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The Coincidence Authority Hardcover – 12 Sep 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (12 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297866125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297866121
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.7 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 425,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Ironmonger is a writer, a zoologist, and someone who dabbles in healthcare IT. He is the author of 'The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder,' published by Orion books, and of 'The Coincidence Authority' which is due out in 2013.

John was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and at the age of thirteen he was dispatched to boarding school in England (St Lawrence College in Ramsgate). He studied Zoology at Nottingham University, and went on to complete a PhD degree at Liverpool studying freshwater leeches and flatworms. This led to a period lecturing at a new University in Nigeria (the University of Ilorin).

John married Sue Newnes in 1975, and they have two children - Zoe, and Jonathan. In 1994, while Sue was serving on the Council of Chester Zoo, John wrote 'The Good Zoo Guide,' a guide to all of the UK's zoos and animal parks, which was published by Harper Collins.

John has worked in the IT industry since the 80s, and has travelled widely, spending a lot of time in America, Europe, and the Middle East. In 2007, John and a friend, Mike Taylor, drove a thirty year old Renault 5 across Europe and the Sahara in the annual Plymouth to Banjul banger rally - an adventure through eight countries and across three hundred miles of sand. Their trip raised almost £10,000 for an orphanage project in West Africa.

The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder came third in the Guardian newspaper's 'Not the Booker Prize,' and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. A second novel, The Coincidence Authority is due out in March 2013, and John is working on a third novel - The Apocalypse and the Whale.

In September 2012, John and Sue made a 'heart-of-darkness' trip to the Ujung Kulon national park in Indonesia and became possibly the only living Britons ever to see a Javan rhino and her calf. They are still smug about this.

You can keep in touch with John on his occasional blog: http://notablebrain.blogspot.com/

Product Description

Review

This is an absorbing and unusual novel suffused with intelligence, charm and humanity and I highly recommend it. (THE BOOKSELLER)

This story twists like a pretzel, the author teases and tantalises the reader, and it's delightfully unexpected. (THE TIMES)

A love story that is also a story of ideas...The love story between Thomas and Azalea is touching and gently written. (THE METRO)

Book Description

For fans of Harold Fry, The Adjustment Bureau, Mark Watson, and Mark Haddon, here is a cleverly written mystery about fate, circumstance, destiny, and coincidence from Costa Award shortlisted author, J.W. Ironmonger. This quirky read is hard to put down and spans philosophy, conflict, relationships and romance.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Toomanybooksnotenoughtime on 22 Sep 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time.
The story operates on many levels: on one hand it's a boy meets girl story; on the other hand this is the story of a woman whose life has been so beset by coincidence that she has to believe that things happen for a reason. Her search for validation of this leads her to Thomas, who is statistically disinclined to believe in an authority directing coincidence.

So there is romance and there is philosophy but more than that, there is Africa. For me, the book truly comes alive in Africa, whether in the domestic rituals described, the scenes of conflict or even just the journeys. There is a vividness, a tension and a longing which drew me in and kept me absorbed.

A strong quirky interesting novel from an author I will be watching out for in the future
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michaela on 5 Oct 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a compelling page turning book, with a cleverly woven plot and a range of endearing characters, which is why I have given it a five star rating. However, for me the major shortcoming is the author's woeful grasp of English geography. Early on in the narrative we have a beach described as being "in North Devon, near Bude", which is a bit like saying Bideford near Cornwall. By page 127 our heroes the delightfully named Azalea and statistician Thomas Post taking a trip to North Devon to visit the place of Azalea's mother's untimely demise, Millook, just south of Widemouth Bay. Despite having an EX (Exeter) postcode, Bude is firmly within Cornwall, as are Millook and Widemouth. My advice to any author is: if you are going to use real places in a work of fiction, at least take the trouble to get your facts right or have an editor who can point you in the right direction. Notwithstanding this quibble, I would thoroughly recommend this book for its originality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Valerie L. Pate on 4 May 2014
Format: Hardcover
Someone had said that this book was a bit like “The Rosie Project”, and so, being a huge fan of that novel I rushed to the library and reserved myself a copy right away. The bad news is, it is nothing like “The Rosie Project”, but on the flipside, I am still glad I read it.

With a name like Ironmonger (a real or assumed identity, I am not sure which), you’re probably used to standing out from the crowd. This quirky, tale, about a philosopher who prides himself on being a great authority on the subject of coincidence and the girl who comes to find him, is anything but ordinary. The girl character, Azalea Lewis, wishes to know if her life has really been a series of odd coincidences or if she is mired in some inescapable fate. The philosopher character, Thomas Post, believes that people cling to the idea of fate; seeing patterns in completely randomized events. Azalea’s tale begins to shake Post’s beliefs to their core, however, and we, the readers, are along for the ride.

Told through a series of flashbacks and remembered stories, this book definitely holds your attention. There are some laughable moments, but mostly the book presents in a serious, albeit off-beat fashion, sort of like the unraveling of some obscure black comedy.

Very interesting indeed, and above all, original.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Deana Morris on 30 Aug 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My book arrived promptly and turned out to be hardback so, considering its excellent condition, it was a real bargain.

I enjoyed the story immensely. A window into a world we often forget, where people live their lives against the threat of mindless brutality of the Lord's Resistance Army in the Congo, Uganda, Sudan badlands. If that sounds harrowing, and it undoubtedly is for those who live it, this tale is tempered by a love story between an awkward academic and his mysterious foundling colleague. And then we have the complexities of coincidence plaited in. A bit like an Arran knit scarf, if that makes any sense.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alison TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Sep 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a really interesting book that is quirky without being trite. The story focuses on Azalea, a girl whose life is plagued by coincidences. There are several threads that are intertwined - there are fictional and factual threads that cover philosophy, (fate and determinism in particular), Ugandan politics and mathematical probability.

It's a four-star read for me because the Ugandan politics sometimes sits too apart from the character story, there is one chapter where it reads quite densely but it's more blended later in the book. I also wasn't totally satisfied with the ending, I guess that I shouldn't have been surprised how it was left unresolved but I still expected a stronger finish.

I did enjoy the book very much, it threaded together so many interesting elements while being both serious and humorous at varying times. It was different and I would look for other books by this author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sandy S. on 9 April 2014
Format: Hardcover
COINCIDENCE is a fictional storyline intertwined with a little bit of historical reality that focuses on the mathematical probability of events, chances and coincidences shaping the life of Azalea Yves Folley Lewis. The novel is told through flashbacks, memories, recounting of and current day events from just prior to Azalea’s birth to the end of the story.

COINCIDENCE is a story about the probability that the life altering events in one woman’s life all occur on the same date every ten years-Midsummer’s Day June 21. Thirty years ago, on June 21, a young child of approximately three to four years old is found wandering the empty fairgrounds and her mother’s whereabouts is never known-until a badly decomposed body washes up on shore more than one year later-but the two events are never connected-until now.

J.W. Ironmonger pulls the reader into the search for the truth. We follow as Azalea Yves’s young life is thrown into turmoil –from the death of her mother; to a life in Uganda with her adopted parents; and a struggle to survive in a country at war with itself. At thirty years of age, Azalea will ‘accidently’ meet a man who studies the probability of coincidences and they begin a relationship based on chances and the what-ifs and whys of life. We are witness to Azalea’s struggles to uncover the past-a past she knows nothing about-but a past that is interconnected to everything and everyone in her life.

COINCIDENCE is a philosophical look at chances and probabilities. The storyline is slow to develop as J.W. Ironmonger builds on the early events that are the catalyst of Azalea’s life.
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