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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irresistable
A must read for any English grammar school boy aged 40-48, this may not be Coe's finest novel but it's a favourite for its comic timing, superb characterisation and = above all = for the way it nails perfectly the attitudes and atmosphere of middle class school life in the 1970s. 10 out of 10 - see me.
Published on 11 Nov. 2009 by Dilberto

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rotter's Club
Some good and quite funny parts. Overall uneven, the characters confusing and not empathetic. I wouldn't recommend it to my book club.
Published on 9 Nov. 2012 by Mrs. E. M. A. Towers-Evans


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irresistable, 11 Nov. 2009
By 
Dilberto (Deepest Darkest Central London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Rotters' Club (Paperback)
A must read for any English grammar school boy aged 40-48, this may not be Coe's finest novel but it's a favourite for its comic timing, superb characterisation and = above all = for the way it nails perfectly the attitudes and atmosphere of middle class school life in the 1970s. 10 out of 10 - see me.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Resonates - if you're an English 50-something, 12 Dec. 2011
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Paul R. Norton "cutsey-cuddly" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rotters' Club (Paperback)
Firstly - read this book first, then 'The Closed Circle.'

Secondly - read this book. If, like me, you were a teenager in the midlands in the 70's, this book is going to speak to you in so many ways. Coe's character studies are complex and beautifully drawn. Within a few pages your estimation of any one of the characters will be turned completely around. He always keeps you guessing right up the the final chapter.

After you are finished with this book, you'll automatically want to move on to the sequel 'The Closed Circle.' Although a worthy book, it doesn't quite have the punch or the mystique of 'The Rotter's Club'

Ben Trotter - my man!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Happiest Days?, 13 Sept. 2011
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rotters' Club (Paperback)
An often hilarious but at times very moving story of a group of schoolfriends growing up in Birmingham in the 1970s. As someone who was born right at the end of the decade, I just about remember some of the things discussed in the book (Bernie Inns, Blue Nun, home brewed light ale, wood chip wallpaper) - Coe brings all these and more to life brilliantly. Historically, this is a fascinating book, covering the Birmingham pub bombings, the gradual collapse of the grammar school system, the terrible strikes which indirectly led to Thatcher's rise to power, and a great deal of 1970s popular culture. Coe's characters are vivid and on the whole fairly believable and often likeable. He's captured a great deal about the environment of boys' schools very well (I don't think things have changed that much in certain respects!) and creates some very memorable characters: Douglas, the Union leader's son with a liking for wealthy women, desperate even as a teenager to become a journalist, quiet Philip with his love of his city and his misplaced musical ambitions, Steve, the West Indian boy who suffers mildly racist taunts but rises to become a school prefect (until a nasty prank puts an end to his ambitions), and shy, dreamy Benjamin, the 'hero' in as far as the novel has one. As always, Coe also is a brilliant creator of female characters. I particularly liked the feisty Claire, though (as she did) I found beautiful Cicely unbearably pretentious and selfish. Coe manages deftly to blend seriousness and humour (for example, the hilarious accounts of incidents at the school contrast with the death of Benjamin's sister Lois's boyfriend in a pub bombing incident, or the nasty side of some of the workers' strikes). And Coe also sets up a few intriguing mysteries, meaning that one has to read his sequel.

All in all a great read - if I give it four stars not five it is because I found Benjamin a little bit of a drip (and wasn't convinced by his musical ambitions - would any boy really plan to be a serious composer without being able to play any musical instrument very well?). But all in all a wonderful, funny, moving book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile even if you weren't around in the 70s, 17 Aug. 2008
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rotters' Club (Paperback)
As someone who wasn't even born in the 70's, I'd avoided this book initially thinking I'd find little to relate to in it. Luckily I changed my mind as I'd been denying myself an enjoyable read. Although it would probably be particularly enjoyed by someone who has first hand memories of 1970s Britain, younger readers should not be put off.

It's a story mostly - though not exclusively, about adolescents, but it's most definitely aimed at an adult readership. Mostly well written and easy to read, Coe does a great job at combining humour with tragedy, never letting the former cheapen the latter. This novel had far more depth than I'd expected and does a splendid job of capturing the essence of both a decade and of the universal experience of adolescence.

The only real disappointment came in the final section, which is devoted to a single sentence stream of consciousness style monologue by one of the central characters. No matter how good the author, this is a technique I really dislike, always feeling like being beaten over the head with text. There was a good reason why the full stop was invented! It didn't even have interesting subject matter, focussing rather too much on the sexual conquest of the teenage narrator. It was a real shame as it let down a strong book.

