Engleby
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Engleby

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  3,848 ratings  ·  398 reviews
Mike Engleby says things that others dare not even think.





When the novel opens in the 1970s, he is a university student, having survived a 'traditional' school. A man devoid of scruple or self-pity, Engleby provides a disarmingly frank account of English education.





Yet beneath the disturbing surface of his observations lies an unfolding mystery of gripping power. One of his...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 27th 2008 (first published 2007)
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Jeff
“In panic, time stops: past, present and future exist as a single overwhelming force. You then, perversely, want time to appear to run forwards because the ‘future’ is the only place you can see an escape from the intolerable overload of feeling. But at such moments time doesn’t move. And if time isn’t running, then all events that we think of as past or future are actually happening simultaneously. That is the really terrifying thing. And you are subsumed. You’re buried, as beneath an avalanche...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

Too awful to finish: #5 in an ongoing series.

The Accused: Engleby, by Sebastian Faulks

How far I got: 220 pages (two-thirds of the way through)

Crimes:
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, unlike most of the other books at CCLaP that were too awful to finish, Engleby stands accused of only one crime -- of s...more
Maya
This was a really compelling read. I read Birdsong many years ago, and I think that's the only Faulks novel I've ever read--and I frankly don't remember too much about, including whether or not I liked it, so it's unlikely I would have picked this up on my own. An NPR interview steered me in the direction of this book.

A fascinating character study of a sociopath, more telling(particularly early on) in what isn't implicitly stated than in what is. I couldn't put it down. I find myself unable to s...more
James
I had previously read Sebastian Faulk's Charlotte Gray, an historical novel of the best kind both for its historical accuracy and its dramatic characterization. In reading Engleby I found a psychological novel where characterization is brought to the fore with the presentation in the first person. That person, Mike Engleby, gradually becomes several characters as the novel progresses. Much like Dickens, notably in David Copperfield and Great Expectations, Sebastian Faulks's protagonist adopts di...more
Annalee
'Engleby' gripped me from the start. I love books set in Oxford or Cambridge, the whole student scene fascinates me, especially when set in the seventies, it has that retro vibe of a scene I missed out on by a few years. If that wasn't compelling enough for me, the story moves on to London in the eighties, not only the same era I lived in London but also the same part of London I lived in. I ate in the same restaurants as Engleby, we used the same library!

I've been so immersed in Engleby's worl...more
Philippe
My taste in contemporary fiction tends towards authors - Coetzee, Saramago, Barrico, DeLillo, Gustafsson, Murakami, Oshiguro - that master the art of meshing the darkly epic, the philosophically profound and the mildly surrealist into a compelling literary edifice. A few weeks ago I hurriedly picked up a copy of Faulks' Engleby in an airport bookshop. To be honest, I had never heard of Sebastian Faulks but there was something in the introductory paragraph - a mixture of matter-of-factness and gr...more
Jacquie South
Wow. This is an intense and heavy read, but worth it in the long run. It took me a while to get into it, and it floundered a little in the middle, but the overall feeling of this book was gripping, dusturbing, chilling and sad.

As this is written in 1st person, and as the protagonist is a 'loner' with definite social problems, most of the book is dialogue with himself. This can make for heavy reading at times, but it's also quite inthralling looking into the mind of a man whose view of reality an...more
Kurt Keefner
This is a great book, despite the narrative awkwardness that shows up in the end.

It's true that Mike Engleby has a mental illness, but that's not why he's an important character. He's important because there's something of him, sick as he is, in every smart outsider. (And every truly smart person should be at least a bit of an outsider, don't you agree?)

