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The Closed Circle Paperback – 19 May 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (19 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141033274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141033273
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 399,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham in 1961. His novels include The Rotters' Club, The Accidental Woman, A Touch of Love, The Dwarves of Death and What a Carve Up!, which won the 1995 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger. His latest novel is The Rain Before it Falls (Penguin, 2007).

The House of Sleep won the Writers' Guild Best Fiction Award for 1997.

Product Description

Review

Praise for The Closed Circle:

'Spectacular. Coe's finest achievement since What a Carve Up!' Time Out

Wonderful, hilarious … so appealing that the last cruel thing about it is the ending' Daily Telegraph

'Superbly funny, extremely readable, entertaining … keeps the pages turning' Guardian

'As funny as anything Coe has written' The Times Literary Supplement

'Richly drawn. Coe has succeeded in accomplishing that rare feat: a pair of novels that combine the addictive quality of the best soap operas with a basic cultural integrity' Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham in 1961. His most recent novel is The Rain Before It Falls. He is also the author of The Accidental Woman, A Touch of Love, The Dwarves of Death, What a Carve Up!, which won the 1995 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, The House of Sleep, which won the 1998 Prix Medicis Etranger, The Rotter's Club, winner of the Everyman Wodehouse Prize and The Closed Circle. He has also published a biography of the novelist B.S. Johnson, which won the Orwell prize

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Dr. P. M. Chambers on 1 Oct. 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am a big fan of Coe's work and greatly enjoyed The Rotters' Club and have looked forward to this sequel for some time.
As a follow on to The Rotters' Club it does not generally disappoint and admirably ties up the loose ends created in the first novel (although at times Coe perhaps overuses coincidence to do this). The writing is, of course, excellent and there are the usual twists and comic set pieces that are the author's trademark.
I was especially pleased at the way in which he had allowed the characters from the first book to develop into adults. It was great to see how some of the facets of their teenage personalities have, in some cases, come to dominate their senior lives.
All in all, very enjoyable and the only reason I haven't given it five stars is because I feel that Coe's handling of the book's political content is less than satisfactory.
Politics are a feature of Coe's work but in this case I think that the author's own viewpoints (especially on the second Gulf War) have been clumsily shoe-horned into the latter part of the book (usually via monologues given by individual characters).
The use of political satire has been great in Coe's other books but in The Closed Circle I felt at times as though I was reading an editorial from a broadsheet rather than a novel.
Clearly Coe's views are passionately held but I would expect somebody of his talent to be able to work them into the book a little more subtly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Philtrum on 31 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This, The Closed Circle (TCC) is a straightforward sequel to The Rotters' Club (TRC) and there would be no point reading this having not read the earlier book.

The same characters from TRC are now 25 years older, with kids of their own. There were some unanswered questions from the first book and this book pretty much ties up all of them.

Sadly, I think it would have been better if TCC had not been written, but it was and, having enjoyed TRC immensely, I felt compelled to read TCC.

Even though we find out what happened to all the characters, there are two problems for me.

Firstly, some of the plotting is, basically, silly. I see that other reviewers have criticised the unbelievable coincidences and I have to agree. Someone's in Berlin and someone else they know just happens to be in the same hotel? Really? And this is just one of the slightly more believable plot points.

Secondly, one of the reasons that the first book was so enjoyable for me is because I was a teenager in the 1970s so a lot of the book resonated particularly strongly with me. Maybe one of the reasons books about the teenage years, or books looking back at the teenage years, are so popular is because so many of us share the same experiences. Once we grow up and lead our lives our experiences become much more diverse. So it was with TCC. I could not longer really empathise with many of the characters. Too many of them seemed too selfish. The two main characters, the Trotter brothers, Paul and Benjamin, were far too self-involved to make me more than fleetingly interested.

It is well written. I read it in 3-4 days, which is fast for me. The politics (Iraq war, New Labour's cosy relationship with business) was a little trite.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Miles on 27 Oct. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is set in the political climate of the 90's, and it reads as though it was written then too. Tired cliches, rehashed caricatures for characters. Obvious humour that might have been funny and seemed fresh and satirical 20 years ago. The frustrating thing is that when he's writing the more serious and sensitive parts of this book, Jonathan Coe demonstrates real skill. The storyline about the sister/ aunt/ daughter who disappeared many years ago, and the impact on those left behind is the most interesting part of the book to me. But the rest of it I found myself wading through, struggling to keep track of what was going on and who was who each time I picked up the book (not because it's complex, just because I had found the last bit I read so boring and I cared so little about the characters that it had slipped past my glazed eyes without ever connecting with my brain and memory!) I am an avid reader, and can enjoy even mediocre books, but this one reached the stage where it felt like a real chore to pick it up... only sheer will power made me keep reading in the hope that it would finally engage me. And to be fair, it did improve by about half way through, but not enough to make me actually want to keep reading or actually give two hoots about any of the people.

I'm sorry, but for me this is a dull book written by a talented writer, and I really can't understand the reviews saying how hilarious and brilliant it is. But hey - horses for courses. You might really enjoy it. I just can't recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
The sequel to Coe's 1970s epic 'The Rotter's Club', taking up with our main characters (Ben Trotter, his brother Paul and sister Lois, Claire Newman, Douglas Anderton, Philip Chase, Steve Richards and others)in the millenium year and after. Claire, divorced from Philip, has been out in Italy working as a freelance translator, where she has fallen (complicatedly) in love. Philip, remarried, is in Birmingham working as a local journalist, while Doug has married a beautiful aristocrat and is working for a London broadsheet. And Benjamin... well, not to spoil too much but Benjamin's dreams have not quite come true; he's an accountant, living in Birmingham, married to quiet Emily (who was on the fringes of his school friendship group) and still lamenting the mysterious disappearance of Cicely. Meanwhile Benjamin's brother Paul, once decidedly Thatcherite, has embraced New Labour and become a politician. But with the arrival of a mysterious girl called (not all that plausibly) Malvina, everyone's lives are about to change!

Whatever else one may say about this book, it's a brilliant evocation of Blairite Britain and all that was so irritating about it. There are some hilarious scenes: meetings at the newspaper where Doug works, a meal where Doug loudly denounces New Labour to smug Paul, an awards ceremony for the '50 sharpest men', and some good dissection of cultural symbols of our time such as sushi, reality TV, tabloidy magazines and Starbucks. There is also some satisfying wrapping up of mysteries: we finally find out who drugged Steve before his A'Levels and why (though the answer may seem a little melodramatic to some), what happened to the enigmatic Sean Harding, and why and how Miriam Newman disappeared.
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