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19 Reviews
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong story in so many ways
A book that is full of plot rather than waffle. It keeps you engaged from the outset and does not let you go. Sometimes shockingly honest in the way it renders the characters and their unrestrained opinions and speech. The cruel and crude banter is all there. Ugly prejudice of all descriptions simmering away. Unreconstructed male workplace relationships that extend...
Published 16 months ago by V Emphatic

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Holiday Read
I finished the book but it didn't hold my interest a great deal, I was just glad to get through it. Sorry.
Published 10 months ago by I love my dog


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong story in so many ways, 5 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Magnificent Joe (Paperback)
A book that is full of plot rather than waffle. It keeps you engaged from the outset and does not let you go. Sometimes shockingly honest in the way it renders the characters and their unrestrained opinions and speech. The cruel and crude banter is all there. Ugly prejudice of all descriptions simmering away. Unreconstructed male workplace relationships that extend into the home via the pub. Everything thought, said and done distorted by the refractive index of beer. Political correctness is absent. The language can be strong but not as strong as you find almost anywhere in real life, particularly building sites.
It's not all grit. A dark, humorous thread pops out now and again. Ultimately, it is uplifting.
Would make a great film. It's almost a script.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unlucky Jim, 27 May 2013
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MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Magnificent Joe (Paperback)
Magnificent Joe is a bit of a misnomer. The novel's actually about Jim, a young man who once had promise but blew his prospects in a moment of teenage madness. He finds himself stuck in the Durham village of his childhood, working as a bottom of the heap building labourer and hanging with his childhood friends because he doesn't have any better options. Jim seems content to tread water through his life, living only for the sake of his next beer.

The novel is mostly about the relationships between Jim, his friends Barry and Geoff, and Geoff's wife Laura. The four of them don't necessarily like one another very much and seem quite dissatisfied with life. But like Jim, they pretty much accept the cards that life has dealt them. They work hard but make room for banter in the mess hut and in the pub. The subtle development of these relationships and the latent resentment that each of them feels become the fuel that drives the novel.

Joe is a bit of an afterthought. Joe has some form of learning disability and lives with his mother, apart from this group of friends. The connection is that Jim's family were close to Joe's family and even though Jim's parents are long gone, Jim still feels a responsibility towards Joe and his mother. At best, though, Joe is a secondary character and it's not obvious how he has earned the moniker of "magnificent". The blurb might lead a reader to expect a new Incredible Adam Spark; or perhaps even a Christopher from Curious Incident. But no, Joe is fairly unremarkable and the novel would have been more aptly titled Unlucky Jim.

The novel is short and the narration is mostly a tight first person perspective from Jim. It works well and gives a good insight into Jim's personal battle against his self-pity. But half way through, the occasional chapter comes along that is narrated in third person from Geoff's perspective. This is very awkward and distracting at first, although on balance it is probably justified by taking the novel in a direction it could not otherwise have gone.

Magnificent Joe is a great read and a great insight into a squandered youth. It's bleak but not oppressive. I look forward to reading James Wheatley's future work with interest.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taut and lyrical, with a bleak sense of humour, 9 Mar 2013
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Excellent characterization, occasionally lyrical writing and a world minutely observed. Flashes of dark humour relieve this ultimately tragic tale of life in a redundant pit village.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 6 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Magnificent Joe (Kindle Edition)
This is a wonderfully crafted story, which details the claustrophobic lives of a group of friends in a rural corner of the North-East, where fists and rumours fly with dangerous results. James Wheatley creates a landscape which is easy to visualise and populates it with characters whose friendships and antagonisms are all too recognisable. The vulnerability of Joe in this harsh world creates a sense of jeopardy which makes it impossible to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good easy read, 11 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Magnificent Joe (Kindle Edition)
This is a good easy read, the characters were typical of that trade. I just got a little lost at first with the flashback and forward, but thats my fault not the author's.....I should have bought it in book form then I would have been able to flick back, can't be done on a kindle. Recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good story, 11 Sep 2013
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I enjoyed this book, was quite real, quite dark, perhaps depressing in parts if you are in the wrong mood, but a really good story as you see the main character struggle through life. I enjoyed this book and would recommend
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good friends, 28 Jun 2013
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The book is well written but contains too many swear words for my liking. The story twists and you are unsure where its heading. You soon love Joe and admire the friendship.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 5 Jun 2013
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This was a book that hooked me immediately, set in the County Durham coalfield that I grew up in, both it and the characters were eerily familiar.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read, 31 May 2013
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A violent yet compelling read. Great empathy shown for Joe, who isn't tuned into the world the same as most people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real page turner that you can truly get involved in., 27 May 2013
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This review is from: Magnificent Joe (Kindle Edition)
I got this on my kindle after reading a review in the independent, stating it was a modern day of mice and men. And yes it is in many ways. There is a definite George and Lennie relationship between Jim and Joe. But it's modern and raw in its plot and development. It's honesty is sometimes shocking. The rawness is compelling and the attachment you have to the characters too is strong.

I loved it and would recommend it highly.
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Magnificent Joe
Magnificent Joe by James Wheatley
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