The characters of The Rotters' ClubJonathan Coe's nostalgic, humorous evocation of adolescent
life in the 1970shave bartered their innocence for the vengeance of middle age
in a story that is very much of the moment, charged with such issues as 9/11 and
the invasion of Iraq.
On New Year's Eve of 1999, with Tony Blair presiding over a glossy new version
of Britain, Benjamin Trotter watches the celebration on television in the same
Birmingham house where he'd grown up. Watches, in fact, his younger brother
Paul, now a member of Parliament and a rising star of New Labour, glad-handing
his way through the festive crowd at the Millennium Dome. Neither of them could
guess their lives are about to implode.
Paul begins an affair with his young assistant, soon realizes he has made the
fatal mistake of falling in love with her, then is threatened with exposure by
Doug Anderton, a journalist who happens to be one of his oldest schoolboy
enemies. At the same time, Benjamin and his friend Claire, still haunted by
memories almost thirty years old, make a desperate attempt to break free of the
past, if only to escape the notion that their happiest years are behind them.
As Cool Britannia is forced to address its ongoing racial and social
tensionsand as its role in America's "war on terrorism" grows increasingly
compromisedThe Closed Circle shuttles between London and Birmingham,
where fat cats, politicos, media advisers, and protesters in both locales lay
bare an era when policy and PR have become indistinguishable. Meanwhile, its
rich cast of characters contends with startling revelations about their youth
and the pressing, perennial problems of love, vocation, and family.
Jumping forward 3 decades, Coe revisits the cast of his 2001 novel, The Rotters Club, all grown up. Life has been pretty good to a few of them, such as Paul Trotter, now a member of Blair's "New Labour" Party, but others have not done so well and some still carry the angst of their teen years. As before, Coe explores the connections and conflicts between individual decisions and society as a whole. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The Atlantic Monthly - Elizabeth Judd
energy and a cheerful capaciousness . . . Coe gives us a meditation on the
consequences of terrorism, an examination of the post-9/11 political zeitgeist,
a satire of everything from book reviewers to modern parenting, and a
contemporary version of Anthony Powell's sprawling masterpiece, A Dance to
the Music of Time
The Washington Post - Ron Charles
Media-hungry Paul is surely Coe's most brilliant satirical creation; he's the epitome of the modern conservative disguised as a liberal, publicly noncommittal and vacuous but privately devoted to dismantling government for the profit of a brave, new oligarchy.
The New York Times - Jenny Turner
Patrick and Sophie want ''nothing more from life . . . than the chance to repeat the mistakes their parents had made''; but the world, Coe writes, is still deciding whether to allow them even that. It's always going to be risky, trying to make lasting fiction from very recent history. But this image gets the balance beautifully, as tank traps are laid around the British Embassy and the young lovers, oblivious, walk on.
... a compelling, dramatic and often funny depiction of the way we live now-both savage and heartfelt at the same time.
A pleasing modern-day addition to the venerable lineage of the English social novel, easily the equal of Trollope or Galsworthy, though without the imaginative fire of Dickens.
Booklist - Joanne Wilkinson
Coe's narrative voice is pleasingly intimate, as though he were inviting his readers into the "closed circle" referenced in the title, urging them to lean close and then closer.
Library Journal - Barbara Love
This politically incisive sequel may be read and enjoyed independently, but fans of the earlier novel will be rewarded by the welcome return of an engaging cast of characters and the resolution of outstanding mysteries. Highly recommended.
The Spectator - Olivia Glazebrook The Closed Circle is terrific . . . Coe creates an incisive portrait
of Britain at the turn of the century, with the private shenanigans of these
characters set against the turn of real events: Millennieum Eve, the threatened
closure of the Longbridge car factory, 11 September, war with Iraq, and even
Nigella Lawson licking her fingers on TV.
The Independent - Richard Mason
[The Closed Circle] has an up-to-the minute topicality that most
writers shy away from, but it allows Coe to hone in savagely on his betes
noires . . . Coe has succeeded in accomplishing that rare feat: a pair of
novels that combine the addictive quality of the best soap operas with a basic
was born in Birmingham in 1961
and was educated at Trinity
College, Cambridge. He has
taught English Poetry at Warwick
and worked as a professional
musician, writing music for jazz
He is the author of about 6
The Rotters' Club
(2001) which is set in
Birmingham during the 1970s and
tells the story of a group of
school friends working on the
school magazine. It was adapted
for BBC Television in 2005. He
is also the author of
biographies about Humphrey
Bogart, James Stewart and the
novelist B. S. Johnson.
He lives in London with his wife
and their two daughters.
Judge rules unused Borders gift cards to be worthless(May 23 2013) Borders owes nothing to holders of roughly $210.5 million of gift cards that had not been used by the time the bookstore chain shut down, a Manhattan federal...