He is fascinated with the popular music of the time, finding significance in it. He politely goes along with people around him, while privatel...more
Ava
Jul 25, 2008 Ava rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people that like psychological dramas and/or suspense
Recommended to Ava by: "men's health magazine"
very interesting story - very disturbing. disturbing because the main character is complicated. you know there is something "off" about him yet you can probably relate to him on some level (unless you had a really "wonder-bread life"). by the end of the book it disturbs you that you were able to relate to him at all (and that such a character could exist - but you know he probably could). i like the twists and the complexity. i also like that it is written in 1st person - you feel like you stumb...more
Sarah
Dec 01, 2007 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: most readers of fiction
Shelves: serious_literary
I was quite captured by this character's voice and perspective. Engleby's relationship to the world around him, the way he views his peers for example, is subtly bizarre in the way he is rational and yet weirdly detached. I found the prose to be frequently stunning and almost always fluid and smart. This reads like a thriller at times. It was a intriguing, moody read that I found enjoyable despite its dark tone. I am glad I found this author and look forward to reading other books by him.
Karlan
Mike Engleby's life story emerges gradually from the 1970s when he was an abused student to the 2000s when he is a successful journalist. The novel becomes darker when a college friend of Engleby's goes missing. His memories contain great blanks, and the reader could assume it was because of the drugs and alcohol he consumes. The unsolved mystery haunts him as memories return and his sanity is unclear.
Bowerbird
Although well written this is not an easy read. If this had been the first Faulks novel I'd read I would not be keen to try more. Towards the end I understood why this book is written in such a way. One is looking into a very dark soul so it cannot be less than bleak. A condemnation of drug culture.
Ron
There's something particularly engaging about the title character, his cynical, arrogant intelligence, the easy way one is let into his mind/world through the text, one gets to be intimate/familiar with him in short order. And it's interesting, structurally, that the dramatic action takes a backseat, in terms of the narrative, and ultimately becomes a vehicle for questioning truth, memory, story-telling, etc. One gets to know Engleby quite well, in many respects, but not at all in other respects...more
Andrew
I’d never read a Sebasitian Faulks book before, being slightly put off by the dreary-sounding settings and plotlines, but I’d been recommended him enough to give him a go, and I am glad that I did. Engleby is set in the 1970s and 80s and gives a first-person account of the life of Mike Engleby, a very intelligent loner and outsider. The main part of the novel takes place in his university years and adult life. Seeing the world through his eyes, from the beginning the reader is encouraged to iden...more
Trevor Willson
Very disappointed as I usually really enjoy novels by Sebastian Faulks, and this one is not up to the standard of Charlotte Gray, Girl At The Lion d'Or or Birdsong.

The lead character Mike Engleby is a serial liar and denier of the truth, constantly re-imaging what has happened, until in the end it is difficult to actually understand what is true and what is false. Perhaps this is the whole premise of the novel, if it is, then it successful. However as a result of this I had no empathy with the c...more
Tony Moore
lead by great reviews and my wife's book club, i read this. started to fall apart around page 170, when the narrator suddenly reveals he has a rage problem. really? where's it been for 169 pages? other things i didn't like:

1. the book is set in the past, and characters make predictions about things that will happen in the future (now) and are of course right. cheap device.

2. There is a short rant about the Iraq war at the end that takes the stance that everyone already knows and embraces.

3. the...more
Laurie
A unique book, sort of as if "Lucky Jim" were actually a murderer. It's also a complex book, starting out as the story of an intelligent but creepy student who stalks a pretty classmate. He becomes a reasonably competent journalist, interviews famous people, moves in with his girlfriend. Then the book changes course in a jolting way, and all becomes clear--or does it? We're in the mind of an extremely unreliable narrator, so we can only choose the version we believe. Faulks is an exquisite write...more
Natasha Chowdory
Faulks has a way of writing that leaves the darker side of human nature laid bare on its pages and you are intimately exposed to it. Whether this is a good or bad thing, I don't know. But what it does show that Faulks is an exemplary writer. Before this, I'd only ever read Birdsong (which was disturbing and sad on a whole other level). So I had a vague idea of what to expect with this one (ish).

On a basic level, Mike is a thirty-something writing retrospectively but for some reason there are a...more
Jeremy
I read Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong a number of years ago - I think I was working in the Somme Valley at the time. I followed that up with Charlotte Grey and was so disappointed when Hollywood made that into a film. I think I felt intelligent reading Faulks, but, like others I honestly can't remember much about either book now.

I picked Engleby up in the local library and read the jacket and felt encouraged to give Faulks another try and I am glad I did. This is a wonderful portrait of a psychotic...more
Janet
Two days after finishing this book I still don’t really know what to write in terms of a review!



The story begins with Mike Engleby starting at university. He looks back at his school days, where he was first bullied and then became the bully - and from then it is written in chronological order. It seems obvious that he is involved with Jennifer’s disappearance but the story builds slowly moving away from university and to Mike’s working life until it reaches its conclusion.



It is difficult to ha...more
Jhanie
Excellent characterization! Here's a book that stands , not as heavily on its plot as with most books, but more on the main character himself. Highly original. I was intrigued by the premise so the pages flew in the first few chapters. Around the middle though, I honestly got a little bored with all those random and mundane stuff going on. It is after all a "diary" , a bare-all account of Mike Engleby's life.

