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Breakfast Monday, 2 June, 2003, 06:19 GMT 07:19 UK
Alice Sebold
Alice Sebold's new book Lovely Bones
The book became a best seller by word of mouth
Author Alice Sebold has seen huge success for her first book The Lovely Bones, which is published at the same time as her memoirs Lucky.

'The Lovely Bones' is one of those books that, if the publishers had seen a description of it before reading the manuscript, might never have got a second look.

It's narrated from heaven by 14 year old Susie Salmon. She was raped and killed by a neighbour and the book follows the family as they try to overcome their grief.

  • Alice Sebold was live on Breakfast

    Published in the US ten months ago it's sold 2.5 million copies in hardback, been reprinted 20 times and is the most successful debut novel since Gone with the Wind.

    One review said: "this is that rare thing, a novel that takes the stuff of terrible tragedy and manages to transform it into something hopeful and redemptive.

    "This book will stay with you long after you finish the last page."

    Critics in the states raved about the book, but over here they were much more critical - but the public loved it.

    Alice says: "It's about imagining it's not over when it's over. That there is an existence for the living and the dead after someone's died."

    At book signings lots of people seem to tell her about someone they've lost and she says that's great - nobody's asking her to fix anything or do anything.

    Her friend said she'd already done that by writing the book.


    Her memoirs called 'Lucky' also come out now; the book recounts events after Alice was beaten and viciously raped by a stranger when she was only 18 and in college.

    The police said she was very lucky because another girl hadn't been and was found dismembered in the same place.

    This book follows her dreadfully difficult path to recovery and justice - including taking the man to court and seeing him locked up behind bars.

    It's also pretty poignant when recounting her family and friends' attitude to her throughout and their rather inept efforts to provide comfort and support - and in some cases very funny if rather harsh.

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