Top positive review
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Funny, full of insights and a bargain
on 11 April 2012
These three books show David Lodge at his campus best and represent terrific value for money. "Changing Places" tells of the exchange between Morris Zapp, energetic and charismatic Prof from Euphoric State University and Philip Swallow of Rummidge whom no-one could call charismatic or even particularly energetic. The novel concerns cultural and social differences between the U.S.A. and G.B in the late sixties and is amusing and perceptive about the clashes of expectations and realities. There are laugh-aloud moments and another exchange of a non-academic nature! "Small World" is less successful, in my opinion, as the concentration is on Persse McGarrigle whose naivete is comic but does not lead us as far as the exploits of the other two - who are present but more in the background. It has marvellous moments but seems a little more strained. The best is "Nice Work" which goes beyond being a campus novel as it takes Robyn Penrose, a female and feminist lecturer on the industrial novel, into industry where she shadows Vic Wilcox whose views are decidedly old-fashioned but who is willing to learn from Robyn in various ways! The book does delve into serious issues of the concept of work and why universities should exist. The hellish description of the foundry contrasts with the Utopic vision of an ideal university and there is another picture of work where money is made by bankers simply doing deals. I loved the scene in Germany where Robyn trumps the businessmen but that is only one of many readable and thought-provoking moments in the story of the two central sympathetic characters, though there are minor figures like Vic's wife and children who are realistically portrayed. All the works combine humour with seriousness and all have insights into places, societies and individuals. Nice Work - all of them!