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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eleven out of ten
Somewhat out of character for a bloke who can have a novel on the go for well in excess of a month, I lay in the garden and devoured Eleven in a weekend. I attribute this partly to the weather, partly to the fact that my girlfriend was otherwise detained but mostly to the quality of Watson's writing.

Anyone familiar with Watson as a comedian will be aware that...
Published on 2 Aug 2010 by J Davis

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice book
It was a nice book and an interesting read, did make me think about my actions and how they impact on others. I don't think it will win any awards but I would recommend it if you want a nice, simple read that will make you smile in parts and gasp in shock in others. Pippa is such a fantastic character and is really easy to connect to. Passed the book on to a friend who...
Published on 24 Aug 2011 by LeahSmith


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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eleven out of ten, 2 Aug 2010
By 
J Davis - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Eleven (Paperback)
Somewhat out of character for a bloke who can have a novel on the go for well in excess of a month, I lay in the garden and devoured Eleven in a weekend. I attribute this partly to the weather, partly to the fact that my girlfriend was otherwise detained but mostly to the quality of Watson's writing.

Anyone familiar with Watson as a comedian will be aware that his appeal is down to more than just him 'being funny'; he's humble enough to endear himself without being too self-deprecating and his insight can challenge your thoughts without seeming preachy. These aspects of his personality are naturally evident in his writing.

Eleven is the story of eleven people with little in common other than their geographic location and a single string of related events, invisible to everyone but the omniscient reader. It's also the story of one of those eleven having his arm twisted into being a better person, having a tangible positive effect on his world while around him the aftershocks of a previous bad decision rumble on, more disastrously than he would have ever imagined.

It's a romanticised view, to some extent, and Watson applies a degree of artistic licence but it remains honest because it undoubtedly reflects exactly the sort of chain reaction of actions and consequences that is going on around us all the time, undetectable from the viewpoint of someone on the inside looking out.

Ultimately, Eleven serves as a touching illustration of how decisions we make or fail to make can affect ourselves and others in ways we couldn't dream possible, causing you to ask yourself the simultaneous questions 'Could I be better?', 'Should I be better?' and 'Why do I bother?' Sometimes warming, sometimes upsetting, its humour is present but subtle and its insight is greater than any comedian has the right to possess.

I fear I haven't done Eleven justice but that's why Watson is the successful writer, rather than me. He could retire today and spend the rest of his life looking back at what is already a superb storytelling career. But I hope he doesn't.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice book, 24 Aug 2011
This review is from: Eleven (Paperback)
It was a nice book and an interesting read, did make me think about my actions and how they impact on others. I don't think it will win any awards but I would recommend it if you want a nice, simple read that will make you smile in parts and gasp in shock in others. Pippa is such a fantastic character and is really easy to connect to. Passed the book on to a friend who loved it !
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read!, 19 April 2012
This review is from: Eleven (Paperback)
I have really been bowled over by the style in which 'Eleven' has been written. It seems a very different and unorthodox way to structure a story but it seems to work (and I'll be honest, the style was a little off-putting after a few chapters).

The main character Xavier is very hard to connect with at the start but as the story progresses into the chain of events, it becomes a book that you just simply cannot put down! I very much started to enthuse with Xavier's character and the more that started to unravel about his past the more I decided to enjoy the story and Xavier's "ways".

I first started reading this book last year and because I thought the story line was going nowhere in particular I became largely dissapointed and stopped reading it a quarter of the way through. But having had a day off from work today, I decided to give it another go and my opinion has completely changed having finished it over the past few hours!

Overall it's got quite a dark theme and punchy storyline and with the witty humour incorporated within the book in small doses, it becomes a real treat and find for any reader.

4 stars, well deserved!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 19 July 2011
This review is from: Eleven (Paperback)
I don't know why I bought this book. I knew who Mark Watson was, and I loved his comedy, but I honestly don't know how I got from his stand-up to buying this book.

But I'm very glad I did!

From the few reviews I'd read online, I was expecting a laugh-out-loud book. Instead, I found myself completely enthralled and moved by the story almost immediately. It's funny too, but mostly I was gripped by the story, how well the pieces fit together, how Watson's web spun out, starting with one little event. The language is beautiful, I'd catch myself re-reading bits just because I loved the wording so much.

And how it all comes together, the journey for Xavier (and all the other characters) from the start to the last page.

