Summary and book reviews of The Rotter's Club by Jonathan Coe

The Rotter's Club

By Jonathan Coe

The Rotter's Club
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2002,
    432 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2003,
    432 pages.

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Book Summary

Birmingham, England, c. 1973: industrial strikes, bad pop music, corrosive class warfare, adolescent angst, IRA bombings. Four friends: a class clown who stoops very low for a laugh; a confused artist enthralled by guitar rock; an earnest radical with socialist leanings; and a quiet dreamer obsessed with poetry, God, and the prettiest girl in school. As the world appears to self-destruct around them, they hold together to navigate the choppy waters of a decidedly ambiguous decade.

Excerpt
The Rotter's Club

Imagine!

November the 15th, 1973. A Thursday evening, drizzle whispering against the window-panes, and the family gathered in the living room. All except Colin, who is out on business, and has told his wife and children not to wait up. Weak light from a pair of wrought-iron standard lamps. The coal-effect fire hisses.

Sheila Trotter is reading the Daily Mail: "'˜To have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health–"these are the promises which do in fact sustain most married couples through the bad patches."

Lois is reading Sounds: "Guy, 18, cat lover, seeks London chick, into Sabbath. Only Freaks please."

Paul, precociously, is reading Watership Down: "Simple African villagers, who have never left their remote homes, may not be particularly surprised by their first sight of an aeroplane: it is outside their comprehension."

As for Benjamin . . . I suppose he is doing his ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
KLIATT - Janet Julien

Obscenities, racial slurs, and one of the hottest sex scenes ever make this prize-winning novel appropriate for the mature teen only.

Publishers Weekly

As he demonstrated in his well-received novel about the Thatcher years, The Winshaw Legacy, Coe is immensely clever, but that cleverness is almost misplaced here: universal as it may be, adolescent angst doesn't really compare to the problems of massive social change.

Library Journal - Lawrence Rungren

Coe covers a lot of ground here, both personal and political, and not all of the plot's loose ends get tied up. Still, this is an affectionately satiric and thoroughly winning portrait of growing up on the brink of the Thatcher era. Recommended.

Kirkus Reviews

There's a happy ending of sorts, but plenty of questions wait for Part II. Tasty but filling: a rich (too rich, perhaps) portrait of a time and a place that have received less than their fair share of literary attention.

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