Blimey o reilly, The Queen s Gambit was an absolutely stonking good novel the best I ve read in ages Why hasn t anyone ever told me to read Walter Tevis before He s an utterly fantabulous writer Set in 1950s 60s America, Beth Harmon is an orphaned chess prodigy who rises up through the ranks to become the American No.1 and heads across the Iron Curtain to take on the World Champion the intimidating Russian Borgov The story is a bildungsroman but also about genius and addiction In the orphanage Beth becomes addicted to tranquillisers, then later on discovers alcohol and uses both to get her through the increasingly challenging tournaments Which only adds to the fascinating nature of Beth s character rare, incomprehensible talent coupled with a very relatable human frailty Tevis shows us his idea of how a chess prodigy might operate partly through mental visualisation, partly through an unspoken instinct manifesting without clear articulation which is convincing if probably not wholly accurate I ve played chess but I m by no means a chess player I wouldn t even call myself an amateur, I m that unskilled and yet I found it riveting to read a book filled with chess matches The matches are genuinely tense and thrilling to read even without understanding the moves as they re being described that s how accessible and interesting Tevis makes chess He really was an enormously gifted writer.Beth s relationships were all awkward but touching in their way From learning chess from the orphanage s janitor Mr Shaibel, to her cheerful but fragile foster mom Mrs Wheatley, to her first couple of boyfriends, and her best friend Jolene they were all compelling, though ultimately we see Beth as she always felt isolated and alone Partly through her intellect, partly through unfortunate circumstances, though it makes her subsequent addictions understandable Tevis prose is mesmerising and the pages flew by It s such a smooth and effortlessly gripping read I ve read thrillers that were less exciting than this novel about CHESS of all things There really isn t a single thing I can think of to critique in the slightest I loved The Queen s Gambit totally and obviously I m recommending it to everyone and now I m off to check out all of Tevis other novels that I ve been missing I m a tad biased rating this In my youth, I was a chess junkie The rise of Bobby Fischer coincided with my early adolescence Thus I understand some of the technical stuff in this book and I can appreciate descriptions of well turned wooden chess men But putting nostalgia aside, I wonder if slabs of the narrative would be inaccessible to non chess players The book was written in the early 1980s The writing style might have been cutting edge then but things have moved on in 35 years Ditto the storyline, which held few surprises for me I didn t hate the book but I wouldn t recommend it to non chess players. I love this book It s feeling really challenging to try to start my next any book because I doubt I ll enjoy it as much as I liked this one I have added this one to my favorites shelf.I m so grateful that my book club agreed to read this for our March book For me it was the perfect book at the perfect time In fact, some of my book club members were having a hard time getting a copy, so I quickly finished the last couple of chapters so that they could read my library copy before its due date That was easy to do This book was easy to pick up and hard to put down My preference when reading books is to stop reading at the end of chapters or at least at the end of mid chapter marked breaks, but with this book I was happy to read until I had to put the book down to do something else Finishing a sentence was enough for me I didn t want to stop reading until I absolutely had to stop Beth Harmon is an amazing and memorable character I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her life and reading this amazing coming of age story I loved both the character and the story The secondary characters are also very well drawn out, to just the right amount, in my opinion, and they all also contribute to making this story great I don t even play chess and there is so much in this story that is play by play during chess games, and I had no idea what was going on with the relaying of chess pieces moving on the board or what they meant, yet the descriptions completely held my attention I was riveted I was hooked for start to finish I think if I knew the game of chess I might have gotten even out of the story, though I have no complaints reading it not knowing the game I was afraid I wouldn t enjoy reading about Beth as much when she aged age 8 to age 19 but I found her always interesting In fact, even though the book ended in a satisfying way, I d read a sequel if there was one Unfortunately, this book was published in 1983, the author s seventh book, and he died in 1984, so this is his last book The book is a really fast read it has 243 pages and 14 chapters, some long The story took a few unexpected turns in the last couple of chapters I appreciated the twists in the storyline.This is a story about a girl who s a chess prodigy but if I had a thrillers shelf I d use it for this book It did read like a thriller, especially parts in the middle and the end I wouldn t say that the language is gorgeous, and it s not a particularly quotable book, but I think that it s beautifully written The characters, particularly the main character, are completely believable It s a brilliantly constructed book Though it isn t a long book and the events take place over only 11 years, it felt like an epic to me I ve always wanted to learn to play chess, though I think the fun would be playing at an advanced level At this point I doubt I could learn to play past a beginner level, and I certainly don t have the aptitude to play the way the best chess players can play It seems as though it would be a thrill to be able to play at a top level I got a bit of vicarious