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A Vicious Circle [Paperback]

Amanda Craig
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
Price: 10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

6 Sep 2012
A Vicious Circle exposes the corruption of London's journalistic circuit, the horrors of our hospitals and slums, and the transformations caused by motherhood. Gripping, tender and fiercely funny, it has been instantly recognised as a modern classic about the way we live now.

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Frequently Bought Together

A Vicious Circle + A Private Place + Love In Idleness
Price For All Three: 29.23

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (6 Sep 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0349139326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349139326
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amanda Craig was born in South Africa in 1959, and brought up in Italy and Britain. After reading English at Clare College Cambridge, she became an award-winning young journalist in the 1980s. She is the author of six novels, Foreign Bodies (1990), A Private Place (1991) A Vicious Circle (1996), In a Dark Wood (2000) and Love In Idleness (2003). Her novels and short stories carry characters on from one book to the next, and her new novel, Hearts and Minds (2009) is a sequel to both A Vicious Circle and Love in Idleness. She lives in London, is a reviewer and broadcaster, and is also the children's book critic for the Times.

You can find out more on www.amandacraig.com, which includes a regular blog on literary matters.

Product Description


A masterpiece...The greatest novelist under the age of fifty has now stepped onto the stage. -- The Evening Standard, December 1996

A plot of marvellous intricacy...it provokes peals of horrid laughter. -- The Observer, December 1996

Combines wit, panache and extravagance with a poenetrating moral sense...delightfully readable and not a little disturbing -- The Scotsman, December 1996

It's like Dickens without the long-winded bits. It makes you laugh, it makes you blub..an excellent and entertaining read. -- The Daily Mail, December 1996 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

..Although the satirical elements of the novel caused considerable scandal, the purpose of the novel was not to be published as a roman a clef (a genre I have little time for)but to address the way that, under Thatcher, the divisions between the classes in Britian, and London in particular, had deepened disastrously. I wanted to link the world of the rich and powerful like Max de Monde and Ivo Sponge with that of the poor and overlooked, such as Grace, Billy and Tom's patients in the NHS. I did this through a device I found in both Thackeray's Vanity Fair and Balzac's Lost Illusions: telling the story of how Mary, poor and unjustly treated rises in the world to become powerful herself. She then has to choose to what ends she uses her power, and whether she becomes as corrupt as those she has been damaged by. All my novels are about aspects of creativity, and this one is about what can be the artist's deadliest enemy, or best friend: criticism. As both author and critic, I know how wounding stupid and malicious reviews can be. Also, how helpful those that are not necessarily kind but perceptive and intelligent can be. Satire is always dangerous, not least to its author, and I was horrified to discover that two novels satirising the press in the past were successfully suppressed. However, I was deeply annoyed at the way the scandal whipped up by the sillier elements of literary London obscured the more serious purpose of the novel, and I'm pleased to see that many amazon readers at least read it properly, and enjoyed not only its jokes and story but its literary antecedents. I should also add that Ivo Sponge reappears in my latest novel, Love in Idleness, and that there will be a sequel to that and A Vicious Circle published in 2004/5. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vicious Circle by Amanda Craig 3 Mar 2003
This is a jaundiced but funny and poignant look at a small circle of Oxbridge graduates in London who are cutting each others' throats on their way to the top of the media at the end of the last century. It is a hugely ambitious book, ranging from the world of mega rich media magnate Max de Monde (Robert Maxwell in disguise)to the run down housing estate lived in by single mum Grace. The heroine Mary thinks that if you can't beat em you just have to join em, and becomes the most savage book reviewer of them all, until she sees how destructive her pen can be. She is a likeable and believable character, and the whole story whips along at a cracking pace, by turns funny, excruciating, sad, wise, and, when it comes to bringing up baby, toe-curling. Altogether a Good Read.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful novel 11 Oct 2003
By A Customer
Amanda Craig's book is a tour-de-force: a panoramic, Dickensian swoop around 90's London. Vivid, funny, and passionate, Craig's fictional world seethes with humour and wonderful set pieces. Although primarily set in the bitchy world of literary criticism, Craig also brilliantly explores the way motherhood can turn your world upside down. A must- read for anyone who loves fiction, and a welcome introduction to Craig's best fictional creation: the slobby, lecherous critic Ivo Sponge, who makes a welcome return in Craig's latest, "Love in Idleness."
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful, wonderful book 31 July 2000
This book is a delight to read -- and read again after reading Craig's earlier novels, Foreign Bodies and A Private Place, which are loosely linked to each other and this one. Compelling well-drawn characters, rich plots, and an authorial voice that strikes the perfect balance between harshness and light, satire and empathy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devour this Tale 11 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have long admired Amanda Craig's book reviews, and this year I have also had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with her fiction. Starting with the excellent state-of-the-nation novel Hearts and Minds, I then read In a Dark Wood and now 'A Vicious Circle'. Lighter in tone than 'H&M', but still a novel with a social conscience, this is the best yet.

