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2.79 of 5 stars 2.79  ·  rating details  ·  270 ratings  ·  73 reviews
A debut novel guaranteed to catch the attention of journalists because it's all about them An entertaining satire and a poignant character study of two female journalists trying to survive in celebrity-obsessed, late-ninties Britain. There are two sides to every story.
Two women journalists -- one old, one young, one a veteran war correspondent, the other a writer of celeb...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 14th 2011 by Harvill Secker
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It's the late 90's in London. Two women, one the grande dame of journalism. She has witnessed and reported on every war, dictator, international crisis since WWII with a Pulitzer prize. The other, an up and coming journalist who creates celebrity lists each week (Best soap cat fights, worst dental makeovers, etc.). They cross paths and great writing ensues. McAfee pokes fun at tabloid journalism in those days just before the internet takes over. Actually, more than pokes fun--serves as a warning...more
Abigail Padgett
Writers really shouldn't write reviews, Readers should write reviews even though writers are also readers. It's an ethical quagmire out of which I crawled momentarily because this book is such a delight!

THE SPOILER, packed with wry wit in nearly every sentence, is in actuality a stealth Aristotelian tragedy. Except the “flawed character” lies not in the protagonist(s), but in a populist voyeurism that devours celebrity scandals like popcorn while remaining unable to find Pakistan on a map. THE S...more
Loved the sentences with nary a padding, every word tells, counts for something. Rhythm of writing great with changes for two points of view. And so sobering, this book, how tabloid attacks made of curdled-whipped-cream lies can ruin lives and leave sterling reputations tarnished--we know it, but watching it hurts a lot. The way old age shreds the ego of the public achiever, or any of us, leaving a competent, renowned person a shell, yes, like the film, "The Artist." The way feckless youth can s...more
The story of two delightfully detestable journalists: a callow young philistine, and a cynical old pro. The inside-baseball details about newspaper life are wonderful, as is the black humor. But the plot drags along like a dying cat. There are two central mysteries: what horrible thing did the old lady do as a young writer? And who is the mysterious young man she keeps meeting with? Both solutions are 1) extremely dull, and 2) entirely predictable. Not recommended.
Spoiler! This book has a dull, repetitive, plodding plot that almost grudgingly builds up to a predictable climax.
Mary Ann
This book was recommended by NPR so I thought ,I'll try it. I was so disappointed that I didn't finish it. I would read a paragraph and then say what did I just read and have to go back and read it again.I wasn't impressed with McAfee's McWordiness. I think a good newspaper editor would have cut out half of what she wrote before going to press.
One word:
Upon the first reading of this book I was struck by how unsympathetic and unlikable the main characters were. However I read this book twice and having gained more distance towards the characters on the second reading I was more accepting of their faults and transgressions. I enjoyed this in depth study of the newspaper world and its protagonists - the journalists. I cringed at the methods used by contemporary tabloid producers whose main goal is to find a scandal and implicate their victim by a...more
9/19/11: In my ongoing quest to know ever more about Ian McEwan, I read The Spoiler, by his wife, Annalena McAfee. I learned nothing about McEwan, or McAfee, as far as I can tell (beyond her thank you to him in the Acknowledgements), though I am glad I read it--if only to say I did. McAfee is a competent, articulate writer, but her story, which is supposed to be darkly comic and archly melodramatic, was a bit lost on me. Too much inside understanding of the British world of journalism is require...more
Stephanie Patterson
Honor Tait is a elderly, renowned war correspondent; Tamara Sim is a freelance tabloid journalist who is used to doing stories on “The & Worst Bad Hair Days.” They meet for an interview when some of Ms. Tait’s journalism is to be re-issued and they don’t get along. Ms. Tait feels that Ms. Sim doesn’t know anything. She’s right of course. When Tait mentions the 38th parallel, Sim can only wonder “Parallel to what?”. But Sim feels Tait is just as ignorant. She’s right as well. Tait is ignoran...more

London in the late 1990s. Honor Tait, a Martha Gellhorn-style pioneer woman journalist who covered WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and interviewed heads of state and celebrities, is nearing 80 and has a publisher who is trying to revive interest in her by republishing her major stories.

Tamara Sim is a 20-something journalist more comfortable with writing lists about celebrities than committing serious journalism, which she finds boring and out of date. But she is ambitious, and takes on wh...more
A period piece about Journalists...

If that sounds interesting, you will enjoy this book.

As a time capsule of when new media and the Internet was beginning to transition into super power it is engaging; and doubly so as a contrast of journalistic styles.

Told from a point of view of a up-and-comer bred on gossip & the cult of celebrity and a former in-the-trenches award winning Journalist in the twilight of her life.

