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Joy Hardcover – 7 Jun 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann (7 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434020427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434020423
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 3 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 413,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A brilliant book... Jonathan Lee is one of those rare, agile writers who can take your breath away." (Catherine O’Flynn, author of What Was Lost)

"Exquisitely and surprisingly written…[Joy] proves that Lee is a significant talent and that his future work should be well worth awaiting." (Observer)

"Outstanding ... a forensic portrayal of despair that shows Lee to be an exceptional, brave prose stylist... Funny and humane, Joy is an enormously impressive piece of storytelling." (Tom Williams Literary Review)

"Jonathan Lee’s second novel, Joy (William Heinemann), charts the final day in the life of a high-flying young lawyer. Lee writes with extraordinary vividness, with prose so sharply defined it takes your breath away." (Elizabeth Day Observer (Books of the Year 2012))

"With its supple prose, ingenious structure, wit and slow-burn sympathy, Joy is a sly miracle of a novel." (A.D. Miller)

"Lee constructs office scenes easily, weaving together numerous characters and dialogues with flair…the writing crackles." (Independent on Sunday)

"A major new voice in British fiction." (Guardian)

Book Description

JOY is a hugely inventive, ambitious and absorbing novel about pleasure, love, loss, and work by ‘a major new voice in British fiction’ (Guardian).

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In July 2010 I read Jonathan Lee's debut 'Who is Mr Satoshi' and looked forward to his 'difficult second novel'. 'Joy' has confirmed that he is not a one hit wonder. 'Mr Satoshi' asked the question can we really 'know' anyone 'Joy' covers similar ground but in a totally different way. The eponymous heroine is in a coma having plummeted 40 feet from a viewing platform in front of work colleagues on the day she is made partner of her law firm. It happened at 5pm on a Friday afternoon. Suicide, accident or something more sinister? The novel winds its way into revealing the truth using an unusual narrative structure. The first and every alternate chapter follows Joy from the Thursday night, her experiences, thoughts, memories and intentions. The other chapters are written as a form of monologue as 4 characters take turns to talk to a counsellor, the counsellor is silent but his questions become apparent from the answers given. It gave me the feeling that I was the counsellor, quietly taking notes and trying to make sense of what was being said.

These 4 characters represent different facets of Joy's life, Dennis, her husband, Peter, a colleague, her PA Barbara and fitness instructor Samir. Each colourful character has their own voice, quirks and personality, Samir suffers from OCD and Barbara believes everything will be fine if she could just visit her sister Jackie in the States. Dennis is on 'sabbatical' from the university and finds solace in books and Peter has a thing about rubber bands! We learn about Joy through them but there are pieces of the puzzle missing, things that none of them know which only come to light through Joy's personal narrative.
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Having read the 'blurb' I downloaded this book under the mistaken impression that it was a crime novel set in a London law firm. Joy's fall does crash straight through the carefully preserved corporate facade of Hanger, Slyde & Stein, but in fact this is a heartbreaking story with an overwhelmingly poetic and melancholic feel. It is also extremely funny. Jonathan Lee is generous with his words, an odd thing to say about a writer, but each phrase and sentence is beautifully assembled. Any part of this book can be randomly accessed and a prose poem discovered, with humour and tragedy intermingled. Jonathan Lee never produces 'auto pilot' plot driven writing.

We are given the points of view of five characters, five voices of a Greek chorus in an interwoven story that rotates around a central event. Jonathan Lee captures the unexpected arrival of disaster perfectly, those fateful minutes that turn an ordinary day into a major tragedy. The characters have no way to rewind the tape or to erase their actions. The last three monologues in particular are superb, heartfelt prose poems. There are tiny allusions to T.S. Eliot, a poet to whom I would connect Jonathan Lee. Watch this writer!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed Jonathan Lee’s, “High Dive,” I was keen to read his earlier books and came across this one. Joy is the name of the central character of this novel; a successful lawyer who, from the very beginning of this book, we are aware has just plummeted forty foot from a viewing platform in her Central London office block to land on the marble floor in front of the assembled staff…

It took me a little while to get comfortable with the style of this novel. Some of the chapters are told directly from the point of view of Joy herself, taking us through the day of the accident and looking back on events in her past. After her traumatic fall, there is also a counsellor brought into the company to offer support, and other characters address their stories to this unnamed person. There is Dennis, Joy’s husband, Peter, her colleague and husband of her friend, Christine, Samir, who works in the office gym and suffers from OCD and Joy’s irascible, resentful PA, Barbara.

As the book unfolds, we hear of the office politics in the firm of solicitors that is Hanger, Slyde and Stein. Of successful careers accompanied by suffering private lives, of affairs, work fatigue, impossibly long hours, office gossip, personal ambition and, over all, the tragedy in Joy’s life which has led to an estrangement with her sister, Annie and the guilt that consumes her.

This is an intelligent, well written and interesting novel, which I enjoyed greatly. I look forward to reading Lee’s first novel, “Who is Mr Satoshi?” and to reading any future work of his. I was very impressed with this and with, “High Dive,” and recommend both novels highly.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having been impressed by Jonathan Lee’s most recent novel, High Dive, published in 2015, about the Brighton bombing of the Metropole in 1984, I was interested to read this earlier novel of his, (2012) set in a successful City corporate law firm

Lee lifts the lid off a fiercely competitive, cynical world of high flyers, most of whom have taken a step away from living according to any rules except the pursuit of empty pleasure, driven by ambition and materialism

Joy Stephens is one of the brittle, successful lawyers, presently fighting the corner for a corrupt fast food company, whose Poutry Products (McNuggetKentucky type things) are being challenged by radicals, concerned about the environment, animal welfare and human health.

Stephens is about to get one of the golden prizes, and be made up to partner. However, (as is made clear in the blurb, so no spoilers) her life is seriously unravelling, for reasons which the reader will discover, and she is planning a dramatic suicide on the day of her promotion.

The structure of the book intercuts the events, within a time frame, of what Joy has planned to be her last day on earth. Joy’s day is described in third person narration.

Intercut with this are four other voices, who narrate their stories first person to an unnamed trauma counsellor, who has been hired by the legal firm to offer support to people affected by seeing Joy fall forty feet and land on a marble floor, whilst they were gathered to celebrate and toast her public promotion. The firm were planning a glitzy party and she was meant to be the golden one of the hour, not a a public splatter of blood and bone on the party floor.
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