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The Closed Circle Hardcover – 2 Sep 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 1st Edition edition (2 Sep 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670892548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670892549
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 443,604 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.


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3.8 out of 5 stars
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 April 2005
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 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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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Oct 2004
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 on 4 Sep 2004
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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