It's just a beautiful book! The only reason it took me so long to finish it was that I kept putting it down because I didn't want it to end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read which opens up lots of avenues for thought, 30 Sep 2011
By 
davidT "Omnivore" (Hildesheim, Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Eleven (Paperback)
This reminded me a little of Hunters and Gatherers (Geoff Nicholson), which also plays on the theme of disparate people bumping into each other, though in a slightly more surreal way.
In Eleven, the whole narrative stems from a single action not performed - or rather partially performed. Xavier Ireland, a promising London-based Australian DJ on the graveyard midnight-4am shift destined for greater things - intervenes when a boy is being bullied, but backs out when the odds seem stacked against him.
The boy's mother feels she has been too distracted by her job as a journalist to carry out her role as a mother, and her frustration causes her to write a vitriolic review of a restaurant. This is in turn means the drunken restaurant owner lashes out and sacks a kitchen worker, a fat boy who then has to find another, disastrously misjudged, way to get the money for his gym membership...and so on and so on.
Eventually, via a suicidal maths teacher, a formerly promising discus thrower forced by arthritis to give up and support herself and her sister by taking cleaning jobs, a frustrated estate agent and a psychotherapist, everything comes full circle and rebounds back on Xavier.
None of the characters is simple; all have features that evoke some sympathy, and each has a back story - the homeless mother downstairs from Xavier, the office worker upstairs who isn't quite the battered woman Xavier imagines.
Even people who appear briefly, like the fellow expat Gemma with whom Xavier shares a one night stand, are not just dismissed, but given an after-story which in her case takes her in a few sentences back to Australia, marriage, retirement and eventual death. Almost an obsessive tying up of loose ends.
The central relationships are those between Xavier and Pippa, the cleaner whom he meets at a speed dating session, and Xavier and Murray, his supposed co-presenter who is in fact hopelessly inadequate, with not only a stammer but a sense of humour which crashes embarrassingly wide of the mark. Xavier has to address the fact that his loyalty to Murray is holding him back - as it is Murray too, it seems. In dealing with this, Xavier acts to alter the random flow of events past him, and in a sense precipitates the denouement.
The theme of the novel, if you need one, is Xavier's transition from someone who obsessively helps others, through a horrific incident arising from this which destroys all his relationships in Australia, then to a distancing from others, through to a final re-engagement with the people around him. Or maybe not final - the end of the story leaves us (and Xavier - literally) up in the air, at a point where the randomness of cause and effect (if that's not a contradiction) can take any one of a mass of turns.
All in all, a great read which kept me awake late at night to finish it, and left me thinking about the characters for quite a while afterwards, which for me is the mark of a thoughtfully written story and a skilful writer.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 7 Nov 2012
By 
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This review is from: Eleven (Paperback)
Makes my top 3 books of all time - along with The Time Traveler's Wife and We Need To Talk About Kevin. Original, brilliantly written and makes you think. Wonderful wonderful wonderful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eleven - Mark Watson, 19 July 2013
By 
This review is from: Eleven (Paperback)
Also posted at Miss Inga Page.

I had absolutely no idea what Mark Watson's Eleven was about when it first entered my radar. Having just finished One Day by David Nicholls, and knowing that I had devoured it (even if someone did spoil the ending... yes, I do mean you, Mama Page), my Dad picked it up for me from the New Releases aisle of the supermarket. Although it has taken me nearly two years to get around to, I'd say that he did rather well!

Eleven follows the actions of radio DJ Xavier Ireland who mans the graveyard shift of a London radio station. Whilst on air, he offers advice to his listeners, even though he is not all that great at taking it himself... One day, Xavier witnesses an event which he is unable to stop. Although he quickly puts it behind him, this single event causes a chain reaction, and the reader can only sit and watch as this decision impacts the lives of eleven separate people across the city.

I adore the premise of this book! I like the idea that the actions of one person can have a knock-on effect on so many other people, and similarly, that changing one event can alter the course of history! One criticism, however, is that Watson has a tendency to beat you over the head with this ripple-effect at the end of each chapter. He regurgitates the list of those affected, adding in the character portrayed in the respective chapter, and it became a little tiresome.