satisfaction from watching Beth play the game This book made me even curious and interested in the game If I had read this as a teen or young adult I ll bet I d have made an effort to learn and play chess games Highly recommended Particularly recommended for those who enjoy coming of age stories, orphan stories, those have an interest in chess, physical fitness, addiction, mentoring, and feminism. I so adore this book.The twin passions of games order, clarity, focus, beauty, creativity, competition, transcendence and addiction chaos, release, abdication, destruction, waste Loneliness and alienation Redemption Tevis works these themes in all his books The Hustler most similarly , The Man Who Fell to Earth most wrenchingly.But I think Queen s Gambit is his best The writing is pure and invisible The tension, excitement, and suspense brought out by the chess matches is unreal, and a master course to anyone looking to generate excitement in fiction I ve read the book a dozen times and my pulse still races during the tournament scenes The characters are lovely and heartbreaking While not a stylist like Salinger or Nabokov or Kundera, and not as universal or varied as Atwood or Irving, Tevis succeeds perfectly in all his ambitions Perhaps than any author I can think of, Tevis revealed his joys, fears, and inner landscape He died in 1984, two years before I started entering pool tournaments I wish I had met him. Greatness is this book.Tevis upset my understanding of writing and literature with The Man Who Fell to Earth, and he did it again with this book The prose is incredible in its transparency, while Tevis s storytelling is so straightforward as to be mind boggling There are no tricks, no boon doggles, no fast ones, and no gimmicks the story unfolds the way the story needs to unfold, and all of it makes for great reading And protagonist Beth Harmon I will never forget her, and I will always hope that, after the end of this story, she had a good and happy life I read this again as the lead book in a seminar that I am holding with a clutch of senior high school students They loved the book, which overjoys me, because that might mean that Tevis has seven new adherents, who in turn can spread the word of his prose further Yes this book is gospel to me I, myself, fell for the book once again while shining to scenes and details that had since faded from memory This book moves me so fully it makes me glad to be alive and glad to be reading. I read somewhere that this is one of Lawrence Block s favourite stories Well, if it s good enough for LBI d enjoyed chess as a child and recall the hype and excitement surrounding the world championship match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, in the 70 s This book captures the excitement chess can evoke trust me and you don t even have to have played the game to enjoy it.The story of an eight year old orphan who transforms her life through chess is brilliantly told I was sad when I finished it Makes me want to grab a chess set and set up the pieces Anyone fancy a game Come molti altri lettori, di cui ho scorso le recensioni, degli scacchi conosco solo le regole generali In teoria, quindi, potrei anche giocare una partita, ma probabilmente la perderei nel giro di un minuto al massimo Ci nonostante, questo romanzo, che pure ha frequentissime descrizioni di agguerriti confronti tra giocatori esperti, mi ha veramente tenuta avvinta dall inizio alla fine.Il fatto che Tevis ha creato qui con Elizabeth Harmon un altro personaggio affascinante, al pari dell alieno de L uomo che cadde sulla terra E aliena in un certo senso anche la stessa Elizabeth Harmon, incapace di creare stabili relazioni e rapporti con i suoi simili, dipendente da pastiglie calmanti prima e dall alcool poi, con un unica grande ossessione gli scacchi Come del resto, un po alieno stato lo stesso Tevis, che ha sofferto a lungo di depressione, nonch della schiavit degli alcoolici Il suo stile asciuttissimo, del tutto privo di fronzoli, di abbellimenti o di situazioni accessorie che amplino il contorno e offrano uno sfondo pi vivido No, lui no Lui marcia dritto sparato come un treno nella direzione che ha deciso di imprimere alla storia, senza guardare in faccia nessuno Eppure quasi non si riesce a staccare gli occhi dalle pagine, nonostante non accadano moltissimi fatti.Il finale pi ottimista rispetto alla struggente malinconia di quello de L uomo che cadde sulla terra Ma altrettanto bello, direi. Eight Year Old Orphan Beth Harmon Is Quiet, Sullen, And By All Appearances Unremarkable That Is Until She Plays Her First Game Of Chess Her Senses Grow Sharper, Her Thinking Clearer, And For The First Time In Her Life She Feels Herself Fully In Control By The Age Of Sixteen, She S Competing For The US Open Championship But As She Hones Her Skills On The Professional Circuit, The Stakes Get Higher, Her Isolation Grows Frightening, And The Thought Of Escape Becomes All The Tempting Engaging And Fast Paced, The Queen S Gambit Speeds To A Conclusion As Elegant And Satisfying As A Mate In Four Beth is an orphan and only 8 yrs old when we meet her She is quiet and clever and soon discovers she has a talent for chess when she is introduced to the game by the janitor The story follows Beth with her dream of playing chess at the top level, her struggle with alcohol and tranquilisers.There were some very good characters in this story, all with their own problems, their good and bad sides I enjoyed Beth s strong character and loved her matter of fact attitude I give this 4.5 stars as although the ending seemed fitting I really wanted to find out how Beth s life turned out.
Walter Stone Tevis was an American novelist and short story writer Three of his six novels were adapted into major films The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth His books have been translated into at least 18 languages.
- 243 pages
- The Queen's Gambit
- Walter Tevis
- 02 September 2019 Walter Tevis