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The Closed Circle [Paperback]

Jonathan Coe
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

19 May 2008

The Closed Circle is Jonathan Coe's hilarious sequel to The Rotters' Club

It's the end of the century and Benjamin Trotter and friends are all grown up. Life is a ceaseless whirl of jobs, marriages, kids - and self-inflicted angst. Despite the shiny optimism of Blair's Britain, youthful hopes and dreams feel betrayed. Is the Government (and by extension Benjamin's MP brother Paul) to blame? Or are the 'rotters' themselves - only passingly faithful to their dreams - really at fault?

The Closed Circle - sequel to The Rotters' Club - depicts a group of former school friends as older, wiser and disillusioned in Blair's Britain at the turn of the millennium. It proves that the present can never truly be disentangled from the past.

'Terrific. An incisive portrait of Britain at the turn of the century' Spectator

'Coe's finest achievement since What a Carve up!' Time Out

'Popular fiction at its best' Daily Mail

Jonathan Coe's novels are filled with biting political satire, moving and astute observations of life and hilarious set pieces that have made him one of the most popular writers of his generation. His other titles, The Accidental Woman, The Dwarves of Death, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, The House of Sleep (winner of the 1998 Prix Médicis Étranger), A Touch of Love, What a Carve Up! (winner of the 1995 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize) and The Rain Before it Falls, are all available in Penguin paperback.


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The Closed Circle + The Rotters' Club + What a Carve Up!
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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: 3 x 12.5 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 77,414 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many circles closed 13 April 2005
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I couldn't wait to get started on The Closed Circle - I've loved almost all of Jonathan Coe's books, particularly The Rotters Club, and with the TV adaptation still fresh in my mind... But oh what a disappointment. The whole thing became contrived beyond belief, coincidences here, shoe-horning contemporary issues in there (the obligatory road rage incident for example) and, most disappointingly most of the characters had become one dimensional charicatures. Coe is clearly angry about New Labour and the 2nd Gulf War, but I wanted to read a novel, not a piece of rather clumsy polemic. If you want to find out "what happened" to everyone after The Rotters Club it's all in there, but in closing the circle for us Coe has destroyed the great characters he'd created and the world he'd previously conjured up. I think I would have been happier still wondering...
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, shame about the politics 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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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A difficult read 3 Oct 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
But not for the obvious reasons. In fact, a better word would probably be "painful" instead of "difficult". I am a huge fan of Coe's, I've read all of his books and I simply couldn't wait to get my hands on The Closed Circle. One thing I've always admired in Coe's books was that he seemed to find it amazingly easy to avoid cliches and contrived plots - everything in his books seemed to flow perfectly and his use of a variety of storytelling techniques always kept me hooked. In The Closed Circle, however, I noticed a tendency on the part of the author to go for the easy route by spelling it out too much. His style was didactic, often patronising, and the jokes were thick-cut. Coe's signature, subtle humour, seemed to have vanished. The other thing that I found really difficult to deal with was the ideology: because I agreed with the anti-war, anti-NF views expressed in the book, it was a real disappointment to see that the discourse didn't go beyond the average "war is evil" analysis. There was no depth. Overall, my feeling after finishing this book was that it was ok but as a huge fan of Coe's, it could have been a hell of a lot better. To me, this was a rushed effort. Too much pressure from Penguin, perhaps?
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42 of 51 people found the following review helpful
By A. Craig HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover
I totally disagree with the previous reviewer. True, The Rotter's Club had more by way of stylistic experiment, pastiche,parody etc., plus (for those old enough to remember them) the nostalgia of revisiting the 1970s. However, I thought The Closed Circle just as good a novel as The Rotters' Club.
All the usual suspects are here, from the mournful, solipsistic Benjamin Trotter, still trying to write his great novel and pining for the beautiful Cecily, to the now completely lunatic "Sir Arthur Pusey-Hamilton", supporting both the Greens and the NF. Benjamin's brother, formerly a small bit-player, has become a Widmerpoolish politician besotted with Malvina, whom Benjamin is also in love with.
There is a lot about Blair's Britain which may not go down well with the Guardian-reader who supports him; but for those on the Left who are disillusioned with New Labour this is brilliantly sharp. It was easy to send up Thatcherism in What a Carve Up, but Blairism is much more slippery, and although nothing can touch the play Feelgood, this is a more mature and human exploration of how ideals have crashed and burnt. The funniest set-pieces are almost all to do with the horrors of parenthood, advancing middle-age and self-advancement. The plot is much better too, weaving in past mysteries such as the disappearance of Claire's sister Miriam and the failure of a talented black student with Malvina's true identity. Benjamin's obsession with music suggests the jazzy form of the novel as a whole. I have no hesitation in recommending The Closed Circle to anyone other than a literary editor (described, perhaps unwisely, by one character as "f***ing c***ts). On second thoughts, perhaps especially to literary editors.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books of all time
It hardly seemed possible that this could be a worthy sequel to The Rotters' Club, and yet it is that and more. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Alice Adams
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor sequel to The Rotters Club
Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed The Rotter's Club, this sequel was a great disappointment. I would not recommend this book as it in no way is comparable to its predecessor.
Published 10 months ago by Adrian Hitch
4.0 out of 5 stars A good follow up to the Rotter's Club
I found this book quite funny and entertaining. I remember liking the Rotter's Club more, but that was a long time ago so maybe my tastes have changed. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Craig Twyman
3.0 out of 5 stars A circle that would have been best left open?
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. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Philtrum
5.0 out of 5 stars The best yet !!
A firm ambition in my life is to meet Mr Coe himself.
Nobody has anything like his ability to successfully recreate an era. Read more
Published 17 months ago by terri the cook
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
read this having read the Rotters Club, same cast of characters, but time has moved on. I loved the details of the 1970's so familiar to someone of my age and I loved the mixing... Read more
Published 17 months ago by R J Hewett
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for closure, but - oh! - the coincidences!
This sequel to The Rotters Club (which I thought was pretty good) revisits the characters from the first book 20 years on and covers the period from the end of the 90s to the early... Read more
Published 18 months ago by John Tierney
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and cliched
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. Read more
Published 21 months ago by L. Miles
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disappointment
I bought this after loving The Rotters' Club but it didn't live up to expectations. I just didn't believe that Paul had turned into a smarmy, shallow and rather stupid New Labour... Read more
Published 23 months ago by whirla
5.0 out of 5 stars The Closed Circle
A brilliant sequel to 'The Rotters' Club' - both thoroughly good reads which my husband and I both enjoyed. Jonathan Coe is now one of my favourite authors.
Published on 5 Nov 2011 by Mary Hewes
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