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The Winshaw Legacy: or, What a Carve Up!
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The Winshaw Legacy: or, What a Carve Up!

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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  4,403 ratings  ·  255 reviews
If Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie had ever managed to collaborate, they might have produced this shamelessly entertaining novel, which introduces readers to what may be the most powerful family in England--and is certainly the vilest. A tour de force of menace, malicious comedy, and torrential social bile, this book marks the American debut of an extraordinary writer.
Paperback, 501 pages
Published January 3rd 1996 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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Susan
What a Carve Up! is so much more than a political novel, though it is certainly that. The Winshaw peeps represent all that was wrong with the greed decade (1980s) in Britain (when people I cared for couldn’t get a job or proper medical treatment on the national health). In spite of my disgust with those times, I’m delighted by Coe’s absolutely horrid, unabashedly over-the-top ‘baddies’ who represent what can go wrong when creeps rule. Also a plus is the ever-shifting narrative from first person ...more
Ηλίας Α.
«Το κόλπο είναι να κάνεις πάντα σκανδαλώδη πράγματα. Δεν υπάρχει λόγος να περνάς μια σκανδαλώδη νομοθεσία και μετά να δίνεις στους άλλους το χρόνο να προετοιμαστούν σχετικά. Πρέπει να παρεμβαίνεις αμέσως και να την επικαλύπτεις με κάτι ακόμα χειρότερο, προτού η κοινή γνώμη προλάβει να καταλάβει το κακό που τη βρήκε».

«Και στο μεταξύ αυτοί κάθονται σπίτι τους και χοντραίνουν με ό,τι αποκομίζουν, κι εμείς είμαστε εδώ. Οι επιχειρήσεις μας πέφτουν έξω, οι δουλειές μας πάνε κατά διαόλου, η ύπαιθρός μα
...more
Stefania T.

Non dire gatto se non ce l'hai nel sacco.

Crisi esistenziali che Amleto levati e famme sfoga'.
Sentendomi alquanto frastornata, gironzolo per casa ciabattando, tentando di arrivare ad una decisione: quanto peso possono avere, quanta importanza posso concedere alle ultime novanta pagine de "La famiglia Winshaw", romanzo corposo ed elaborato e mirabolante?

Bisbigli a destra: "Come puoi dimenticare le quattrocento pagine che ti hanno illuminato i sensori emozionali e tecnici di lettrice? Come? Frega
...more
Ginny_1807
Le malefatte di una famiglia britannica ricca e potente, i cui componenti sono viscidamente abbarbicati ai posti più prestigiosi nella società (finanza, politica, media…) e fanno del thatcherismo il punto di forza della loro sconsiderata avidità, si intersecano con le avventure private di un giovane scrittore, Michael Owen, incaricato di ricostruirne le vicende per scrivere una loro biografia.
Il romanzo presenta spunti tematici molto interessanti, offrendo bozzetti ironici e disincantati della
...more
Becky
This book is absolutely wonderful. I'd read it before a few years ago, and was itching to get my hands on it again. I'm not sure exactly why it's so great - fantastic characterisation, a hugely twisting and turning plot, hilariously funny, consistently surprising...it has it all.

Micheal Owen is an out of luck writer who was commissioned to write a history of the Winshaw Family, a hugely rich and hugely powerful family who between them manage to carve up pretty much every influential sphere of Br
...more
Blair
Black comedy at its finest and a perfect introduction to Jonathan Coe's style. Genuinely harrowing in places (I don't think I will EVER forget the chapter focused on Dorothy) but this is an excellent, effectively told, gripping and funny story - and I loved Michael.
Horza
As someone who was parked in front of a lot of 80s-90s British television at a formative age I have an attachment for the Britain of that period that is probably much the fonder for not having to have lived there. As such, What a Carve Up! was right up my alley.

