Who is going to win the Orange Prize this year?

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I have now read all six books short listed for the  Orange Prize 2009.  Overall, I wasn’t very impressed with the quality of books which made the short list. I think that the judges this year must be fans of literary fiction, particularly books which are reflective and full of wisdom. I prefer great characters and a complex plot, so I didn’t get much pleasure from reading the final six.

So who is going to win the Orange Prize this year?

Here are my thoughts on each book’s chances…..


The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt



My review

I don’t think this has a real chance of winning. Some people enjoyed it, and it does have some interesting literary devices in it, but overall it doesn’t have the feel of a prize winning book.

Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Madden



My review

There is an outside chance that this could win the Orange Prize. Fans of literary fiction really enjoy this book, and lovers of general fiction (like me) do not find anything wrong with it. It is a nice gentle read, and it does have a great ending. If the judges are a mixture of literary fiction and general fiction lovers then they could well compromise on their favourite book by agreeing to choose this as a winner. 

Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman



My review

I don’t think this has a realistic chance of winning. There is nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t have that magic spark. It is a reasonable read about an important historical case, but I think it did well to get nominated.

Home by Marilynne Robinson



My review

I think that Home has a very real chance of winning the Orange Prize. Fans of literary fiction love this book, they rave about it being their favourite book of the year, and how amazing the poetic prose is. I didn’t enjoy it at all, but I’ve a feeling that the judges do and so it will probably win.

The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey



My review

This my favourite by a long way. The writing was so moving and thought provoking. It was in a league above the rest for me and I really hope that it wins, but I’m not that sure it will.


Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie



My review

Burnt Shadows has an outside chance of winning. The plot is very ambitious, and I don’t think it quite worked, but everyone enjoyed it to some extent, and there were quite a few literary devices to please those judges. I wouldn’t be overly surprised if this managed to sneak through to win, as not many books try to achieve the things this one does.


The winner is announced on 3rd June, and I really hope that The Wilderness wins, but if I had to place a bet I’d put my money on Home.

Have you read any of the shortlist?

Who do you think will win?

I look forward to hearing your opinions!

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  1. Sandy says:

    I sure wish I could give you an informed opinion, but have read none of these. You are a reading machine, girl. But, based on your reviews, I will vote for The Wilderness. I will be chasing down this book at some point this summer, whether it wins or not!

  2. Wendy says:

    First of all – congratulations on reading all of these so quickly! I haven’t read any of them yet – but I do have Burnt Shadows on my TBR list and you have made me eager to get Wilderness (I think you and I mostly agree on books!) Sadly, I think you may be right about Home – all the print reviewers seem to be gushing about it and historically prize judges tend to like her work.

  3. Wendy says:

    Oh, I also meant to ask you if you might cross post this to the Orange Prize Project list?!??! I think people over there would be interested in your thoughts – or if you don’t want to cross post the whole thing, maybe give a teaser and link to your blog???

  4. Steph says:

    I haven’t read any of these, so I really shouldn’t speculate about who might win the prize this year. Thanks for doing all the legwork. It sounds like it was a mixed bunch for you, but at least you got one fantastic read out of it… I am still waiting to find a 5-star book myself this year!

  5. Claire says:

    I have only read Burnt Shadows, which I really enjoyed and hope will win.

    However, I have requested The Wilderness and Scottsboro from the library and the former is awaiting collection so I am hoping that I manage to fit in reading it before the 3rd.

    Well done on managing to read the entire shortlist (as opposed to my pathetic one shortlist, and one other from the longlist)! One year I will succeed in reading them all.

  6. Jackie says:

    Sandy – Lets hope Wilderness wins, and I’m pleased you are planning to track it down.

    Wendy – Yes – I can add this the the Orange blog – hopefully later tonight.

    Steph – It is not often that I meet someone who gives out less 5 stars than me – Wilderness was only my second of the year (after The Hunger Games) so 5 stars are very rare for me too. I hope you find a five star book soon.

  7. Jackie says:

    Claire – Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time. I hope you enjoy Wilderness as much as I did. I’m off to have a look at your blog!

  8. Claire says:

    Jackie, thank you for the welcome; I found your blog through Claire @Kiss a Cloud and I am glad that I did!

  9. Jackie says:

    Claire – Your blog is great too – we read very similar books, and I am really pleased you found me!

  10. FleurFisher says:

    Nice overview. I’ve only picked up the Samantha Hunt, which like you I din’t get on with – I dropped it, and Scottsboro, which is on my library pile but really isn’t calling to me. I agree Marilynne Robinson is looking a likely winter (I didn’t like Gilead so I haven’t attempted Home). Always possible though that having awarded an established writer last year they will go for someone lesser known this year – giving Samantha Harvey a decent chance.

    Are you planning on tackling the new writers award list? I have just finished the Francesca Kay and was very impressed – I think you may like it too.

  11. Jackie says:

    Jane – It looks as though we have similar taste with the Orange books. I am planning on reading the new writers list at some point, but am not attempting to read them before the award is announced. If you think that An Equal Stillness was very good, then I’ll make sure I keep an eye out for it.

  12. Matthew says:

    I have not read any of these titles, but have been recommended to me Home numerous times. Molly Fox’s Birthday and The Wilderness actually sound even better to me!

  13. Violet says:

    I haven’t read any of these books, but based on your reviews I would say The Wilderness. I have heard great thigns about Burnt Shadows, so I guess that could win too.

  14. Beth F says:

    I have Burnt Shadows and plan on reading it. I haven’t read and don’t plan on reading the others. Wish I could have been more helpful.

  15. Claire says:

    Jackie, we definitely read similar books – I see you are currently reading The Post-Birthday, which I currently have waiting for me at the library and The Master and the Margarita is also on my TBR list! I look forward to reading what you have to say about them both.

  16. Trish says:

    I’m glad you brought this up because I haven’t heard much about the Orange Prize this year so far. Haven’t read any of the shortlisters, but I’ll be interested in seeing who wins.

  17. Jackie says:

    Burnt Shadows does seem to have much more prominence in the blogging world than any of the others. I wonder why this is? I guess that it sounds the most interesting from the blurb?

  18. Thanks for the blurbs on all of these. I haven’t heard of many of them, but a couple sound interesting.


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