Star rating: *


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