Coe's rage at the decline of Great Britain's post-war settlement is palpable throughout but diminished by repeated explication (by contrast Mitchell's Cloud Atlas has a similar central theme but leaves it to the pedantic 19th century nar
...more
Tancredi
"Quando uscimmo dall’auto, il cigolio e lo schianto delle portiere aperte e subito richiuse parvero sbriciolarsi ed essere assorbiti anch’essi dalla pace che avevamo intorno: e mi fecero pensare – chissà perché – a segni di punteggiatura abbandonati sul bianco di un foglio vuoto."



Sia lode a Jonathan Coe! Questo è un romanzo capolavoro, anzi, è il romanzo, il romanzo per eccellenza! Che stile, che arguzia, che brio!

Da dove cominciare? C'è così tanto.

Partiamo dalla struttura stessa del romanzo, or
...more
Jasmine
Normally if I don't enjoy a book that someone recommends me I assume that I must be missing something, they like it there must be something great about it.

I don't feel that way about this book. Even though nick hornby says coe is the greatest modern writer and Karen said this was his best book. I am not saying this book is bad, it isn't. It just didn't strike me as horribly amazing. What was great were both endings in the novel. Coe really starts to figure out what people like me want to read w
...more
Jonfaith
This one proved to be a treat. I laughed aloud and found myself exposed, so much of my insecurity was stitched into our broader tale of oligarchy and eroding standards imposed upon those who can't afford anything else.

This is a horror novel and not in the sense that a gruesome revenge is exacted. What remains terrifying is how conservative forces render and corrupt matters in the name of freedom and choice: underfunded schools populated with ill fed children only serves one agenda. What does Vol
...more
Shovelmonkey1
This book was recommended to me by a friend who stated it was a "fun read". Oh my god, is this your idea of fun? Are you crazy, woman? Tired, dull, not-as-funny-as-it-thinks-it-is, satire on 1980's Tory Britain. Blah - the Tories are not funny whichever way you spin them (for those of you wishing to indulge in an experiment to prove this point, feel free to move to the UK and suffer under the current government like the rest of us). I just didn't see the point of this book and it is now filed un ...more
Wilson
A collage of a novel made up of equal parts mystery, socio-political statement, potted family history, meta-textual literary abundance. It is funny throughout, with distinct and often repugnant characters that the reader can really sink their teeth into. It's presentation of a Thatcher-infected Britain of the 1980s and early 1990s is exceedingly effective, as Coe takes pot-shots at the first Gulf War and Arms sales, the method of food production, the print media & television and the art of p ...more
Rachel
I loved this, and can say it's the first book I've really loved in ages. It's, I guess, a comic novel, which normally are not for me - but this totally got me.

It tells the story of the Winshaws, a sprawling and grotesque family full of greedy horrors, and is partly unfolded by our narrator Michael who is writing a history of the family and has plenty of his own problems.

It unfolds so brilliantly and there are so many great characters, it is rewarding from beginning to end. Funny, dark, at times
...more
Laura Faludi
Jonathan Coe certainly does not lack the neccessary brio what his protagonist holds in such a high esteem. A novel, which started as an alloy of a historical panorama of the 80's and a family chronicle takes some dramatic turns just to end in a bloody suspense. Or a parody of a suspense, as the whole book is flavored with a considerable amount of sarcasm and irony. Some parts are very informative, I myself found the desriptions about animal breeding especially dreadful. Coe moves his characters ...more
Paul
Remember when Hollywood used to keep putting out extremely similar movies, two by two, at exactly the same time, like The Truman Show and Pleasantville, or Antz and A Bug's Life? This novel is the companion piece to Iain Banks' slightly better Complicity; in both someone goes around murdering representatives of the vile English establishment in amusing ways. The point is to spin some riffs on the various ways these creeps run the UK. It's all a big revenge fantasy and quite amusing and all that, ...more
R.
The most angry, beautiful, cathartic, devilish, elaborate, fulsome, generous, haunting, intricate, joyful, kaleidoscopic, lustrous, mysterious, naughty, oracular, phenomenal, questing, robust, Satanic, titanic, upsetting, and venomously wild novel I've had the pleasure of reading thus far this year.
Sharktrager
This book, in my opinion, is a masterpiece.

