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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you missed the old Elton . . .
Drugs are the scourge of society. But rather than committing already stretched police resources to solving the problem, why not legalise all drugs? Not just cannabis but heroin, cocaine and E. This is the central premise at the heart of Ben Elton’s new book, a typically vituperative attack on this country’s draconian drug laws.
Writing with a passion and...
Published on 16 Nov 2002 by S. L. Carswell

versus
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected better of Elton
I've just finished this book, and found myself wondering if an editor ever got to see it, before the publisher pushed it out. I agree with another reviewer, I found Elton's use of phonetic spelling for regional accents overdone, uneccessary, distracting and condescending. Elton has vast writing experience, so I wonder how he gets away with such amataeurish style. I grew...
Published on 10 Jan 2003 by Rojair


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you missed the old Elton . . ., 16 Nov 2002
By 
S. L. Carswell (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: High Society (Hardcover)
Drugs are the scourge of society. But rather than committing already stretched police resources to solving the problem, why not legalise all drugs? Not just cannabis but heroin, cocaine and E. This is the central premise at the heart of Ben Elton’s new book, a typically vituperative attack on this country’s draconian drug laws.
Writing with a passion and fervour that he hasn’t evidenced in a long time, Elton patiently sets out his argument, using a multitude of characters, and a wonderfully flowing style, without traditional chapters. The main story deals with a government back-bencher’s attempts to get his private member’s bill introduced - a bill to legalise drugs. It gives Elton a marvellous backdrop onto which to paint his story, a story in which everyone takes drugs, the media are nothing but a pack of ravenous jackals and the general public is only interested in sound bytes and celebrities. A story which deals with prostitution, corrupt police and gangsters.
There’s a danger that a story this complex could run away from an author, but Elton is to suave for that, letting many of the stories unfold in the character’s own words. It’s a wonderfully fluent piece of work, with characters that, although obvious characatures, still elicit strong emotion from the reader. If it seems bleak, it’s because this is a bleak subject, but Elton’s customary humour and satire are there to lighten the load.
There are caveats, of course. The prose does lapse into preachiness at times (a side-effect of the author’s fervour) and, of course, not everyone will agree with the points that he raises.
But even taking that into consideration, this is a wonderfully well thought out and realised book, which feels so “now” you’ll swear it was written last week. It’s a fine return to form for an author who, after such powerful books as “Gridlock” and “This Other Eden” was beginning to look as if he’d gone a little soft. It’s a book that should be compulsory reading for every politician and newspaper editor, not to mention every parent and teacher. Read this first, then read the equally superb “Out of It” by Stuart Walton, a book that more scientifically puts forth the reasons for legalisation.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elton does it again, 21 Nov 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: High Society (Hardcover)
With High Society, Ben Elton has done it again. Having been a major fan of his previous work, I was all over this in a second. All of Eltons trademarks are here. Achingly brilliant observations about the world we live in, dry wit and absolutly spot on humour.
High Society focusses on the fact that in this day of age, there are no truly lawful people. Either we, or someone we know go about there life breaking all mannor of laws. Not nescecarily big things like drug offenses, it could be as small as not cleaning your dogs poop off the street, or copying a friends CD.
The main issue here though is topical (like all of Eltons books) Previously he satarised Big Brother with Dead Famous, and Quentin Tarantino with Popcorn. Now he turns to the current issue of the legalisation of drugs (and one minister who is a great believer in this)
Without giving too much away, needless to say that once again Elton leaves the reader with a lot to think about. How you do your thinking ultimately will skew your opinion of the book.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting High, 14 Nov 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: High Society (Hardcover)
There can't be too many social issues left which Ben Elton hasn't sought to address in a novel, but his take on the UK's drug culture has to be one of the most ambitious to date. A large cast of characters enable Elton to approach the issue from several angles. The main protagonists include a backbench Labour MP, Peter Paget, who is seeking to introduce a bold Private Members' Bill for the legalisation of all drugs; a teenage runaway, Jessie, forced into heroin addiction and prostitution; and a kind of post-Robbie Williams beloved bad boy of pop music type character (and winner of a TV show called, amusingly, "Pop Hero"), Tommy Hanson. The characters are cleverly drawn and don't at any time descend into stereotype - Jessie in particular is an appealingly memorable character and Ben Elton resists the temptation, despite her undeniably tragic situation, to portray her simply as a victim.