The excitement went back not long after and towards the ending I felt the weight and de...more
Veronica
This is the best book I've read in a while -- it made a nice change to have a book I actually wanted to sit and read, instead of doing a myriad other things. I do admire Sebastian Faulks, although his books are uneven. This is the best since Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War. Once again we're inside someone's head -- but Engleby's head is not a very nice place to be! He's a classic unreliable narrator, claiming to have a near-perfect memory, which has convenient "holes" in it where he wants them...more
Lcbogota
Michael Engleby is a seductive character, highly intelligent, acerbic, an underdog who has struggled to get ahead in life. But he is not quite loveable. As a matter of fact he can be downright sinister. Sympathy for the abuse he suffered as a boy at boarding school, dissipates as he, in turn, becomes the abuser. Heavy drug and alcohol use, and the convenient literary device of memory lapses, let us know early on in the game that something is afoot. A memory lapse is the traditional Chekhovian ri...more
Christopher
This is an outstanding novel on many levels.

As a read, it is an excellent story: the bleak tale of a man fundamentally at odds with society in an environment to which, for many reasons, he has been dealt a rough deal by. As a student from a poor background in Cambridge in the 70s; with an obsession over a 'perfect' girl who disappears. As a mystery it represents a classic page-turner.

But this is a mystery written by Sebastian Faulkes; one of the best storytellers writing today. Without spoiling...more
Chris Tinniswood
Against all expectations, and rather reluctantly, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Unreliable narrators, especially one as pathologically unstable as Mike Engleby, are fun to read. The suspense here isn't about the plot, it's about the reader trying to figure out what to believe and what not to believe. Mike's darkly humorous, sometimes monotonous (in the most literal sense of the word, rather than the emotions it evokes in the reader) voice lays bare the social and political landscape of Thatch...more
Neil Rendall
Didn't like the beginning of this story as our central character is less than likeable. But that's largely the point as we voyage the life of Engleby. There is very little startling about the characters in his life but that doesn't really matter as it's about his life and how he lives it, thinks about it, reflects on it, drifts in it, but ultimately has some steer of it in a dark strange way. Faulks gets quite a lot of consideration about the meaning of existence and how life is deemed to be, bu...more
Dorian
Thanks to my favourite librarian (thanks, Rob!), I have a now not-so-advanced reader's copy of this, Faulks's newest. And there's a lot of good buzz about it. (I kept seeing it in the recommended section of bookstores in San Francisco last week.) Jenny Davidson, of perhaps my favourite blog, Light Reading, likes it, and often that's enough for me.

But the book's left me cold. It's receding quickly into memory--never a good sign. The interest surely lies in Faulks's use of first-person narration....more
Tori Clare
My time is stretched, but I want to try to review at least one book a week. Time for Engleby.

This book was breath-takingly brilliant. It was one of those rare books where incredible writing and an intriguing storyline combine to create, for me, the perfect novel. I was completely bewitched by Sebastian Faulks in this novel. A lesser writer may have lost me. Who would have thought that an ex-Cambridge graduate looking back over his complex life and recounting ragged and random encounters of it, c...more
Jeanne
Stoney-hearted lover, confessional liar, stranger to himself, man with five names, but you'll remember him by one: Engleby.

Who is Mike Engleby? When we meet him, he is a college student. He is a brilliant scholar, but not a social creature at all. He doesn't have any real friends and just kind of hangs out with crowds, even though he's never been formally invited. Through him, we learn of his miserable school days and his abusive father. And the reader feels just a little bit of pity for him.

And...more
LindyLouMac
I found this title rather different to the previous novels I have read by Sebastian Faulks in that this one is a thriller which initially surprised me.

I thought the characterisation of Mike Engleby was excellent. A student at Cambridge when the action, that he narrates to us takes place, he came across as an intelligent young man who is terribly unstable. He unsettled me and I thought he seemed creepy, with his strange behaviour and stalking of Jennifer. Mike is definitely a social misfit who w...more
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Sebastian Faulks was born in 1953, and grew up in Newbury, the son of a judge and a repertory actress. He attended Wellington College and studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, although he didn’t enjoy attending either institution. Cambridge in the 70s was still quite male-dominated, and he says that you had to cycle about 5 miles to meet a girl. He was the first literary editor of “The Independe...more
More about Sebastian Faulks...
Birdsong Charlotte Gray A Week in December Devil May Care (James Bond, #36) The Girl at the Lion d'Or

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“I'd never chosen to be alone, but that was the way things had turned out, and I'd grown used to it.” 27 likes
“Have you ever been lonely? No, neither have I. Solitary, yes. Alone, certainly. But lonely means minding about being on your own. I've never minded about it.” 27 likes
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