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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia is the new black
I came by this book through the TV series - as ever the book is even better than a great TV effort. It just encapsulates everything about the 70's to a tee. Modern writers write with a real passion for recent histort ( David Nicholls - 80's: Steve Horsfall - 70's / 80's). The past offers fond memories and this book ignites them all. Jonathan Coe is a great writer and I'm...
Published on 11 July 2005

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting
You know how you pick up a book with expectation for the type of read it's going to be...well this one was very much a tony parsons/nick hornby oh-so-familiar stroll down memory lane for 40-somethings like me with a few laughs at our own expense and taste in music/food/clothes etc with just a little love interest thrown in.

But it wasn't like that at all...it...
Published on 26 Oct 2006 by Mrs. Amanda J. Volley


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia is the new black, 11 July 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The "Rotters' Club" (Paperback)
I came by this book through the TV series - as ever the book is even better than a great TV effort. It just encapsulates everything about the 70's to a tee. Modern writers write with a real passion for recent histort ( David Nicholls - 80's: Steve Horsfall - 70's / 80's). The past offers fond memories and this book ignites them all. Jonathan Coe is a great writer and I'm now going to buy The Closed Circle with great anticipation.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just a really good read, 23 Dec 2004
This review is from: The "Rotters' Club" (Paperback)
This book is excellent, and I would really recommend it. Like all Coe's books it has that nice, slightly bittersweet feel to it. In this case, the story does a great job of blending it's considerable dose of nostalgia with immediately recognisable characters. For those able to remember the times covered by the story it should be a wryly humourous reminder of life way back when. On the other hand, for anyone younger the story should still have more than enough resonance, dealing with all the emotional trials and tribulations you'd expect from a coming of age tale. Short of re-telling the story, what more can I say? This is just a really well-written, moving and enjoyable read. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Movingly nostalgic, 22 Jun 2005
By 
jfp2006 (PARIS/France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The "Rotters' Club" (Paperback)
I have just reread "The Rotters' Club" in preparation for the sequel, "The Closed Circle" - to which I am at present immensely looking forward -, and found it even better second time around. Jonathan Coe's sixth novel is a meticulously observed evocation of the emotional tumults of adolescence with its associated peer- pressure, and a wonderful trip down Memory Lane back to the seventies, with "NME" and "Sounds", Yes albums, Blue Nun wine [once the height of chic!] and anaglypta wallpaper all prominently featured [the dust-jacket of the original hardback was designed to look - and feel - like anaglypta.] Extremely nostalgic for anyone who was an adolescent in the seventies, with the added pluses of the 62 bus, "Barbarella's", "The Grapevine" et al for anyone who was an adolescent in Birmingham at that time
By turns farcial and moving, the novel's great strength lies in the different moods it combines. The words from Henry Fielding's "Amelia", "moments in life worth purchasing with worlds", introduce a masterly stream-of-consciousness section at the end of the novel, giving the reader privileged access to the combined angst and euphoria of one of the central characters, Ben Trotter. This kind of writing from inside the character's head, as it were, piling impressions upon impressions, was presumably outside the scope of the television adaptation of the novel, which I have not seen. As a result of not having a television. But with novels like this, who needs to watch television?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly satisfying must read novel., 11 Jan 2006
By 
Stephen Newton (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The "Rotters' Club" (Paperback)
There’s something magical about teenage years in The Rotters’ Club, thanks to that privileged public school. It’s an intellectual thing that can’t help but make you wish your school had been more ideas driven and school life more rounded and safely challenging. But for all that, this is an extremely accessible book that reads as a balanced, nostalgic but not romantic and incredibly broad portrait of a time I’m just too young to remember.
Like John King’s Human Punk, The Rotters’ Club captures the pop cultural experience of the 1970s (though while King’s book is set at the outbreak of punk among suburban proletariat, Coe is just before the revolution hits the middle class). IRA terrorism, the rise of the National Front and the industrial strife that destroyed Old Labour all impact on the very real characters’ lives to create a truly satisfying must read novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Does narrative serve any purpose? I wonder about that.", 3 Oct 2005
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The "Rotters' Club" (Paperback)
A novel of enormous reach, Coe attempts to give epic significance to the 1970's in Birmingham, England. Abandoning the extremely tight, limited focus he employed in The House of Sleep, Coe here employs a huge cast of characters, eight or ten of them teenagers (somewhat difficult to keep track of because they are not yet fully formed or unique), along with their parents and their parents' lovers, their brothers and sisters and the brothers' and sisters' lovers, and their teachers and some of their lovers.
Starting with a meeting in 2003 between the adult children of some of the characters from the 1970's, the novel switches back and forth in time through several different points of view, offering insights about what has happened in the interim. The teenagers' lives are depicted in minute detail as they work on school magazines, collect new rock albums, create their own bands, score with girlfriends, and do all the superficial things teenagers do the world over, told from the well-developed, if not particularly compelling, perspective of the `70's.
Coe can be very funny, and his view of teenage life is often amusing, but the teenagers also reveal their intolerance of differences, their casual cruelty, doubts about religion, ignorance of the political system, and general insulation from the forces which are shaping their world. Their parents' lives are completely separate from their children's, dealing with union vs. management issues, Labour vs. Tory political goals, a stagnant economy, resentment over immigration, IRA activity, some anti-semitism, and a belief that their dreams probably will not come true. These huge and important themes seem a bit jarring when juxtaposed against the superficial, day-to-day activities of the teenagers who are the main characters.
Coe has enormous, very obvious talents, but this book feels fragmented, with too many characters pursuing too many different ends, the ultimate goal seeming to be the recreation of the entire sociopolitical history of 1970's Birmingham. At the end of 400+ pages of this book, Coe himself states that a second volume will continue this story, perhaps the author's acknowledgment that his reach has exceeded his grasp with this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous!, 24 Jun 2006
By 
G. D. Griffin (Redditch, Warks United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The "Rotters' Club" (Paperback)
Unlike the last reviewer, I was brought up in Birmingham, around the very areas that are described in the book, the Longbridge plant etc. Little bit too young to remember the Birmingham Pub Bombings but from the stories I have been told while growing up, the feelings described are extremely accurate, and have their residual effect on the community even now.