The stage is therefore set for a well constructed comedy/drama the outcomes of which are never predictable and which finishes, rather oddly, in a very unlikely love story. There are many pleasingly sharp observations on the political climate and the media in particular which clearly demonstrate that Elton, though no longer the stand-up comic in the sparkly suit, has not lost his talent for witty social observation.
Ben Elton's vision is bleak in many respects and some scenarios do leave a bitter aftertaste. If his aim was to advocate, like Peter Paget, for the legalisation of drugs, I didn't come away entirely convinced in spite of some persuasive arguments. However the book is undeniably a good read and does provide food for thought. Elton's writing style and plotting has certainly improved since the publication of his first novel, and in "High Society" he has created an intelligent, unflinching and probably overdue comment on a critically important issue.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - thought provoking and very funny, 18 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
If ever there was a case for potentially legalising drugs, this book presents, in my opinion, strong and emotive reasons for doing so. As with many Ben Elton books, the narrative is divided into 'mini chapters', in this case following a series of characters and their experiences with drugs; from the politician, to the prostitute, via the pop star and the junkie. I became completely engrossed by this novel, it even surpasses my previous favourite Elton novel, 'Inconceivable' and once again had me laughing out loud on the train to and from work, much to the amusement of my fellow passengers.
The charactirisation is brilliant,with Elton's usual satire shining through once again, his contempt for various issues, (as always) barely disguised.
Read this book - it's fantastic and will show you another aspect of the drugs 'problem'.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zips along so fast you forgive its flaws, 6 Dec 2002
This review is from: High Society (Hardcover)
I was kind of hoping this wouldn't be much good, but no such luck. It's very entertaining. It's got such fantastic pace and so much plot that you just keep turning the pages. The characterisation is a bit broad in places (I found Tommy Hanson particularly overdone, particularly the Parky interviews) and at times you wish he'd slow down a bit (hardly a single scene goes on for more than two or three pages) but these are minor gripes. He makes you think, he covers all the arguments, and he pulls off a satisfying ending.
One thing though - it's not very funny. Inconceivable made me laugh out loud. So don't buy it for laughs. Just buy it because it's good.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, thought provoking read, 20 Mar 2004
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
The book is about how the war on drugs has been lost in Britain, and how everyone is breaking the law or knows people who do.
The story is told from the veiw point of a number of key characters who's own lives are linked to drugs in one way or another. There is Peter Paget, the back bench politician who launches a campaign to legalise drugs, Tommy Hanson, the popstar with his well known addictions and Jessie, a young girl caught up in a world of prostitution and drugs.
As with other Ben Elton novels, this book runs close the edge, with realistic characters intermingled with lots of references to real celebs and events that happened, which make the plot all the more credible.
This book is thought provoking - it makes you consider and question the society with live in as well as providing a page turning story! A great read!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just High, positively stinking Society!, 10 Nov 2002
By 
Colin Pallett (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: High Society (Hardcover)
Again Ben Elton has found just the right balance of observational humour mixed with telling points on Britain today. Althouh this doesn't have the laughs of 'Dead Famous' it is still witty in many places but it is the story itself, cleverly wound together with many different characters, all with their own excentricities and dark secrets, that really makes this another must read from Mr Elton. It draws on the many chances for comedy that our political system brings, none more so than the highly comitted Peter Paget MP who's fortunes swing from one extreme to the other in a matter of pages due to the whims of Fleet Street editors. His story should read depressingly familiar to any politician today and could even serve as a warning to them. The story is based on the arguments of what might happen should the government even discuss the possibility of legalising all drugs. This in itself brings a number of laughs as well as provoking the reader to actually wonder 'what if?'. It is typically bitter sweet in places, the story of the heroin addicted prostitute who tries to go straight is a good example and what happens to Paget is grim simply because it reads so true to life. For those of you who like Elton, buy it; for those of you considering buying Elton, get 'Dead Famous' first but this should be on the list as well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read..., 17 May 2006
By 
Somnambulist (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
I was a bit uncomfortable when I started reading this book and thought that I was going to hate it after 20 pages, however the book and subject matter does grow on you.

