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On Beauty
On Beauty
Author: Zadie Smith
Set on both sides of the Atlantic, Zadie Smith's third novel is a brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed. — Just outside of Boston, in the small college town of Wellington, liv...  more »
PBS Market Price: $12.79 or $8.89+1 credit
ISBN-13: 9780143037743
ISBN-10: 0143037749
Publication Date: 8/29/2006
Pages: 464
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.

3.3 stars, based on 189 ratings
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed On Beauty on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Hands down ,the best book I read all year. Really, this book captures what it is to be human, and how it is that we interact with other people. Oh man, so damn good. READ IT!!!
therubycanary avatar reviewed On Beauty on + 44 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Although not as humourous as White Teeth, I found this to be an interesting look at a period of life of two intertwined families. It is quite lengthy, but I read it in a few evenings. It's one of those books that is truthful enough to make you squirm in your seats as you watch the characters get caught in their mistakes and make amends.
Jenny28 avatar reviewed On Beauty on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This book was an intense, all-nighter read. Alternately had me squirming in dismay for the hapless characters and giggling at their foibles, while thinking seriously about the issues raised. You can skim along and enjoy or dig deeper. Great, great read.
reviewed On Beauty on + 42 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
A story of a family in a small college town near Boston, this book has engaging characters and addresses so many themes: love and marriage, infidelity, strong friendships, race, family struggles...all wrapped in the context of a college town where everyone knows everyone else. I thoroughly enjoyed this book--much more than I expected.
Judyh avatar reviewed On Beauty on + 227 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is a wonderful and unusual story about family, academia, love, race, and generations. It's one of the best books I read in 2008! It gave an interesting view of both a bi-racial family and working in academia.
Read All 34 Book Reviews of "On Beauty"

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larissajohnson17 avatar reviewed On Beauty on
I really enjoyed this made me laugh outloud and it had some very interesting twists.
allietx avatar reviewed On Beauty on + 15 more book reviews
My book club read this book. At times I really enjoyed it, and at other times I thought it was just so/so. I really loved the central female character but found the central male character pretty unsympathetic. We had some great discussion at the meeting.
wantonvolunteer avatar reviewed On Beauty on + 84 more book reviews
On Beauty is a story about the failure of a family, and about beauty and intellectual pride. Howard Belsey is a 56 year old caucasian Brit; he used his intellect to escape a blue collar childhood via a career in academia. Wife Kiki is African American from Florida; she is a nurse, not an intellectual, although she is profound and smart. The three Belsey children, Jerome Zora and Levi, vary in their degrees of intellectuality. This book kind of rams intellectivity in the reader's face a lot.

Prof. Howard Belsey is engaged in a trans-Atlantic academic war with Prof. Monty Kipps in England. Then the Kipps family moves to America, to the same Massachusetts neighborhood and college as the Belseys. With the exception of Mrs. Kipps, everybody in this book demonstrates a lot of ugliness. I get that this is satirical, but I found it a bit of a slog.
reviewed On Beauty on + 5 more book reviews
I became hooked on Zadie Smith with her first book, 'White Teeth'.
None of her subsequent books has bowled me over, but this one does have some evidence of her amazing ability to bring to life rich, vibrant characters. It is an enjoyable read, and one that does make you reflect upon life, love and how things are never as they seem to appear.
reviewed On Beauty on + 17 more book reviews
A writer to watch! Very interesting account of 2 academic families; very realistic portrayal, particularly of the younger members thoughts and plans.
reviewed On Beauty on + 4 more book reviews
This book by author Zadie Smith is listed in "1001 Books to Read Before You Die".
reviewed On Beauty on
Very well written.
reviewed On Beauty on + 16 more book reviews
This was a good read, it wasn't something I would traditionally pick out, but I read it for my book club and enjoyed it.
reviewed On Beauty on + 25 more book reviews
Rich, involving book. Great for long rides and walks.
reviewed On Beauty on + 51 more book reviews
It took me a while to catch on to the rhythm of this author's narrative. She speaks with so many voices, and so eloquently. I found myself changing loyalties to the characters, withdrawing sympathy only to give it to another. This book is true and honest and beautiful... and offers many samples of what beauty is and can be. It bears a second read!

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