Who is going to win the 2010 Orange Prize?

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I have now finished my Orange short list reading. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the end of all the books, but I’ve read enough to know their writing style and basic plot.



I was very disappointed by the Orange short list this year. It wasn’t just that I didn’t really like any of the books, but I felt that most of them didn’t deserve to make the short list.

When I read the 2009 Orange short list I didn’t like all the books, but knew why they had been selected and could see the quality of the writing.

In 2010 all the best books were left on the long list.

I think that leaving these three books out of the short list was a big mistake.

The Help – Kathryn Stockett stars4h

Hearts and Minds – Amanda Craig

The Rehearsal – Eleanor Catton stars4 

I think that The Help and The Rehearsal deserved to fight it out for the winning position this year. I have no idea why they weren’t selected and I highly recommend that you take a look at them!

My Reviews and Ratings for 2010 Short List

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey

A Gate at the Stairs – Lorrie Moore

The Very Thought of You – Rosie Alison

Black Water Rising – Attica Locke

The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver stars1 (DNF)

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel stars1 (DNF)

Who is going to win?

In my opinion the only book that deserves to win is Wolf Hall. I didn’t enjoy reading it, but it had the writing quality of a prize winning book. The problem is that the same book has never won the Booker and the Orange prize before. The Orange prize tends to favor fiction over literary fiction and so I have a feeling that Wolf Hall will struggle to win.

Those Orange judges are making very strange selections this year so it is impossible to know which book they will pick. If I try to get inside their minds then I imagine The Very Thought of You has a very good chance. It is a flawless example of a romance book and I think it will have broad appeal.

If I was going to place a bet then my money would be on The White Woman on the Green Bicycle.

I think it is one of those books that will improve with re-reading (something I’m hoping the judges do!). It did have a good plot and although I found it to be a slow read, it has left a good impression on me.

The Bookies Favourite?

The bookies favourite is Wolf Hall. They put The White Woman on the Green Bicycle and The Very Thought of You as the least likely choices, both with odds of 8/1. It is tempting to place a bet….

The winner of the Orange prize will be announced on 9th June.

Who do you think will win?

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  1. Study Window says:

    I haven’t read sufficient of this year’s short list to be qualified to comment, but I do agree with you about those occasions when the best books get left on the long list. Some years ago one of my reading groups was asked by the BBC to read the Booker Long List and come up with our own short list. There were definitely books that year which we all thought were sure things for the short list that were left out and remarks made by the judges some time after the event suggested that the eventual winner was a compromise because there was no one book on the short list that cried out winner.

    1. Jackie says:

      Study Window, I’d love to know which year!! I love reading the long list for book prizes like this for that very reason. I often find the best books are lurking on the long list. The groups of judges must often make a compromise as different judges like/hate different books. I wish they wouldn’t compromise though – a book that creates hate is far better than one everyone finds OK.

  2. Jessica says:

    Wasn’t it over a 100 books the judges had to read for this? I wonder how it gets narrowed down or how on earth they do it. Most of the shortlist has had quite ‘blah’ reviews and I haven’t been tempted to buy any of them.

    I am just about to start Hearts and Minds though and I do have The Help on order. Those two books appealed to me, I haven’t heard of the Rehersal so I’ll look into that.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, I’m afraid I don’t know how many books were submitted for the Orange prize, but I imagine there would be at least 100. I would love to know how they decided as they haven’t picked the same books as I would.

      I hope you enjoy Hearts and Minds and The Help. Both are very good reads. The Rehearsal is very clever, but divides people. It is very confusing so only read it if you are up for a challenge!

  3. Verity says:

    I agre with you re disappointment over shortlist – to me some of the longlisted titles were much more wonderful. I will be interested to see the results – I’m making no predictions as I didn’t fancy reading half of the shortlisted books!

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, I haven’t even mentioned the wonderful This is How or The Little Stranger. Both were better than most of the short list. Someone should let us bloggers have a say!

      1. Verity says:

        And you still have Hearts and minds which is one of the ones that I thouught was best!

  4. Skip says:

    Anything but Wolf Hall would be an upset.

    1. Jackie says:

      Skip, I do love a literary upset ;-)

  5. I would bet on Black Water Rising.

    1. Jackie says:

      CuriousBookFan, Interesting choice – I would be very surprised if it won, but with those judges this year who knows ;-)

  6. Frances says:

    Love when you do these posts. Really gutsy to put yourself out there publicly about what might win. I only read one of these (The Lacuna) and have others in the wings, but just don’t feel that engaged by the process this time around. Wolf Hall wins everything so I would have to go there and assume that The Lacuna would be the backup choice. But then again, I do not have much knowledge of the selection process for the Orange so… I will wait and see like everyone else. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Frances, Thanks for the kind words.

      The bookies seem to think The Lacuna is the second most likely choice, but I have the feeling this is because they are the authors people have actually heard of and most people haven’t read all the books. I think there has been less engagment with the Orange prize this year – mainly because people have been surprised by the short list and a lot of the books don’t appeal. I hope they pick a better selection next year.