Having read a number of BE's other novels, the skill with which he weaves a number of characters towards an inevitable conclusion is to be admired, if the result is a little predictable.

In the end I couldn't put the book down as I wanted to know what happened to one of the characters in particular.

The book is BE's take on how the British media has the power to make and then break people. These are subjects which have been close to BE throughout his comedy career, and his distaste for the media and modern politics in general, shines through.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it. Please. The man deserves his royalties for this one., 6 Jan 2003
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
Well, High Society is the fourth book by Elton that I've read and I'm not sure how but he's surpassed himself. I didn't think it was possible for anyone to write a book as well-observed entertaining and gripping as Dead Famous or Inconceivable but Ben Elton has done just that. High Society, a book that tackles a very very very important issue (the vast-ranging, ever raging drugs culture if you hadn't guessed/didn't already know), is hilarious, moving, clever, well-observed, completely absorbing and fascinating.
The humour is at times more subtle than what we normally expect from Elton, with less opportunity for the trademark one-liners but nonetheless they crop up, and as a result are relished all the more. The other humour, largely borne of character is delightful, but can be lost amongst too many other emotions, so be sure to keep yourself prepared for laughter.
The idea of taking many different people in different situations, some briefly touching, some wrapped up and entwined, some never linking at all but all around the issue of drugs is a marvellous idea indeed. His characters carry the many plots with such verve and distinctive style that they are never easily lost or buried by the reader, even if they fall silent for 60 or so pages.
I think the story that most impressed and involved me was that of Jessie - a girl that I instantly fell in love with through a cocktail of sympathy, admiration, adoration and hope. Hers is such a bleak story - one that I felt could never be properly resolved - is told by her with such intelligence, wit and never-ending hope that I felt desperately moved with her every word. Jessie may not do much to make us laugh, but we don't want her to. Ben Elton has finally shown conclusively that he has the power to move as much as he can amuse.
The disgusting writhing blemish that is Peter Paget was a brilliant and exhilarating read (the main focus of the book when all's said and done, I suppose) and his tale is one I relished greatly. I admired the man's views, but by the end it was very very hard indeed to admire the man. He received not an ounce of my sympathy (mainly used up by Jessie, I'm afraid).
Tommy Hanson - Delightful stuff. I can't say much more.
And we have all the minors: the Samanthas and Sonias and Francoises and Roberts and Cathy's and Leman's and such who must not be forgotten. Each of them was brilliantly characterised and brilliantly written to ease us along the plots.
The media were brilliantly scratched and bitten at by Elton at almost every step which was another marvellous feature of the book, as the papers were constantly dipping into the different stories.
In conclusion, I would ask you a favour. Could you possibly find it in your hearts to buy this book, whether my review has spurred you on or put you off? Even if you don't enjoy the read, you will be unable to deny its power, its relevance, its stylish delivery and its necessity to have been written. High Society is a book that should, and with any luck will remain one of the major books of 'Our Time' for it is about just that. I shall say no more, though I know what I have said is rather understating things.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'High' Society, indeed..., 12 Aug 2003
By 
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
I am a great believer in the way that books are the fountains of knowledge, and this novel in particular, is no exception in my mind.It portrays effectively the path in which society today is directing towards & in my opinion, epitimises the attitudes of different characters within our 21st Century society.Apart from providing me with the knowledge & information on aspects such as drugs, prostitution, government etc, it also secured my opinion on whether drugs should be legalised or not.The novel has given me & my best friend many hours of discussion & criticism....& after all, that's what reading is all about.Recommended to anybody who might be interested in being involved with changing today's society for the better!!Appealing also, to younger readers (although the language is very blunt), because of its discussion of hot topics of today.Well worth sparing some time to read it.
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High Society by Ben Elton
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