Excerpt from The Closed Circle by Jonathan Coe, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Closed Circle

by Jonathan Coe

The Closed Circle
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2005, 384 pages
    Jun 2006, 384 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

High on the Chalk
Tuesday, 7th December, 1999

Sister Dearest,

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 and jeans. Must be freezing.

Well, at least I haven't got to that point yet; although there have been some bad moments, these last few weeks. Moments when it seemed like I'd lost my bearings completely, that it was all spinning out of control. You must have known that feeling, once. In fact I know you did. Anyway, it's over now. Onwards and upwards.

Beneath me I can see Etretat, the wide curve of its beach, the pinnacled rooftops of the chateau where I stayed last night. I never did manage to explore the town. Funny how, when you have the freedom to do anything you want, you end up doing so little. Infinite choice seems to translate into no choice at all. I could have headed out for sole dieppoise and ended up being plied with free Calvados by a flirty waiter; instead I stayed inside and watched some old Gene Hackman movie dubbed into French.

Four out of ten, for that. See me afterwards. Could do better. Is this any way to begin a new life?

Am I really beginning a new life, in any case? Perhaps I'm just resuming an old one, after a long and finally pointless interruption.

On board the ferry, 'Pride of Portsmouth'
In the restaurant
Tuesday, 7th December, 1999
Late afternoon

I wonder how they manage to make a profit from this line, at this time of year? Apart from me and the man behind the counter--what should I call him, is he the steward or purser or something?--this place is deserted. It's dark outside now and there is rain flecking the windows. Perhaps it's just spray. Makes me want to shiver looking at it, even though it's warm inside, almost overheated.

I'm writing this letter in the little A5 notebook I bought in Venice. It has a silky blue hardback cover with a marbled pattern, and lovely thick, roughly cut pages. When I've finished--if I ever finish--I suppose I could always cut the pages out and put them in an envelope. But there wouldn't be much point, would there? Anyway, it hasn't got off to a flying start. Rather self-indulgent so far, I'd say. You'd think I'd know how to write to you, after the thousands and thousands of words I've written in the last few years. But somehow, every new letter I write to you feels like the first one.

I've got a feeling this is going to be the longest of all.

Excerpted from The Closed Circle by Jonathan Coe Copyright © 2005 by Jonathan Coe. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.