Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Summer Savings Up to 25% Off Cloud Drive Photos Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Oasis Learn more Shop now Learn more
Customer Review

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet with a leavening of sour, 28 May 2013
This review is from: Expo 58 (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's 1958 and Thomas Foley has been working in the Central Office of Information since the age of 18 in 1944 (which raises the question of why he wasn't called up for military service). He's a quiet man, so quiet that his colleagues affect to believe that he has taken a vow of silence. He's also handsome, while not having the least idea what to do with his good looks, although he is married to Sylvia with a baby girl.

He spends his time making the sort of COI films that we now find so hilarious, warning people not to sneeze over others and to look both ways before crossing the road, until the startling day when he's told he's to go to Brussels for Expo 58. The centrepiece of the British exhibition is to be a 'typical English pub' called The Britannia and as Thomas's mother is Belgian and his father ran a pub (both of which sad facts earn him the commiserations of his public-school superiors in a very amusing passage) he is the obvious choice.

It's up to Thomas whether he takes Sylvia and the baby with him and he's starting to feel neglected by his wife in favour of his newborn daughter, like so many men. Preparing to set out for Brussels alone, he finds himself an object of interest for a couple of cartoon British spies. Meanwhile, the rather creepy man who lives next door with his invalid sister is keen to keep an eye on Sylvia while he's away.

After 'What a Carve up' in the 80s and 'The Rotters' Club' in the 70s, Coe has gone even further back in time and exposes the sad underbelly of the Cold War world with the lightness of touch which one expects of him. It's a useful reminder of how dismal the 1950s were, and don't let anyone tell you that they were some sort of golden age: Thomas, rather than being put up in a posh hotel as he would be nowadays, is dumped in something resembling a holiday camp, sharing a room with a stranger. Thomas is a very likeable character -- an innocent bumbling through the unreal world created on the outskirts of Brussels, barely understanding what is real and what is fake.

At less than 270 pages, the novel won't detain you long and it's a rollicking good read, funny with just the right leavening of sadness. A surprising amount happens for such a short book and it left me with much to think about.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]


Review Details

Item

Reviewer

S. B. Kelly
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: London United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 3,534