Summary and book reviews of Mr. Phillips by John Lanchester

Mr. Phillips

by John Lanchester

Mr. Phillips by John Lanchester X
Mr. Phillips by John Lanchester
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2000, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2001, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

The story of one day in the life of a decent man who only forty-eight hours before knew exactly who and what he was and who on this day wonders who and what he can become.

Mr Phillips wakes on the morning of July 31 in his modest, nearly mortgage-free home, in the bed he has contentedly shared with his wife of thirty years (though to be honest, at night he lies beside her and dreams of other women), ready to face another ordinary day. Except that for Mr Phillips, it is not an ordinary day, for on Friday, July 28, he was summarily sacked. Nonetheless, he rises at his usual hour and prepares himself as he has done his entire working life for the office he no longer has.

This is the story of one day in the life of a decent man who only forty-eight hours before knew exactly who and what he was--husband and father, accountant, home-owner, son--and who on this day wonders who and what he can become.

With his eye for the telling detail, his ear for the commonplaces of speech that make us who we are, his sympathy for the very ordinariness that sets us each apart, John Lanchester has created a jewel of a novel: From common clay, he has given us gold.

He has been called "a writer whose gifts border on the demonic" (Michael Upchurch, Chicago Tribune), and his first novel, The Debt to Pleasure, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, winner of the Whitbred Best First Novel Award, a New York Times Notable Book, and a national bestseller.

Chapter One

At night, Mr Phillips lies beside his wife and dreams about other women.

Not all of the dreams are about sex. Not all the women are real. There are dreams in which composite girls, no one he knows, look on while Mr Phillips goes about his dream-business of worrying about things, or looking for things, or feeling obscurely guilty about things. There is a dream he has been having since he was ten years old, in which he saves a whole group of strange women from certain disaster by diverting a runaway train or safely landing an aeroplane or encouraging them to hang on to the roof fittings on a tilting ship until just the right moment. He has even had a couple of dreams which involve him doing something vague but heroic in relation to the Channel Tunnel.

In the aftermath of these feats he is becomingly casual, almost dismissive. To camera crews and the world's press he explains that it is no big deal; but the women in the dream know that that isn't true.

Mr Phillips...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. For much of the novel, the author refers to his protagonist as "Mr. Phillips" as opposed to his first name. What does he accomplish by doing so? What is the significance of Lanchester’s choice of Victor as Mr. Phillips’ first name considering the events that befall the character?

  2. How would you describe the depiction of women in Mr. Phillips? What is your opinion of Mrs. Phillips and Clarissa Colingford? To what extent do you feel that this opinion is influenced by the fact that these women are described through the voice of Mr. Phillips instead of an impartial narrator?

  3. In some sense, Mr. Phillips is a voyeur—watching the women playing tennis in the park, staring at people in their cars, viewing the adult film. In what ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Chicago Tribune - Michael Upchurch
A writer whose gifts border on the demonic.

New York Times - Richard Bernstein
Mr. Lanchester is a commanding writer.

USA Today
His writing has the clarity and zing of fine cut glass.

Chicago Tribune - Michael Upchurch
A writer whose gifts border on the demonic.

New York Times - Richard Bernstein
Mr. Lanchester is a commanding writer.

USA Today
His writing has the clarity and zing of fine cut glass.

London Review of Books - Adam Phillips
[E]xceptionally funny and often astoundingly intelligent.

Publishers Weekly
... this stylishly written novel makes it clear that Lanchester is more than a one-hit wonder.

Publishers Weekly
... this stylishly written novel makes it clear that Lanchester is more than a one-hit wonder.

Reader Reviews

"Old fella"

Fun but not always funny
A wander through London the first day of your life after being made redundant is an opportunity to do whatever takes your fancy, or stirs your interest. Mr Phillips has some unexpected fun and his recollections and reflections are often droll, even ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by John Lanchester

If you liked Mr. Phillips, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Caste
    Caste
    by Isabel Wilkerson
    In 2020, the word "racist" remains taboo. Conceptually, racism is so culturally unacceptable, so ...
  • Book Jacket: The Deepest South of All
    The Deepest South of All
    by Richard Grant
    Author Richard Grant frequently uses his wanderlust to explore diverse stories that create a complex...
  • Book Jacket: Piranesi
    Piranesi
    by Susanna Clarke
    Our First Impressions readers were delighted with this speculative novel by Susanna Clarke, her ...
  • Book Jacket: The Bell in the Lake
    The Bell in the Lake
    by Lars Mytting
    A legend from Lars Mytting's Norwegian hometown tells of two centuries-old church bells that, like ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Blind Light
    by Stuart Evers

    A multigenerational story about two families bound together by the tides of history.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline

The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Agent Sonya

Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy

Master storyteller Ben Macintyre tells the true story behind the Cold War's most intrepid female spy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I I M B T Give T T R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & 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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.