It seems incredible to me that 'The Vicious Circle' is not more widely known. With a writing style reminiscent of Jonathan Coe, and Kate Atkinson, it is hard to see why Craig does not share their popularity. Perhaps this novel's subject matter is the reason? 'The Vicious Circle' is an amusing, and often cutting, dissection of the publishing industry.

The characters are richly described, well rounded and believable. They have wonderful Dickensian sounding names; the irrepressible Ivo Sponge, the ghastly Mark Crawley and the corpulent newspaper proprietor Max de Monde (Who is Robert Maxwell, so thinly veiled even Salome would blush). The whole thing is a riot of backstabbing and one-upmanship.

The plot follows publishers, authors and book reviewers, and the toxic relationships that form between them. Throw in a socialite beauty, a jilted ex and a dashing doctor, and you have the ingredients for a most agreeable novel. Considering that Craig is prolific reviewer of literature, it seems odd that in this novel, critics come in for such hard time. Then again, if I wrote a novel based on my job, and the people I'd worked with, I'm not sure how many would still be speaking to me!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An acid wit and sharp observations 5 Sep 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Amanda Craig shows and amazing insight into the world of writing and publishing. A Vicious Circle is inhabited with journalists, literary agents, media moguls, editors and publicists. It is written with great verve and skill with well-rounded characters - few of which emerge as unflawed human beings. Many are shown as selfish, egotistical and, let's face it, vicious. The most sympathetic character is Grace, a single parent living on a run-down estate and eking out a living by babysitting and cleaning. Some characters are depicted as quite monstrous - but at the same time are quite believable.
Mary Quinn, an Irish waitress, is introduced to the world of book reviewing by her lover and takes to it like a duck to water. But she soon becomes as cruel and revengeful as many others and uses her reviewing as a weapon of choice rather than as a way of sharing literary insights. At the beginning of the book is the launch party for a travel book written by Max de Monde's daughter, Amelia. She is a "celebrity" - beautiful, vain and lazy but has still managed to get a book published - just as in real life! Without wishing to give the plot away her character was one of the surprises of the plot....
Some of the writing is very funny. When Mary queries as to whether some reviewers don't actually read the whole book she is told: "Good heaven, no. Skim, my darling, skim.....reviewers are paid far too little for it to be worth their while." Craig also has some lovely observations. She refers to infants in their buggies with the rain covers on as "boil-in-the-bag progeny".
A great read made even better by Amanda Craig's acid wit and sharp observations. And there is even a redemptive ending - how good is that?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare 5-star novel
Lately I seem to be stumbling across brilliant books in unorthodox ways. After a long spell of buying disappointing novels based on what gets media attention (ironic given the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Alice Adams
2.0 out of 5 stars Spike this, it's not worth the trouble of reading it
The characters are unconvincing and too much of Craig's own bitterness about her libel problems comes out which is neither entertaining nor useful. Read more
Published 5 months ago by P J Henderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Acute, darkly humourous.
Yest another Amanda Craig book I couldn't put down, giving an insight into the murky world of publishing and book reviews. Read more
Published 11 months ago by P. Ashley
4.0 out of 5 stars "Anyone who writes a letter of complaint about a review practically...
There are some fascinating character studies in this book, not least because the publicity surrounding it is mired in controversy. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Eileen Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Painful pleasure!
Vicious it is . . . and delightfully funny! It is also shrewd, witty and engrossing; and the title's pun is neatly executed. Read more
Published on 28 Jan 2012 by Suzette A. Hill
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite on the money
Three stars might suggest it was O-Kayish, but I really loved reading it. The writing was so witty, entertaining and page turning it was a sheer delight to open the book. Read more
Published on 7 Aug 2011 by Lovejoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy of the "modern Dickens" accolade
I have read and reread this book several times since I bought it in hardback when it was first published. Read more
Published on 6 July 2011 by Alice Chalmers
5.0 out of 5 stars A Keen Observing Eye
It's rare that one finds a novel that combines satire and serious thought as well as this. As a Cambridge graduate myself, I recognized many of the 'types' described in this novel,... Read more
Published on 22 Feb 2011 by Kate Hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, clever and compassionate.
A brilliant and sharply observed novel about competitive friendships and the world of arts journalism. Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2009 by Book -devourer
5.0 out of 5 stars Amanda Craig is a national treasure
Surely it is only a matter of time before Amanda Craig gets the recognition she deserves for her wonderful novels, although I'm not sure her publisher has done her any favours by... Read more
Published on 6 Jun 2003 by C. Bones
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