I think it's distinctly English and might not appeal to non Brits but it shouldn't matter.

Hilarious, satirical, heartbreaking, twists you never saw coming, loose ends tied up that you didn't notice were loose.




Zaki
This has an architectural beauty of construction and a plot that Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens would've tipped their hats to. What a Carve Up! is remarkable for the range and nuance of its characters.
Veronica
I read this book when it first came out in the mid-1990s, and it's still my favourite Jonathan Coe novel -- well, maybe joint favourite with The House of Sleep. It sizzles with rage, and yet makes you laugh out loud as well. As Michael, the reclusive failed writer who is the "hero" of the novel writes in a book review:
We stand badly in need of novels, after all, which show an understanding of the ideological hijack which has taken place so recently in this country, which can see its consequences
...more
Zozetta
Το διάβασα για δεύτερη φορά μετά από 14 χρόνια, εξ αιτίας της συμμετοχής μου σε αναγνωστική λέσχη, και το βρήκα ακόμη καλύτερο, ίσως γιατί το διάβασα σε κάποιο άλλο χρονικό σημείο της ζωής μου που μου επέτρεψε να "διαβάσω" διαφορετικά, περισσότερο πολυεπίπεδα. Επαληθεύεται για μια ακόμη φορά ότι το πέρασμα του χρόνου έχει μόνο να χαρίσει σε ένα πραγματικά καλό βιβλίο.
Michelle
This is probably the one and only time that a book was too British for me. Some of the political parts just sailed right past me, but there was one good George Bush joke that didn't fall flat. I like how Jonathan Coe weaves his stories together until all the loose ends just start the beginning of the circle again.
Allan Azulbotón
Obra maestra indiscutible. ¿Cómo una persona puede escribir tan bien? ¿Con tanta sensibilidad, tanto humor, tanto patetismo, tanta tristeza? ¿Cómo se puede escribir una novela moderna, mezclando géneros y estilos, y al mismo tiempo crear un clásico, un referente futuro que tiene tanto de saga familiar como de crítica social, de amor en todas sus formas como de historia? ¿Como puede alguien construir un rompecabezas perfecto y creíble al que cualquiera puede acceder con apenas salir a la calle, v ...more
Luca
Inizio dalle ultime pagine, che non mi sono piaciute. Settanta, più o meno, di giallo all'inglese (per completare il grandioso puzzle di generi assemblato da Coe) però un poco raffazzonato e sbrigativo, se posso permettermi. Come se l'autore avesse fretta di staccarsi dalla sua creazione, di trovarvi un compimento e andarsene. Però lui stesso, alla fine cita Calvino "non vi è nulla di più intenso che un libro lasciato incompiuto". Perchè non lasciarlo incompiuto settanta pagine prima?
Per il res
...more
Elsa
Michael Owen, écrivain débutant et dépressif, s'engage à rédiger l'histoire d'une grande famille anglaise, les Winshaw, à la demande de la vieille Tabitha Winshaw, 81 ans et déclarée folle à lier. Mais voilà, les Winshaw s'avèrent être un repère de magouilleurs en tout genre, vissés aux plus hauts postes de la société anglaise. Le pouvoir et l'argent sont leur devise, ils trustent donc la télévision, la politique, la guerre et l'industrie. Cependant, sous ces allures de bonne famille, leur histo ...more
Vasha7
An angry savaging of the destruction of Britain by a few wealthy individuals, since WWII but especially during the "Thatcher Years"; though written in 1991 (with the Gulf War as recurring theme), a lot of it rings very true for the US in 2010. However serious in intent (and not shying away from depiction of the horrors committed by utterly unscrupulous greed), it is nonetheless written in a cockeyed, at times downright bizarre form, blending the ruined and ruinous personal lives of the criminal ...more
Sara Sbaraglia
La sensazione che ho provato nel chiudere il romanzo a fine lettura è stata quella di essere stata vittima di uno scherzo di gusto eccelso. Uno di quegli scherzi in cui non si può far altro che andarsene ostentando un certo aplomb per non essere derisi ulteriormente. Uno di quegli scherzi da "stacce!". Ma non è stata una sensazione negativa, tuttaltro. Ho pensato "quest'uomo è un fottuto genio del male!" e là è partita la risata.
Probabilmente questo commento può suonare un bel po' strano, ma cer
...more
Nikos
Τα άλλα δυο βιβλία του Κόου που έχω διαβάσει (Η λέσχη των τιποτένιων κι ο Κλειστός κύκλος) είναι σίγουρα ανάμεσα στα αγαπημένα μου μυθιστορήματα. Αυτό εδώ με άφησε με ανάμικτα αισθήματα. Πρόκειται σίγουρα για αριστοτεχνικής δομής έργο. Ο τρόπος που ξεδιπλώνει και δένει σιγά σιγά τα αρχικά ασύνδετα και παράλληλα νήματα της αφήγησης διατηρώντας συγχρόνως την καταγραφή της σύγχρονης μεταπολεμικής ιστορίας της Βρεττανίας κι ειδικά της Θατσερικής περιόδου είναι τουλάχιστον εντυπωσιακός.
Το μυθιστόρημ
...more
Wendy
I've never read anything quite like this before. And yet, because of the way it plays with genre, there is a lot of familiar territory here. It blurs genres, occupying the territory of the detective story, the family saga, comedy, bildungsroman, Gothic, romance, and so on. The lines between them all get blurred together in a fascinating way. The book is in turn gruesome, moving, funny, ridiculous, and remarkably subtle. It is a postmodern novel that revels in play and undermines constructions of ...more
Derek Baldwin
Splendid book which cleverly satirises - among other things - the idle selfish English ruling class, inhumanity generally, the meat industry, the "ooer missus" genre of English films, arms dealers, and much much more, not least the haunted house novel. All of this plus a clever character study of an inhibited man and how he - eventually, ultimately - lives out a fantasy that has plagued him all his life.



