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43 Reviews
5 star:
 (7)
4 star:
 (11)
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2 star:
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars England's greatest exponent of the novel of ideas
Julian Barnes has regularly turned out novels breaching the boundaries between fiction and essay, lolling around in ideas and dissecting them as an essayist would but through the machinations of plot.

The genius of the man lies in the fact that despite his leanings towards the essay his works exist as fully-fledged fictional works. He is arguably the greatest...
Published on 2 April 2009 by Ian Shine

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Old England had lost its history, and therefore, since memory is identity, had lost all sense of itself."
In this witty satire of English traditions, values, and national identity, the eccentric Sir Jack Pitman gathers a staff of "forward-thinking" consultants and young executives to create the ultimate theme park. Sir Jack intends to relocate (or recreate, if he must) all of England's important tourist sites in one location--the Isle of Wight--creating a "Disneyland" of...
Published on 14 May 2007 by Mary Whipple


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A promising satire let down by it's loss of focus, 19 Mar. 2006
This review is from: England England (Paperback)
The idea is fairly simple.... Recreate England on the Isle of Wight. The problem with the book is the fact the prose fails to hide effectively that Barnes is ranting- Satires like Catch 22 are subtle, and the Handmaids tale even more so, but this feels like a waste of time and massive failure.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brave attempt by the brilliant non-conformist Barnes., 28 Sept. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: England England (Paperback)
If you have never read Julian Barnes' work before then this is probably not the book to start with.
Barnes adopts a more 'conventional' novelist's style in this book, though there are a few appearances of more 'Parrot'-like prose. Barnesian analysis of reality, history, knowledge, belief and human emotion continues unabated,though it would seem that for some it gets in the way of 'plot', a typically un-Barnesian vehicle.
If philosophical debate is your thing, then Barnes is your man. If you didn't like this book, then come back to it after dabbling in '10.5 Chapters' and 'Metroland', and it should make more enjoyable reading. If you don't like either of those, pick up a Bill Bryson book and chuckle along with the masses...
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1.0 out of 5 stars This was awful, 8 Dec. 2013
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Shoe addict (Braddan, Isle of Man Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: England, England (Kindle Edition)
I've never read any Julian Barnes books and if they're all like this, I won't be reading any more. I read just over a chapter and stopped. If I'd continued I might have made more sense of what the book what about but after the first chapter described the early years of a young girl with a distracted father, the second chapter leapt onto something completely different. I had no ideas who the characters were or how they related to the first chapter. It then moved onto very graphic amounts of sexual activity which I didn't find relevant, tasteful or interesting. Rubbish really.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read it slowly, take your time, savour it, enjoy every word., 3 Jan. 2000
This review is from: England England (Paperback)
This is a terrific book - not an easy read, but, like a Christmas dinner, a meal to be savoured. Enjoy Barnes' wonderful use of English. Look at each of the main characters individually, then see how they fit together. Treat the different scenes in the same way. When you've finished (Do go to the end - don't leave the last 10 pages unread) put it on your shelf and regard it as a friend. Then tackle "A Man in Full" and see how you get on with that!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars England,England, 13 Feb. 2009
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This review is from: England England (Paperback)
Typically immature Barnes satire which only amuse those with similar limited perception of Englishness. Cleverness provides a few amusing moments but lack of other faculties means that it rarely goes beyond being superficial.
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5.0 out of 5 stars heavenly, 25 Jun. 2014
This review is from: England, England (Paperback)
better than silent meditation .. short stories to drop little lights into the dark corners of your subconscious .. yes we have all had these conversations .. at some time , somewhere .. but Julian barnes has put it into words for us all ..
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little convoluted, 12 Feb. 2012
This review is from: England, England (Paperback)
Maybe it is my fault rather than the author's, but I didn't find this book funny AT ALL - it didn't raise even a glimmer of a smile from start to finish. I really can't understand why it's billed as 'Wickedly funny' by the NY Times. It's an interesting idea, and well-written, but it didn't hold my interest unfortunately, and by the time I reached the last (short-ish) section, I was thoroughly bored and didn't really care what happened. The characters didn't really draw me in which is another reason why I lost interest in what happened to Martha or Paul or anyone else. Sadly not a success for me, but I can quite see that others might view this completely differently and get much more out of it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 14 Jan. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: England England (Paperback)
Maybe my expectations were just too high, but when I bought this book I thought the plot sounded hilarious. Kind of like a fictitious Bill Bryson. What a letdown! It was only because I was stuck on a long train journey with nothing else to do that I persevered. After the first 100 pages I started to warm to it just a little, but that quickly disappeared again. This is a parody to a parody: so ridiculous that it really doesn't tickle your senses anymore. I suppose it is an art to create characters that are so overdone and colourless at the same time, but frankly, I found it a waste of time.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, 17 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: England, England (Kindle Edition)
I quite liked the storyline. In fact I ended up wistfully hoping for the Anglia so convincingly portrayed at the end.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious nonsense, 6 Oct. 2002
This review is from: England England (Paperback)
It was a real struggle to stick with this book to the end. The combination of uninteresting characters and dull storyline put paid to any enjoyment that might have been found within its pages.
The book is basically the story of Martha, professional cynic. Each of the three parts of the book detail episodes in her life- the short first and last parts are about her childhood and old age respectively, and how her surroundings change with the passage of time - there may be some allegory to be drawn here but I wasn't interested enough to think about it more deeply. The longer middle part chronicles her involvement with the book's other main players- Sir Jack, egotistical self-made multimillionaire, and Paul, wimpy professional yes-man.
The first and last parts are the most interesting, and merit at least a couple of stars. The middle part is dull beyond belief. It's based around Sir Jack's magnum opus- a vast theme park based on the idea of 'England' which takes over the Isle of Wight and becomes more 'England' than 'England' itself, resulting in the downfall of the mainland after the island's independence. There's some heavy-handed philosophising about the nature of 'replica' and 'reality' with the involvement of some minor players to spin out Barnes' amateurish navel-gazing. It's impossible to really care about any of the characters and the theme park, which had the potential to be an interesting story by itself, merely becomes the background to the characters' tedious self-involvement. Even Sir Jack's unusual personal predilections don't hold the interest for any longer than it takes to read about them. On the whole, not recommended.
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England England by Julian Barnes (Paperback - 18 Mar. 2005)
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