I used the iPad dictionary quite a bit... at least as much as the author used...more
Ugh, I cannot recommend this book at all. The main character was snobby and unlikeable, the writing was dense, and the author used so many elaborate SAT words and references I felt like I needed a dictionary next to me for every paragraph. I kept waiting for something to happen, bearing through this novel, and nothing did. The "cliffhanger" at the end was the most obvious reveal. Such an odd way to treat a reader by trying to impress him/her with this ridiculously elitist writing then dumbing do...more
Young journalist Tamara Sim interviews iconic journalist Honor Tait, hoping to get enough info for a juicy article on her. Unfortunately, they do not click and the interview is not a success. Tamara tries another tactic, hoping to imply scandalous behaviour on the part of the once-attractive grande dame. Could have been a fun read and once in a while it showed promise, but overall disappointing. Would never have finished if not for my book club. Neither character is sympathetic, younger one bein...more
This started well but was ultimately disappointing. I really enjoyed reading about British journalism in the late 1990s, esp. since I was involved in American journalism at that time. I also thought it would be fun to read about a female journalist in the 1940s & beyond. However, the "doyenne of British journalism" turned into the same kind of disappointing writer that the tabloid chick was -- or maybe it was just McAfee who couldn't write well. I'm not sure - but I wanted to like this much...more
Danielle Turchiano
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
What a disappointment. This could have been wonderful but McAfee didn't develop her characters or the story line enough to make them at all believable. I did learn some new vocabulary words:
I always appreciate good vocabulary but in this case it seems as if McAfee was showing off her vocabulary to mask her prosaic and hackneyed plot (right back at you, McAfee)
Craig Pittman
Not nearly as funny or biting as it should have been, and not half as clever as its author seems to think it is. The plot hinges on not one, not two, but THREE gigantic coincidences, none of which seems terribly likely.

"The Spoiler" is by Annalena McAfee, whom the book jacket assures us readers is a thirty-year veteran of Fleet Street journalism. That's supposed to reassure us that she knows what she's talking about, and in fact the best parts of the book are where she mocks the pretensions and...more
Lorri Steinbacher
The story gave interesting insight into the media machine, but I found Tamara to be more of a caricature than a character. Honestly, could someone be so completely vapid and unself-aware? Probably, but I'd hate to believe it. Honor rang a little more true, but the Tamara's character was so cartoonish that it pulled me out of the story.
I was so disappointed in this book. I read multiple good reviews, but the plot didn't pick up until page 200 (out of 200!). Don't waste your time on this one.
Ann Sauer
Apr 14, 2012 Ann Sauer marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cultural
witty about new and old journalism ladies
I loved it. My family found it too erudite.
Die Presse
Kurz vor ihrem 80. Geburtstag blickt die ehemalige Star-Reporterin Honor Tait auf ihr Leben zurück. Finanziell geht es ihr nicht allzu gut und sie ist dabei die Druckfahnen des dritten Sammelbandes ihrer Reportagen zu sichten. Nur ungern erlaubt sie der noch nicht einmal 30jährigen Journalistin Tamara Sim, sie zu einem Interviewtermin zu besuchen. Und sofort scheinen sich die beiden ungleichen Frauen unsympathisch zu sein. Hier die alternde Autorität, dort die junge, unbedeutende Klats...more
When watching a news program or scrolling through headlines, do you sometimes roll your eyes and think "how is THIS news?" Then this is a book for you.

Setting: A London newsroom ca. 1997, just prior to the internet takeover of journalism. Two journalists: One a veteran war correspondent past her prime and, some would say, past her fame as well. The other a young thing who considers top 10 lists and the latest celebrity sex scandal more significant than pesky things like facts or history. Battle...more
Steve Mayer
What is it about the English and their love of novels about the press? From Evelyn Waugh'a Scoop to Michael Frayn's Toward the End of the Morning to this book, the English have routinely turned out very good books about Fleet Street and its environs. This book is set as the Internet starts to encroach on journalism, but nevertheless makes clear that the debasement of journalistic standards started long before the World Wide Web. The two characters who embody the dichotomy between high and low jo...more
One of the main characters works for the celebrity supplement of a UK newspaper. It's called "Psst!" She thinks the Internet is a waste of time and spends most of her time drinking wine for lunch with her self-involved editor at a restaurant/bar called Bubbles. Obviously, I loved this character. The other protagonist is an 80-year-old journalist with the experience of Martha Gellhorn who looked like Marlene Dietrich during her reporting heyday. Apparently she once interviewed Franco while wearin...more
Very good writing and a very good read.

Story of journalism, in all its forms.

Honor Tait is now 80 and had enjoyed a life of being a war correspondent, friend and confidant to many celebrities,
Lover of many men and a wife to 3. Very beautiful, she was much admired for her writing as well as her beauty.

Tamara is a would be journalist, now writing for tabloids and gossip columns. She is dispatched ( erroneously) to write an article about Honor.

They dislike each other, as they both totally misunder...more
One of those epic wannabe novels. But the upside of this one is that in only centered around two people who were some what orbiting each other. An older journalist who was being a typical old person and thinks that everything new sucks is a wanted subject to a new up and coming journalist. The older women is getting an award or something and a paper or magazine that the younger women does freelance for wants her to write a piece on her (or does she?! I really liked that twist!). Shit happens in...more
I'm keeping this brief because God knows how much time this book stole from me already. Hyperbole aside, this book wasn't that bad, just a slow read. I never truly got engrossed in it, distracted by the author's use of words found nowhere outside academia, until the end where it was one plot twist after another.

I will give the author credit though for playing with the reader. So many times we want to champion the protagonist, despite their flaws. By the end of the book I was disgusted with both...more
Dominique Jacques
Nul. Que de poncifs! Au mieux le thème d'une série TV. Le monde des tabloïds anglais par une journaliste anglaise. Mal traduit?
this is a tough one. equal parts dismay and disgust at modern journalism. my initial adoration of the elder protagonist quickly soured as the shallowness of the book progressed, but the depth was there, the frustration and desire to be above the modern tabloid styles. the twists . . . totally unnecessary and predictable. what should have been satisfaction at the end was tainted by a harsh reality ending, really this book is make-for-tv, and sadly forgettable.
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