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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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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!
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on 3 February 2000
Whether you are new to David Lodge, or whether you are familiar with his other works, this trilogy is a must for every reader. No small book collection or vast library is complete without it.
Lodge's trilogy spans three decades of the 'international [university] campus'. In Phillip Swallow and Morris Zapp, we see two central characters who are poles apart professionally and personally and yet drawn together time and time again with hilarious and sometimes chaotic results.
Lodge demonstrates his knack of telling a good yarn and makes writing the contemporary novel appear effortless. If, like me, you thoroughly enjoy this collection you will probably go on to read his many other novels or critical works.
David Lodge is one of England's most talented and brilliant living writers and this trilogy is one of his best works. It is simply first rate. Just read it.
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This bargain of a volume contains Lodge’s three novels: “Changing Places” (1975), “Small World” (1984), and “Nice Work” (1988), all inspired by his own experiences as an academic. His observations are often wittily satirical, and his descriptions are very evocative, especially for any reader who has been through similar experiences or who knows the many locations in which the stories are set.

I have reviewed each of these novels separately on Amazon; but this collection benefits from an introduction by David Lodge, saying something about each of the three.

“Changing Places”: In 1969 Lodge, who was then a lecturer at the University of Birmingham, had spent six months as visiting associate professor at the University of California. He plots an English academic visiting an American campus at the same time as an American academic visits an English one. The difference between American and English ones was greater when he wrote the book in 1969 than it is today, when English universities have become much more like American ones, so that the novel in some respects has become something of a period piece.

“Small World”: In 1978 Lodge had attended a huge academic conference, with an attendance of 10,000, in Manhattan, and in the following year he attended two smaller ones, one in Switzerland and one in Israel. The participants at indulged themselves, away from the academic sessions, in all sorts of extra-curricular activities, and many of them competing for some Holy Grail like a well-endowed Chair.

“Nice Work”: This is set in 1979, the year in which Mrs Thatcher’s government came to power and wanted universities to be run like businesses and to become less dependent on government funding. Birmingham University, along with most others, tried to strengthen its ties with local industry. So for this novel Lodge uses the same formula he had used for “Changing Places”, this time with an academic visiting a business concern to learn how business works, and a businessman eventually reciprocating by spending time in the university.

My four star rating is the average for the three novels: four stars for the first, three for the second and five for the third.

So now see my separate reviews.
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As a David Lodge fan [see my report on Deaf Sentence ] I thought it was time I read some of his earlier work and this three for the price of one decent paper back tempted me . I am so very glad that it did .
David Lodge at his insightful , humorous best as we trace the trials , tribulations and ambitions of two entirely different academics from each side of the pond . The slightly stayed , but randy none the less , English lecturer and the more worldly and even more randy American professor. Set against the two countries very different worlds of academia and written by someone who knows of which he writes this is a very interesting and laugh out loud trilogy .
Written between 1975 and 1988 and spanning three decades they engender a nice feeling for the not so distant past with references to costs , communications and general living standards which beg the question : Is this really how we lived just 20 to 35 years ago ? It could take place in another century . Come to think of it : it did , but you know what I mean .
I mentioned that there is humor . There is also eroticism . And indeed humorous eroticism or erotic humor. Bags of both .
A compact volume for light , entertaining , holiday reading . It is a great buy .
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on 18 April 2010
I always love campus novels, working in univerities as I do, and so much enjoyed this trilogy. (Didn't like the TV series as much though). I'd recommend anyone at a university to read these novels, Kingsley Amis's 'Lucky Jim', Malcolm Bradbury's 'The History Man', and for a 21st century take on things, 'A Campus Conspiracy' by Anon, and P.J.Vanston's dark university satire 'Crump'.
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on 27 November 2013
This trilogy set is excellent value, 3 books in one and are terrific reads. David Lodge's writing style is enjoyable and the trilogy is related by character and circumstance, so you can read all the way through and enjoy the continuity of theme.
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on 2 September 2013
I read this when applying for a job in academia. Oh what a laugh. And what an insight. Great characters, great stories, hilarious turns of phrase. Absolutely brilliant writing. I didn't get the job, and that's a relief!
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on 19 October 1999
Anyone who's ever read other Lodge novels (and especially How far can you go? or The British Museum is falling down) will immediately recognize the unique style Lodge applies in his writing. Lodge is an avid observer of the ever-changing environment people live in and as he is a member of the scientific circles of the society, he focuses on this aspect of human existence. The Trilogy with its three novels reveals the usually unexposed facets of university life, but Lodge does that in the most entertaining manner. Without presenting summaries of plots of the individual stories, let it suffice to say that each of them is separate in their developments, however, the fates of the main heroes are intertwined in all three of them, so when reading the second or the third novel, there will be moments in which references will be made to events in the other(s). I would heartily recommend the Trilogy to anyone who wishes to spend a few hours a day taking a laughable read about "mad" university teachers. If one has ever been to a university, these stories will stir those happy memories of youth well spent, or youth wasted (depending on how one views that), but will certainly not leave one feel indifferent.
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on 16 November 2013
If the best novels give us insight into the social and sexual mores of our times and times past then this trilogy is up there with the best. Along with penetrating insight into British and American academic life and love, David Lodge gives us a hilarious anecdotes from the hippy era on the West Coast of America. An era supposedly of peace and love but in reality of campus occupations, "sit ins" and open and cruel exploitation of women in the name of free love. As the novels move through time the behaviour of academics changes in keeping with coming of the jet set age. But as you would guess nothing goes smoothly for long and our heroes live to regret their wildly extravagant behaviour. The last novel bring us right up to modern times of austerity measures and could be quite depressing except that the resilience of our academic heroine and our businessman counterpoint rescues the day (with a piece of unbelievable luck) and makes us feel that common sense and decency and respect for other people will win in the end.
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on 27 January 2015
Re-read after many years. Still amusing and informative (?) about the bitchy world of academia. So much more rewarding than a lot of more modern fiction. Perhaps the storyline is a bit too much into wildly unlikely coincidences
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