Very well written and cleverly constructed, with a well-controlled anger at injustice, and so
...more
Nikki Dudley
This book was strangely readable. I did find it a bit too factual at points and the varying perspectives were sometimes tough when the character was not so interesting. The main character, Mark was actually quite intriguing and I wanted to spend more time with him. There was also a lot of political content here which is interesting for someone who doesn't follow politics religiously, and particularly in light of hindsight - it looks even more hilarious and tragic from today's perspective! The vi ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Jonathan Coe, born 19 August 1961 in Birmingham, is a British novelist and writer. His work usually has an underlying preoccupation with political issues, although this serious engagement is often expressed comically in the form of satire. For example, What a Carve Up! rew
...more
More about Jonathan Coe...
The Rotters' Club The House of Sleep The Rain Before it Falls The Closed Circle The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim

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“The upshot was that she lost her religion - with a vengeance - and walked out on him, taking these three daughters with her. Faith, Hope and Brenda.” 5 likes
“Well, there'll be an outcry, of course, but then it'll die down and something else will come along for people to get annoyed about. The important thing is that we save ourselves a lot of money, and meanwhile a whole generation of children from working-class or low-income families will be eating nothing but crisps and chocolate every day. Which means, in the end, that they'll grow up physically weaker and mentally slower.' Dorothy raised an eyebrow at this assertion. 'Oh, yes,' he assured her. 'A diet high in sugars lead to retarded brain growth. Our chaps have proved it.' He smiled. 'As every general knows, the secret of winning any war is to demoralize the enemy'.” 0 likes
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