I did think this book was a little slow. This is not so much to do with the plot, but rather the style. I wonder if this was a conscious decision by Watson: the slow-pacing mirrors Xavier's state of mind, as all of his actions are hampered by his guilt. Xavier works the night-shift, a time when very few people are travelling around the sleeping city, and this exemplifies the extent to which Xavier is trapped in his half-alive state. Xavier has a complete back-story which is to blame for the way he is presented, and I think that this was done fairly well. As far as the minor characters are concerned, for the most part, they are only touched upon, but their purpose, in showing the degrees of separation, is tackled sensitively (and doesn't require much more explanation than is already provided).

I don't think this book is going to win any major awards, and I can't imagine that it is suddenly going to become the "next big thing", but it was a perfectly acceptable read to pass a long summer afternoon! The premise is great, the execution was just a little wearing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Struck a chord with me, 6 Dec 2011
By 
DebbieB (Southend-on-sea) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Eleven (Kindle Edition)
This is the first book I've read which I wish I'd written! Not possible I'm not a writer. But so many of the ideas mirrored thoughts that I've had but could not express like this. A wonderful read with a serious message. I am surprised to find out from other reviews that Mark Watson is a comedian, obviously a very talented man. If you're reading this and have not yet bought the book, buy it now!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another absorbing and entertaining offering from the talented Mr. Watson, 20 Aug 2010
This review is from: Eleven (Paperback)
I loved this book, as I have loved all Mark Watson's books to date. He is a brilliant and easily relatable writer whose books demand your full attention until you just don't want them to end. Though the concept of Eleven may be simple, the attention to detail and forethought required in bringing the plot together was clearly and crucially in plentiful supply. The main character, Xavier Ireland, is instantly endearing and draws you into his life story with ease. I honestly didn't want it to end, and cannot wait for Watson's next offering, surely by then accruing the critical acclaim that his work so obviously deserves. Clever, witty, insightful and absorbing; start by reading Eleven and you'll soon have moved on to Bullet Points and A Light Hearted Look At Murder as well.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warm and touching contemporary tale of London life, 16 July 2011
This review is from: Eleven (Paperback)
Xavier Ireland, a moniker created for himself by the unassuming Chris Cotswold, is a night-time radio chat show host who offers his calm wisdom over the airwaves whilst the city "sleeps, snacks, paces, sweats, fights and breathes its way" through the night. The letters XI are significant for Xavier as the Greek word that won him a scrabble contest and being the Roman script for eleven, also his house number (with all these classical references it's a wonder he didn't choose the surname "Iliad" or some such, but no matter).

The story has two main threads, one focusing on Xavier himself and his relationships with the various people in his life: his stammering radio sidekick Murray, his old childhood friends (through flashback), his new girlfriend, his neighbours and of course the listeners to whom Xavier's show is a source of comfort as much as entertainment; the other exploring a range of secondary characters whose lives are affected, chaos-theory style, by a chain of events nominally kick-started by Xavier's action (or rather, inaction) one winter's afternoon.

Watson's style is perfect for this contemporary tale - offbeat and quirky, but with a humanity that shines through his characters in a manner that avoids being melodramatic or patronising. Themes of friendship, rejection, loyalty, heartbreak and loneliness run through the book, holding together a plot which, by nature, can feel somewhat contrived on occasion. Many of the supporting characters are loosely-defined but those central to Xavier's life (especially the ever-optimistic but vulnerable Murray and the once ambitious Pippa) are drawn with genuine pathos and warmth.

This is not a "laugh out loud funny" book; indeed, it addresses some fairly serious issues such as social rejection, depression, insecurity and the everyday struggles of life as a single parent. But it's all done with a wry observation and gentle humour which explores the characters' motivations, fears and hopes for the future. Xavier himself, content to hide behind his fake identity ("There's something about the anonymity of the show...about maintaining a division between the people who tune in and solicit his advice, and the people who can hear his choice of TV show, and his bath water escaping through the pipes") is encouraged to address his own demons, his past mistakes, and to accept himself for the person is. Indeed, he is not the only character whose public face hides an inner turmoil; self-acceptance is perhaps the most significant theme of Eleven and the one which delivers its most touching moments.

Negatives? I agree with some other reviewers about the ending, which feels a little hasty and unsatisfying; also, the suggestion that one event can have such profound consequences is perhaps a little simplistic and is best viewed as a literary device rather than a precis of cause and effect. Still, this is a good book overall, one which is neither too lightweight to be trivial nor too heavy to lose its comic identity. Good effort Mark!
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