However, I'd strongly recommend the book on the strength of the first two sections - which make up most of the novel. I'll also be planning to read the sequel which the inconclusive ending demands.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable read - the cover is easily the weakest link, 17 Mar. 2012
By 
Christopher Brown (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rotters' Club (Paperback)
I'm a firm believer that you can judge a book by its cover. Just picture a novel with a pink stiletto and a glass of champagne on the cover. I find the covers on most of the Coe stock to be quite offputting, and rather misleading as to the content, but enough of this.

The book itself is a joy to read, I recommend it thoroughly. As usual I don't like to give away anything of the plot, but there are other reviews if that's what you want.

The long stream of consciousness final chapter is quite excellent and provides smiles and tears for the reader, a rare treat indeed. I ordered my second Jonathan Coe as soon as I finnished this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rotter's Club, 9 Nov. 2012
By 
Mrs. E. M. A. Towers-Evans "dodopuffin" (N. Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rotters' Club (Kindle Edition)
Some good and quite funny parts. Overall uneven, the characters confusing and not empathetic. I wouldn't recommend it to my book club.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dark nostalgic read, 30 Sept. 2013
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rotters' Club (Paperback)
This is the first Jonathan Coe book I've read and it won't be the last.
He sets his story in the 1970s where he manages to tread a careful line between nostalgia and sentimentality. The setting will feel familiar to anyone aged 50 and over but don't let that put you off if you are younger as you'll get a good taste of life as a teenage boy in Birmingham either way.
It's lovely to revel in the interactions between the various characters, most of whom feel like people I already know (or knew?). The novel also has a strong sense of time and place to the benefit of the plot and characters.
Aside from the plot and the characters, interest is retained by following the story using various unusual techniques - a "lost" story found many years later; a retrospective written in 1999 by one of the characters; and one or two news articles from the school magazine.
I enjoyed this book very much until the last chapter which I found to be smug and way too tidy - I would have preferred to have more unanswered questions giving me something to think about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nostalgia with a serious edge, 31 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The Rotters' Club (Kindle Edition)
Being the same age as the main protagonists and growing up not far form Brum this book was incredibly nostalgic for me. it had a fine balance of humour and seriousness and perfectly conjured the adolescent angst i still remember. the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was the slightly lumpy time shorts.
A recommended read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A hotchpotch, but a fun hotchpotch., 29 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The Rotters' Club (Paperback)
A good read, but not a great one. I ordered this book on a whim, the title giving nothing away. OK, as a 50 year-old ex-grammar school child I am in the demographic most likely to empathise with the 1970's growing-pains which provide the energy for most of the constituent stories but I dont know, don't we all find their own school memories more pertinent and entertaining than other peoples? Annoyingly, just as I was warming to one set of protagonists the chapter would end and the book cast me back to another story suspended from earlier. As a result I did have some trouble keeping up with who was who and what they were doing/had done to whom. I recommend making margin notes as you go along as an aide memoire for later. This said I enjoyed the book and reading of the hopes and fears of its characters in an often harsh decade. Not sure I'm fussed about reading the sequel, but Jonathan Coe is a writer I will surely return to.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious, endearing and funny, but without the sentimentalist claptrap, 21 July 2008
This review is from: The Rotters' Club (Paperback)
A thoroughly captivating read that successfully marries 1970s real events - political and social - with a fictional coming of age story. It appals and delights with regular turns in plot, but crucially, always leaves you wishing you had more time to read the next chapter straight away.

As my first experience of Jonathan Coe I was enthralled by his wit and attention to detail. I am particularly pleased that none of the characters are overtly likeable, but the reader is left to enjoy the flow of watching events unfold. Often the reader is moved from third to first person narrative and at times it reads like a diary (indeed sometimes it is just that) or the thoughts in someone's head, whilst for the main part the story is told through narration.

A book of this nature is, inherently, a subjective story from the mind of the author so it is only a personal niggle that some loose ends are left untidy. I made my wife jump when I thumped the book down after the last page out of frustration; but I guess that just makes a great read. It's not often that I'm left with so many lasting impressions from a story set in the 1970s.

To say more would give away too much of the plot, but this has a worthy place on my recommendations list.
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The Rotters' Club by Jonathan Coe (Paperback - 19 May 2008)
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