Subtitled THE PILLOW BOOK OF CORDELIA KENN this is a self portrait of a passionate girl who needs to write - in this case the story of her teenage years. It is the last novel in the loosely connected sequence of novels which began with BREAKTIME in 1978.
Subtitled THE PILLOW BOOK OF CORDELIA KENN this is the story of Cordelia from the time she is 15 until she is 20. She is pregnant and plans to give this account to her daughter on her 16th birthday so that they can share their youth together. She chooses the old and famous Japanese book THE PILLOW BOOK by Sei Shonagon as a model in order to include all kinds of things she has already written as well as the episodes and thoughts she has now as she compiles her book.
She tells of her mother (who died when Cordelia was 5) of her father and her aunt Doris (who marry when she is 16), of her love for William Blacklin, the boy with whom she chooses to have her first sex - and with whom she falls deeply in love. She writes about Julie Martin her teacher who helps her spiritually, describes her love affair with an older married man and her terrifying sexual experience with an unbalanced young man who is obsessed with her. The book includes thoughts on being a women, on poetry, music, reading and writing, on being pregnant and finally of her marriage to William.
THIS IS ALL is an anthology, written in six 'books' of Cordelia`s adolescent life, by turns funny, poignant, sad, exciting,fascinating ironic and truthful about topics that parents often do not tell their children.It is a richly entertaining and challenging read.
“The finest teenage fiction profits from a many-sided narration that sounds immeasurably more - well, "adult" - than the whiny monologues we now hear in oversold novels about children and their lives. So a story such as Aidan Chamber's remarkable This Is All:The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn might never make a splash in today's grown-up marketplace. It simply shows us too many facets and angles, too many glimpses of other minds and other worlds”
Boyd Tonkin, Independent
“An ambitious read”
Kate Kellaway, Observer
“Serious and self-absorbed, Cordelia is the antidote to the ditzy heroines of a thousand pink covers but it is an addictive read, even at 800 pages. Anyone who questions the validity of specialist "teen" fiction should read it”
Dinah Hall, Sunday Telegraph
“A true novel, a work of art in which experimental narrative techniques embody and express the prolonged experiment in self-discovery - sexual, emotional and not least intellectual . . . the book is immense, in size, ambition, scope and reach. The torment, joy and intensity of sexual learning can rarely have been caught so vividly . . . every bit of Cordelia's long tempest-tossed journey is worth following with her . . . a huge and wonderful act of imaginative empathy, for which all 16 year olds have cause to be grateful, as does the art form of young fiction”
“As always, Chambers writes with the fierce intelligence and honesty which distinguishes his work. If more novels of adolescence had this quality and seriousness, we wouldn't risk losing those readers who feel patronised by teenage fiction”
Linda Newbery, TES Teacher
“. . . it is a rich and rewarding read, full of life's wisdoms, funny in places and acutely poignant”
“Deeply rewarding . . . richly stimulating”
“Its ambition, its complexity and its length demand a slow, close reading, but one which will be more than repaid by the power and depth of its insights”
“Captures in story form the confusion, the ordinariness, the excitement and the shape of everyday lives . . . Chambers has delivered another provocative, informed, stimulating and controversial book”
“Chambers is a searching, provocative, fiercely intelligent writer, and this new work is best described as a novel of adolescence likely to be enjoyed by adults as much as by discrimating teenagers”
Linda Newbery, Armadillo
“The novel's strength lies in the rich characterisation, the range of thoughts and feelings explored, and the beautiful use of language . . . This Is All touches thoughtfully on so many aspects of life”
“Depicts a girl's journey through late adolescence . . . a weighty book in more ways than one”
Sunday Business Post (Eire)
“A warm, poignant and sometimes funny novel . . . beautifully written and cleverly crafted . . . a very readable book whose ease belies its length and complexity”
Kate Agnew, Guardian