  7. Michele says:

    To be honest, I’m pulling for Wolf Hall. I’m one of those who absolutely LOVED that book and I’d love to see a historical fiction novel pick up the prize.

    1. Jackie says:

      Michele, I never thought I’d say this, but I do hope you are right. I didn’t like Wolf Hall, but it is the best book on the list by a long way.

  8. Jill says:

    Jackie, I have read Wolf Hall, The Very Thought of You and almost done with The Lacuna. Unless the ending of the Kingsolver book tanks, that will be my favorite of the three. I still have Roffey’s book on my shelf but won’t read before the winner is announced.

    I have to agree that I was disappointed to not see The Help on the short list. It was such a fabulous book.

    BTW, I am the originator of “Orange July” where readers commit to reading at least one Orange Prize winner or nominee during the month of July. We have a Facebook group, and I posted a link to your blog post this morning. Thanks for writing this insightful article!


    1. Jackie says:

      Jill, Thanks for the link! I’m afraid that I probably won’t be joining in Orange July – I’m all Oranged out now!

      I’ve heard that The Lacuna gets much better in the second half, so if you enjoyed the first then I’m sure you’ll love the second. It was just too slow and emotionless for me.

      I look forward to finding out who wins next week!

  9. Hi there!

    I have no idea, but I have Wolf Hall on my reading list! But looking above, there’s nothing that really catches my eye.

    By the way, my deadline is over and I’ve been improving my blog look. Well, that was the idea. I’ve messed a couple of things up, but it’s different if you haven’t looked for a while ;)

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Jackie says:

      Angelika, I think that having nothing that catches peoples eye is the main problem with the prize this year. Enjoy Wolf Hall :-)

  10. cbjames says:

    I’ve had a copy of Wolf Hall in my TBR stack for a while. I kind of think it’s going to stay there. I would have put The Help on the short list based solely on the amount of press it’s been getting. It would certainly get people to follow the award more.

    I think they should incorporate a “People’s Nomination” somehow. People could vote online or some other way to select the book they most want to see on the short list. Then the judges could go ahead and choose the book they want to win.

    1. Jackie says:

      cbjames, I love the idea of a people’s nomination! I have a feeling that one of the Twilight books would end up on the short list, but to me that would be a great thing and would certainly give the prize more publicity.

      1. Jill says:

        This is shameless self promotion, but I am hosting a survey for readers to cast their vote for the Orange Prize Winner. It’s open to everyone! Feel free to cast your vote! =)

        Take care!

        1. Jackie says:

          Jill, I’ll be interested to see what your survey says – I’ve just cast my vote :-)

  11. stujallen says:

    jackie it all seems a bit tame this time ,saw culture show other night and they gave shortlist to mens book group and they choose wolf hall ,saw earlier comment about letting bloggers choose why don’t you run a bloggers booker ask people to nominate say 2 or 3 books get a longlist and then poll for shortlist and then for winner run it same time as booker see what results we get and they get ! ,all the bset stu

    1. Iris says:

      Love the idea, Stu!

    2. Jackie says:

      Stu, It sounds like a great idea. The Guardian did a similar thing the other year. I always worry that polls like that wont choose the best book – unless everyone has read all the books then the most publicised book will win, rather than the best one. I’ll have a think if there would be a good way to get round it.

  12. Kathleen says:

    I wish I had read these to weigh in with my opinion. I’m hopelessly behind in my reading and in writing my reviews for the books I have read. I’m hoping this weekend to get a bit more reading time. I’ll be reading Middlemarch this summer and am looking forward to that.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, I hope that you get caught up soon – I’m a bit behind too!

  13. Steph says:

    Wolf Hall seems to be winning EVERYTHING this year, so I don’t know if that works for it or against it here! I mean, maybe The Orange Prize folks think it’s had enough attention, but then again, maybe the fact that it keeps winning prizes just means that it’s super awesome. I have no idea how this will go as I didn’t really understand the short list that was picked, but I figure I won’t be surprised if (when?) Wolf Hall wins again.

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, I didn’t understand how they picked the short list either :-) Wolf Hall is the best book on the list, so I will be interested to see if it wins.

  14. Iris says:

    I haven’t read any of these, although I hope to read some of them. If I simply go by feeling then I’d say Wolf Hall, but I really don’t know.

    1. Jackie says:

      Iris, I hope you enjoy your Orange readings :-)

  15. Charlie says:

    Like Iris, I haven’t read any of them and am thinking Wolf Hall. It’s had so much publicity, more, I’d hazard, than the others, which is probably going to make an impact.

    1. Jackie says:

      Charlie, It has had the most publicuty, but I hope they choose the best book rather than the one they think will be most beneficial or the prize ;-)

  16. I still haven’t cracked the spine of Wolf Hall, but I’m not sure the Orange judges will go for it given what I know of it. It’s the wildcard. I have read the other five, and while my personal favorite was Black Water Rising, I don’t think it resonated with others as it did with me. My second favorite, however, was The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, which I adored, found immensely readable and also a quality work of literature. It’s the hybrid of readability and literary fiction you mention, and I agree the Orange judges favor it. I would love for it to win. My money’s on The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, and my heart is with Black Water Rising.

