> Skip to content
  • Published: 3 April 2006
  • ISBN: 9780099472131
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $19.99

Is There Anything You Want?



Forster's latest novel is a characteristically compelling, clear-eyed, humane and heartbreaking novel about a taboo subject - and about what it feels like to be a survivor...

What do Mrs H., Rachel, Edwina, Ida, Sarah, Dot, Chrissie have in common? They’re all women, but they’re fat, thin, old, young, professional, incompetent – and appear as diverse as human nature can be. But they are all survivors. This compelling novel follows the ripples that go out into ordinary lives, women’s lives in particular, which have been scarred and changed by a shared experience, all connected by the same hospital clinic in a small Northern town. This is a novel about what it means to live in the shadow of disease and with its scars, whether mental and physical, looking back over one’s shoulder while trying to go forward. You can trip up or, if you’re careful, you might make it….At its heart is a strong, difficult but finally vulnerable, old woman. Mrs H. is generous and helpful to a (sometimes comical) fault, and lives alone with a secret that she tells no one but that finally explains everything. Her niece is a young doctor who can’t take the strain, and who wants something different from life. Alongside them are the other walking wounded, getting on with their lives: Ida, once beautiful and now hiding her scars under layers of fat; tiny Dot who is stronger than she seems; Edwina, a mother who lives vicariously through others, even her wild daughter, Rachel, who finds almost too late what it’s like to soar above the crowd; and not to mention the men in their lives. From the marvellous ambivalence of the title question, it leaves us with a whole lot more to consider about life and its infinite variety.

  • Published: 3 April 2006
  • ISBN: 9780099472131
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Margaret Forster

Born in Carlisle, Margaret Forster was the author of many successful and acclaimed novels, including Have the Men Had Enough?, Lady's Maid, Diary of an Ordinary Woman, IsThere Anything You Want?, Keeping the World Away, Over and The Unknown Bridesmaid. She also wrote bestselling memoirs – Hidden Lives, Precious Lives and, most recently, My Life in Houses – and biographies. She was married to writer and journalist Hunter Davies and lived in London and the Lake District. She died in February 2016, just before her last novel, How to Measure a Cow, was published.

Also by Margaret Forster

See all

Praise for Is There Anything You Want?

'Consistently readable'

Sunday Telegraph

'Forster excels at depicting ordinary lives.Beautifully controlled'

Independent on Sunday

'Forster's prose, is, as always, clear, robust and unpretentious'

Daily Telegraph

'Few authors share Margaret Forster's extraordinary ability to transform the ordinary day-to-day activities of unremarkable people into compelling fiction.With brilliant and exquisite sensitivity'

Daily Mail

'Accomplished...moving'

Times Literary Supplement

'Pristine writing'

Time Out

'Insightful and intelligent'

Woman & Home

'Written with insight, wit and tremendous style'

Spectator

'Wonderfully comic and touching'

Sunday Telegraph

'The kind of novel into which you plunge with satisfaction'

Sunday Times

'Forster's empathy and lack of sentimentality, as well as her quick ear and eye for the telling detail, command attention, while her skills as a storyteller ensure the reader's avid curiosity about what happens next'

Literary Review

'Interweaves a variety of thoroughly imagined life stories and predicaments with quiet, effective skill'

Mail on Sunday

'I have greater admiration for Margaret Forster than for most novelists. A very fine, continuously interesting, and often moving work, all the better because it is so firmly rooted in the ordinary world of everyday experience'

Scotsman

'Written with enormous sensitivity and compassion'

Red

Related titles