I flicked throught this book at the airport, saw familiar place names, and bought it for my holiday read. How glad I was. I love Jonathan Coe's writing style, and have managed to get through most of his books. This one is my favourite, although if you like this one, try the House of Sleep.

Its a story of a rite of passage, its evocative will strike a cord with most readers, no matter what your age or where you come from - but if you come from anywhere near the Longbridge Plant you HAVE to read this book!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than TV, 19 Feb 2005
This review is from: The "Rotters' Club" (Paperback)
I came to this book after watching the very impressive TV series but I need to state that the novel is so much more than its serialisation and should be read regardless of familiarity of the plot.
Coe writes brilliantly. He conceives repressed late adolescence like no other contemporary writer, particularly from the perspective of class conflict. Yes there are the drips of nostalgia - Home Brew, Blue Nun, prog-rock et al but what you get from the novel and don't from the series is a number of perspectives, each written fom a first person point of view from the other main protagonists.
Additionally the series missed out two main sections of the novel - neither of which I'll give away here but the novel's final part, 'Green Coaster'is one of the most sensitive, erotically charged pieces of stream of conscious writing I've encountered in post-war fiction.
Read it, see how the TV series had to exclude and re-order events and you'll develop a ravenous appetite for the sequel, 'The Closed Circle'
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Trip Down 70s Memory Lane, 15 Dec 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The "Rotters' Club" (Paperback)
I loved this book. Suddenly, life at a large comprehensive school, the reprehensable behaviour of its pupils and their parents seem crazier, funnier and more poignant than things seemed at the time. It's a kind of literary soundtrack to the 1970s and I can't wait to read the next installment.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting, 26 Oct 2006
By 
This review is from: The "Rotters' Club" (Paperback)
You know how you pick up a book with expectation for the type of read it's going to be...well this one was very much a tony parsons/nick hornby oh-so-familiar stroll down memory lane for 40-somethings like me with a few laughs at our own expense and taste in music/food/clothes etc with just a little love interest thrown in.

But it wasn't like that at all...it was darker, deeper, the comedy stifled and no mention of slade...quite what it was - other a nasty poke in the thick hide of horrendously dull, self obsessed adolscents - I have no idea. Perhaps this book sums up being young in the 1970s all too well...but prefer my air-brushed memories.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it, 13 Oct 2005
By 
Miss C E Kenny (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The "Rotters' Club" (Paperback)
i just finished reading this book about 10 minutes ago. i really enjoyed it. I felt attached to the characters and the constant change of protagonist and style of writing kept it interesting and original.
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The "Rotters' Club" by Jonathan Coe (Paperback - 2 Dec 2004)
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