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What a Carve Up!

4.3 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 15 hours and 15 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 11 Mar. 2010
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003C1BNWI

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A real broad canvas of a novel that examines life under the Thatcher government in 1980s Britain, but it's not just a piece of political tub-thumping. The story plants its roots in the 1940s and uses the shenanigans of a particular influential family to illustrate the gradual dismantling and restructuring of British society and, above all, how the whims of this one group of people have far-reaching and devastating consequences for the average person on the street.
But I don't want to make it sound like a grim sociopolitical tract. At times, it's incredibly funny, and occasionally very touching. It's bookended by World War II and the Gulf War, but its examination of society probes like a laser beam into the minutiae of everyday things that affect us all, like public transport, healthcare, what we eat, how we think. Ultimately, it's a very human novel, superbly constructed and deserving of high praise.
And while I kind of see what previous reviewers mean about it not appealing to Tories or illustrating a class war, I should try to look beyond those issues because this isn't just a book about politics, it's about people - it's about us, and what we have allowed to happen to our society.
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By A Customer on 19 July 2000
Format: Paperback
You simply HAVE to read it. It re-affirms that the novel is not dead as an art form (the structure is simply astounding), it proves that you can write a novel that is both politically astute and personally relevant - and it is further proof that an intelligent, sophisticated book can be funny enough to make you cry with laughter. It is an absolute masterpiece that I have bought for more than ten people, each one of whom has agreed that it is one of the best novels of the last ten years. Buy it and see why - you will not be disappointed
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By A Customer on 4 Aug. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the first Coe book I've read and I loved it. It's funny and clever, develops the plot in a fragmented, looping chronology with multiple perspectives, sources, and interlocking stories - all presided over by a very unhappy and frustrated lead narrator. You know, the sort of things you find in Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, and Will Self novels (and seemingly all serious films since at least 'Pulp Fiction'). But it is more straightforward, with less literary ambition, or pretension, than what I've read from those authors. The story is much easier to follow, and one can say exactly what happens at the end, rather than speculating on the desultory and stridently ambiguous finishes those other authors frequently give us.
The unfashionable clarity is a result of the book's overt politics. I find that Amis and Self bury their political commentary in stories that focus on how tormented their characters feel by the unexplained vagaries of life and how irreversibly complex it's all become. Coe, on the other hand, is willing to identify and blame the forces that have made society such a mess and living so hard to figure out. It's not some Fat Controller with supernatural powers, nor a mysterious seeming-friend doing improbable things with the money system to play out a personal grudge. It's right-wing politicians and businesses who, among other things: control our news sources and fill them with meaningless gossip or misleading agitprop, stoke up wars and profit on arms sales, industrialise food production at the expense of the ecology and consumer health, and intentionally ruin our public services to serve their theological devotion to laissez faire economics.
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Format: Paperback
The shifting fortunes of England between WWII and the early 1990s is the subject of this broad, complex, genre-blending, scathing, and hilarious satire from one of Britain's best contemporary writers. The framework for this is a fictitious Yorkshire family, whose tentacles extend deeply into politics, media, and the corporate world. The Winshaws include: Arms dealer Mark, MP Henry, widely-read columnist Hilary, investment banker Thomas, art dealer Roddy, industrial poultry executive Dorothy, and institutionalized Tabitha. Struggling novelist Michael Owen is commissioned by Tabitha to write the family history, and in the course of his research, Owen comes to realize that the Winshaws are "wretched, lying, thieving, self-advancing" elites whose actions embody the decline of the country.

In a dizzying feat of narrative, we learn of the Winshaws' private and public lives, how they all intersect, and especially how intellectually and morally shallow they each are. For example, via Hilary, we see the rise of Murdoch-style tabloid journalism, via Thomas the insider trading scandals, and via Henry, the trainwreck of Tory/Thatcherite economic policies. But as if this wasn't enough to keep the reader's attention, the story also works in a mystery involving two mysterious deaths, and a strange running congruence to the 1961 comedy film What A Carve Up! The result is a whirlwind of genres, including old-fashioned Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, P.G. Wodehouse-style comic novel, Evelyn Waugh-style social satire, and Christopher Hitchens-style political polemic, all of which combine for a thoroughly entertaining read.

Some may find fault in Coe's ripe and vivid portrayal of this family of scoundrels, but it's entirely in keeping with the satiric and farcical tone of the work.
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