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3.2 out of 5 stars86
3.2 out of 5 stars
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Mr Phillips, a 50-something year old accountant, lives in suburban London with Mrs Phillips. They have two sons, and live a fairly routine life. Every weekday morning Mr Phillips gets up, gets ready for work and walks down the street to get the train into the office. There he works with his “horrible immediate boss Mr Mill” and his “horrible ultimate boss Mr Wilkins”. He is an active member of the Wellesley Crescent Neighbourhood Watch Association, and quite often has inappropriate dreams about his secretary at Wilkins & Co., Karen. But this morning is different – because Mr Phillips is not going to the office. Where he is going, and why is the story that unfolds for the reader.

We get to hear all about Mr Phillips and his life as thoughts experienced by Mr Phillips from the time he wakes up. There are a lot of random thoughts, and a lot of statistics and calculations that Mr Phillips (a man eager to use his accounting skills at any time) works out, and I did wonder at times what the point of the novel really was going to be; was there even any point? (Oh, now I sound like Mr Phillips).

I think by the end of it all Mr Phillips has realised that nothing in life is ever going to turn out quite how you might have expected it, and you might as well just head through each door as it comes to you. A pleasant and often humorous ramble through life as experienced by one middle-aged ordinary man.
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on 23 December 2013
Like other reviewers, I caught on to John Lancaster after reading (and enjoying) Capital. Unlike Capital's main characters, Mr Phillips is neither portrayed as a hero or a villain, but as a rather inadequate character whose mind is preoccupied with sex and statistics.

Although the novel is introspective and largely mundane, it is lifted by some episodes, including a hilarious account of a Neighbourhood Watch meeting. The bank robbery scene on the other hand seemed to add little more than to a sense of drama to an otherwise slow plot.

Nevertheless, Mr Phillips retains interest in providing a perceptive insight to a flawed human character.
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on 20 May 2013
A lot of this book takes the form of the main charachter's thoughts at a time when he has found himself at a crossroads that he didn't choose. In a way it is a middle aged Ferris Bueller's Day Off. To be honest I think it is probably a good idea to take a day off to sort your thoughts out and look at the ordinary from a different angle but maybe I don't need to know everything about everyone else who does the same. His obsessions with statistics and sex are maybe not the most interesting for everyone but they are realistic. If this had been the first book of his I had read then I might not read another. But I enjoyed Capital (my first and only other Lanchester) and Mr Phillips is sympathetic in some ways so I will keep an open mind and try again.
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on 7 January 2004
I think reviewers who dislike this book have completely missed the point. Its not about how accurate office life is depicted, or whether the correct accountancy and word processing programmes are name checked, its about how out of control we feel about modern life and how this is reconciled in somebody's head. I first read this book when my accountancy career took a bit of a wobble, and always return to it for a bit of comfort! It is absolutely convincing on the consistency, the character, and the expression of Mr Phillips thoughts. I particularly enjoyed the calculation of the chances of dying compared to winning the national lottery. Its also stunningly accurate in respect of men under stress thinking constantly about sex (sorry ladies) and also on the sheer pointlessness of about 90% of modern life. As this review appears to be becoming more about me than the book, I'll stop right here!
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on 13 November 2013
Having read a book by the same author ( Capital) that was excellent I purchased this book expecting the same quality. However, this is a rambling story full of middle age male hang ups and little else. Very disappointed!
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on 3 March 2016
Ecstatic quotes from respectable sources on the cover lead me to expect something special from this one (although I picked it up for free in a hotel library so I can't complain about wasting my money).
What I got was a collection of tired clichés about a white collar worker who spends one day walking on the wild side. He's an accountant (of course) which means that he's mild-mannered, sexually frustrated and spends all his time making calculations in his head. That's about it as far as characterisation is concerned.
Having been made redundant on the Friday, he heads into town on the Monday and tries to think of things to do. He goes to watch a porn film (which he finds mechanical and unerotic - how original...), he follows a minor celebrity down the street, and does various other desperately uninteresting things. And then at the end it just stops. No climax, no resolution, no punchline. A couple of amusing scenes near the start break the tedium, admittedly.
Imagine a cross between Diary of a Nobody, Falling Down and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, but with less wit, insight or excitement.
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on 8 October 2013
Well crafted narrative about the small and large, good and bad things that happen in someone's day. It was so-so and kept me engaged but I didn't identify with the protagonist which spoiled my enjoyment of the happenings.
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on 16 October 2013
I found this self indulgent and tiresome. Obsession with sex may be appropriate for Mr Phillips but how pathetic! Could just be I don't relate to male life-crises or his view of his sad little world.
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on 17 June 2014
The only fresh thing about Mr Phillips is the day. It is the first day of his redundancy. The rest of Mr Phillips is old hat observation, flimsy philosophising and soft fantasies about unobtainable women.
The day of Mr Phillips lacks the amusement of The Diary of a Nobody (Grossmith) and is bereft of the originality and insights found in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (Nobbs). Indeed, Mr Phillips is in want of a Mr Phillips with character development and dramatic high points.
Mr Phillips arrives back at his front door after a day drifting round London, with “He has no idea what will happen next.” The reader has no reason to care.
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Mr Phillips sets out for work one day – only he is not going to work as he has lost his job but has not yet told his family. Instead he has a sort of Bloomsday round London as he wanders in search of solace. He muses on his life which seems to have brought him many disappointments. He is obsessed with sex (of which he has never had enough) and double entry book-keeping which has filled his working years.

He gets caught up in a series of mini-adventures. He lusts over a TV celebrity and even gets involved in a bank robbery.

So what happens? Best not to say except there is a good redemptive ending….
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