    1. Jackie says:

      nomadreader, I think I’m going to head out and place a bet on The White Woman on the Green Bicycle today. All the people who have read all the books seem to think it has a good chance of winning. I’m really hoping that Black Water Rising doesn’t win though – sorry! :-)

  17. diane says:

    All I can say is I hope it is not A Gate at the Stairs ~~disappointing for me.

    1. Jackie says:

      diane, I can only agree!!

  18. Jenners says:

    I cannot give an opinion as I haven’t read them but it is a shame that the books you felt were most deserving were left off the short list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, It is sad news.

  19. Dan Holloway says:

    I agree this is a disappointing short list – it seems to be very “safe”, which is something one sees a lot of with prizes – the judges will sort of give a nod to the exciting choices on the long list, everyone wonders if at last this means they’re going to stick their necks out, and then come the short list they get cold feet.

    1. Jackie says:

      Dan, I’m not sure it is safe. It would have been much safer for them to bring The Help across to the short list, but they failed to do so. I think it is a very strange short list and I really wonder why they picked the books that they did. There were fantastic books by debut authors on the long list, so why did they bring across the poorer examples?

  20. Alison M. says:

    Thought the short-list was very disappointing & cannot understand why “Hearts & Minds” was left off, it would have been my tip for the winner. Agree with you that “The White Woman on a Green Bicycle” will probably win, although it wouldn’t suprise me if “Wolf Hall” came out on top. Like you, I didn’t like it but can see why it wins so much.

    1. Jackie says:

      Alison, Hearts and Minds and The Help were equally good in my opinion; although they were very different books they were both fantastic. I’d love to know why they were left out.

  21. LizF says:

    I would certainly agree with you that The Help should have been on the short list and Hearts and Minds too. I read both of them last year and still think about them now which is the mark of a good book to me.
    Can’t agree about The Rehearsal I’m afraid! I didn’t get beyond the first twenty pages because it irritated me too much!
    Wouldn’t like to guess what the judges will choose – I have read (or at least started) all but The Lacuna and apart from Wolf Hall (which I am only half way through because I have a hardback copy and it is too big to carry around) the other books left me feeling that while they all had good things about them, equally they all lacked something that would have made them stand out.
    But hey what do I know, I didn’t even go to uni!

    1. Jackie says:

      LizF, I can see why you’d disagree about The Rehearsal. It was quite hard to follow, but I can only admire the cleverness of it. I think it deserved a spot on the short list just for its orginality.

  22. Stephanie says:

    It is so great to read your thoughts for all the nominees. Of the short list, I have only read Wolf Hall, and I use the term “read” lightly, since I haven’t made it to the end yet (and am not sure I ever will!).

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, Don’t worry – I’m in the same position!! I think I might try the audio version at some point as I have heard it is easier to follow. Good luck!

  23. My personal favourite remains The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, but I’ve read them all and believe there are qualities to admire in each of the books. I understand why some people would prefer some of the stories to others, but I don’t understand arguments with the overall quality of the writing on this year’s list.

    As for which deserved to make the shortlist, it’s my feeling that longlists are actually more significant; shifting books from long- to short-list can be a very political process and, simultaneously, a very personal choice. What one reader loves/admires necessarily varies greatly in comparison to the next reader’s preferences, and sorting that out for ourselves as individuals is tricky enough, let alone achieving consensus in a group of differently-minded readers!

    I’m curious to see what turn things take on Wednesday… hopefully I will have managed to turn the final pages of Wolf Hall by then!

    1. Jackie says:

      BuriedInPrint, I disagree with you in some respects. I know that we all have different reading tastes and enjoy reading different things (I can see that Wolf Hall is very well written, despite the fact I didn’t enjoy it) but some of the books on the short list are not very well written novels.

      As an example, A Gate at the Stairs does have some fantastic writing in it, but it just doesn’t work as a novel. The Orange prize should represent the best writing in the world and if these six books are the best books written by women in the last year then novel writing is in a very bad place. People should be able to trust these awards to introduce them to the very best books out there and I don’t think it is succeeding. I am considering ignoring this prize in future, as it is failing to highlight the best books.

      With the possible exception of Wolf Hall no one will be talking about these books in 5 years time, let alone 50. They don’t have that special star quality that encourages people to talk about, recommend or remember these books. I’m very disappointed in the choices.

  24. Jill says:

    Jackie: thanks for voting in my survey. The results are in if you want to check it out! It was an interesting race!


  25. I only read the Lorrie Moore, and didn’t think it was going to win.

    Must read both, Wolf Hall and The Lacuna sometime soon. I’m not feeling particularly inclined to read either, but a couple of people have spoken very highly of Wolf Hall to me recently, so I might change my mind about it, and bump it up the tbr…


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