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.
High on the
Tuesday, 7th December, 1999
The view from up here is amazing, but it's too cold to write very much. My fingers can barely hold the pen. But I promised myself I'd start this letter before returning to England, and this really is my last chance.
Last thoughts, then, on leaving the European mainland? On coming home?
I'm scouring the horizon and looking for omens. Calm sea, clear blue sky. Surely that has to count for something.
People come up here to kill themselves, apparently. In fact there's a boy further down the path, standing dangerously close to the edge, who looks as though he may be planning to do exactly that. He's been standing there for as long as I've been on this bench and he's only wearing a T-shirt...
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).
Full Review (328 words).
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 novels including 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 ...
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