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Engleby Hardcover – 3 May 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson; 1st edition (3 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091794501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091794507
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 402,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sebastian Faulks was born in April 1953. Before becoming a full-time writer in 1991, he worked as a journalist. His French trilogy - The Girl at the Lion d'Or, Birdsong and Charlotte Gray (1989-1997) - established him in the front rank of British novelists. UK sales of Birdsong exceed 2,500,000 copies, and for this novel he was named "Author of the Year" by the British Book Awards in 1995. It is regularly voted one of the nation's favourite books. Charlotte Gray has also sold over a million copies and was filmed with Cate Blanchett in the main part.

Product Description


"Evidence of Faulks's remarkable empathy and mastery of the novelist's art... Compelling, disturbing and significant... A remarkable achievement. It's a novel which holds your attention and, more importantly, one which makes you feel and think, one which invites you to ponder the mystery of character and the autonomous individual - if indeed there is such a being. What more can you ask for?" (Allan Massie, Scotsman)

"Engleby contains much of brilliance; Faulks turns out to be an unnervingly good ventriloquist - where did he learn to imitate the overblown modulations of an 18-year-old girl's diary? - and a born thriller writer" (Mail on Sunday)

"Very funny and, at the same time, deeply disturbing...Engleby the character is a tour-de-force, a person utterly without empathy who nevertheless evokes our own; a man with the intelligence to examine himself and yet still not understand. A great read, a great novel" (Daily Mail)

"Just as Birdsong is praised for its minute evocation of the horror of fighting a war, Engleby deserves praise for its close and believable depiction of a personality disorder. Mike's memory lapses, brain-freezes and moments of wet-skinned panic are drawn with pitiless accuracy... What is perhaps most impressive in this convincing novel is that no matter how much we find out about Mike, he remains as indecipherable as white noise" (Spectator)

"Like Human Traces, Engleby is distinguished by a remarkable intellectual energy: a narrative verve, technical mastery of the possibilities of the novel form and vivid sense of the tragic contingency of human life. Within the grand design of his narrative themes, Engleby's systematising nature allows Faulks the opportunity for bravura flourishes of Seventies period detail - the drugs, the music, the florid excesses of pre-Murdoch newspaper printers, the serpentine convolutions of suburban roundabouts, and so on. The combination of serious purpose and playful execution is intensely exhilarating" (Jane Shilling, Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

Sebastian Faulks's new novel is a bolt from the blue, unlike anything he has written before: contemporary, demotic, heart-wrenching - and funny, in the deepest shade of black.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roger Risborough on 30 Nov. 2010
Format: Audio CD
This is specifically a review of the audio-book, which is read by Michael Moloney. I'm not normally a fan of MM's portrayals, but here, his performance and his character are brilliant. He completely captures the tone and timing of Mike Engleby, and the orbiting cast - in fact I found his Engleby haunting to the point of him popping up in my dreams. The sense of creeping tension that builds from page one is tangible, compelling and disturbing. Slowly, the jigsaw pieces of Engleby's life are pushed into place - from being bullied at school for saying "Toilet" to ending up in the natural resting place for those of diminished responsibilty (Fleet Street). When Mike's mental state is analysed towards the end, I felt so shaken by the strength of the characterisation that I started to identify some of Engleby's 'symptoms' in myself! When Engleby's physical appearance is revealed (deliberately as late as possible), that is also a shock that shakes your pre-conceptions. The one-star reviewers who all say "I worked out what happens straightaway" have missed the point - Engleby is not a whodunnit, or a thriller; it's a searing sketch of someone who might be sitting next to us in the pub . . . . . or looking at us in the mirror.
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232 of 245 people found the following review helpful By Bethany Williams on 20 May 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is phenomenal; it has shot into my top ten books of all time. It takes a lot to make it into this esteemed list and Faulks has certainly delivered a lot here. He is truly a master and this change from his usual style is brilliant. He has moved away from the historical novel to a relatively contemporary setting. The story touches on the themes of education, class, politics, and psychosis. The narrator is Engleby, an undergraduate at Cambridge in the 70's. He is a strange character, a loner and outsider, very much on the fringes of life. He is not particularly pleasant but he is engaging, intelligent and funny. However, there is always something missing from his accounts of his life and the reader can never be sure if they are missing some details. Most of the book takes place inside his mind and since he has `selective memory' he is always one step ahead of the reader. This isn't a book in which a great deal happens but the beauty is in the subtlety.

Faulks' writing style is very lucid and he uses language sparingly; with his books you get none of the 'misty' effect I've noticed in many new books lately where the actual story seems to be lost underneath a mass of unnecessary verbosity. He is perceptive and insightful with a dry sense of humour. His ruminations on the pointlessness of studying English are very, very funny. Faulks is not afraid to offend and that is a refreshing quality in this day and age.

I read this book very quickly as I found myself literally unable to put it down. If you are a Faulks fan this is a must read for you. If you are new to him, Engleby is a great introduction (although don't expect his other works to be similar - they're not.) Every time I open a book I hope that this will be the one that gets me really inspired and keeps me up all night reading; this was the one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
Without a doubt, this is my favourite Sebastian Faulks novel to date. Faulks is an author who doesn't stick to a formula - his topics and styles differ considerably between books, not always entirely successfully. But here he's definitely hit on a winner.

Engleby is narrated by the title character, a highly intelligent loner who leaves behind working class roots to win a place at Cambridge University, but struggles to fit in with society. The character is complex and fascinating, and I found him compellingly believable. I found I could pity and empathise with him whilst at the same time not particularly liking him and actually finding him quite creepy.

The narrative is sparkling and moves on at a good pace, and is really very funny in a lot of places. I'm not normally a fan of dark humour, but this is written so well I found myself laughing out loud at times. This is combined with really chilling moments that send a shiver down the spine. The skillful mixing of these elements makes it a really special book.

I do have a few minor criticisms. The story loses pace at the very end and becomes a bit tedious (you get the feeling Faulks is trying to get more mileage out of the research he did for 'Human Traces'). Also the refusal to name the university Engleby attends seems ridiculous when it is blatantly Cambridge. But these don't really detract from a great novel.

This is certainly the best book I've read this year (though it is only March) and one I always looked forward to reading the next chapter of.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S.M. Gidley on 13 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
It's a real relief when a novelist is brave enough to present readers with a character who isn't begging to be liked and Faulks has done that with Engleby; in fact he's done much more.

As you make your way through this novel Mike Engleby changes not only the name by which he is known but seemingly also his character. As he reveals parts of his life you can't help feeling more and more sympathy for him as he appears to gain more depth. However, all this leaves you stranded at the novel's denouement which, as other reviewers point out, you can see coming from quite a long way off. Finally you get to see him as others in the novel do and you feel foolish for having fallen for his slight charm and resourcefulness.

Although spanning several decades, Engleby's reach is actaully quite short with all personnel and events seemingly drawn irresistably into Mike's troubled mind.

This is a clever, quite disturbing, tidy novel that is devastatingly unsentimental.
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