The Rotters' Club
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The Rotters' Club (Rotters' Club #1)

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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  4,859 ratings  ·  262 reviews
Birmingham, England, c. 1973: industrial strikes, bad pop music, corrosive class warfare, adolescent angst, IRA bombings. Four friends: a class clown who stoops very low for a laugh; a confused artist enthralled by guitar rock; an earnest radical with socialist leanings; and a quiet dreamer obsessed with poetry, God, and the prettiest girl in school. As the world appears t...more
Paperback, 415 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Vintage (first published 2001)
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Taylor K.
Mar 24, 2008 Taylor K. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like their novels to have a little bit of everything
Much to my delight, this held up very strong on the second read. Before I re-read it, I browsed through some of the reviews others had written on this site, and it made me nervous - maybe I just loved this book so much because I was young and it's about youth, so I just connected to it out of a common vim and vigor.

Not the case.

Not only did I love it the second time around, I think I liked it even more.

As much as I don't like to compare authors so much, I can't help but describe this as Rushdie...more
Todd Sobocinski
A coming of age novel set in Birmingham in the early 70s. There are, I think, three main characters, the most main of whom is Benjamin Trotter. He's this guy, nearly indistinguishable from his friends who all seem to want to become musicians and journalists. By the end of the novel, they all become journalists. But I really am not certain of this. The problem may have been the fact that their names were so unmemorable: Phillip, Doug, Ben. They also had overlapping interests.
The only thing I g...more
Eleni
‘Great guy wishes groovy chick to write, into Tull, Pink Floyd, 17-28.’

‘Wanted girl friend, any age, but 4 ft. 10 in. or under, all letters answered.’

“Guy, 18, cat lover, seeks London chick, into Sabbath. Only Freaks please.”

“Freaky Guy (20) wants crazy chick (16+) for love. Into Quo and Zep”

Leeds boy with scooter, looks OK, seeks girlfriend 17-21 for discos, concerts. Photo appreciated

[Note: the above are quotations from genuine lonely hearts advertisements in Sounds (1973)]


Why the hell had I n...more
Justin Evans
This gave me almost everything I want. What do I want from a novel? I want it funny but sincere; hard-nosed but sentimental; readable but formally interesting; restrained but also balls to the wall. Ideally it'll be concerned with social events while grounding them in personal lives.
RC isn't laugh out loud funny, but it's pretty funny. I felt a bit bad laughing at people who get excited at the culinary possibilities of sour cream and sometimes Coe takes too many cheap shots of the 'boy the seve...more
Paolo
Il club dei rotter (il titolo originale, preso in prestito da una canzone, è un gioco di parole con il cognome della famiglia del protagonista principale del romanzo, Benjamin Trotter) lascia soddisfatti a metà. Forse perché il libro è di fatto un incompiuto, separato artificialmente dal suo seguito naturale (pubblicato poi in Circolo chiuso), ma il sapore che resta al termine della lettura copre, fino quasi a sfumarlo, il gusto di aver assistito a un maestoso, cupo affresco dell'Inghilterra deg...more
Artness Gilekaki
Να και εγώ στον γνώριμο κόσμο-για πολλούς-του Τζόναθαν Κόου.
Και τελικά όσοι μου το έλεγαν είχαν δίκιο,αξίζει.Πολύ!
Υπέροχος λόγος και μετάφραση,αρχικά.Το περιεχόμενο με μετέφερε σε περιοχές και ιστορίες που δεν ήξερα.Επίσης όλο το βιβλίο έχει μουσικές και αυτό το κάνει μοναδικό,με τις υποσημειώσεις του.Επίσης εξαιρετικό το επίμετρο-σχόλιο μιας εποχής άγνωστης στην χώρα μας.Αλήθεια,πόσο φωτίζεται η βρετανική κοινωνία μέσω του Κόου;Πολύ,θα έλεγα.
Οπότε συνεχίζω δυναμικά στον κόσμο του Κόου,καθώς μάλ...more
Celine Keating
There is a heartfelt bravura chapter at the end of this novel that is beyond extraordinary. It alone would be worth reading the novel for. I haven't read any other reviews, professional or otherwise, so I may be saying what everyone has already said, but to my mind there were strong echoes of James Joyce and the famous Molly Bloom soliloquy.

There's not a lot of plot here, more an episodic approach to a group of friends, a town, a time, but the writing is so original and the characters so appeali...more
Tancredi
Istintivamente ci voltammo tutti verso la finestra e guardammo fuori, verso la spiaggia, e adesso quando ripenso a quel pomeriggio il mio ricordo più nitido è la luce che vedemmo, quel cielo da pittori, grigioazzurro come gli occhi di Marie e dei suoi nipoti, il colore di un dolore che non se ne andrà mai.

E' proprio vero: La banda dei Brocchi ha fatto per gli anni Settanta ciò che La famiglia Winshaw aveva fatto per gli anni Ottanta: un ricchissimo spaccato di società e vita inglese durante un d...more
Jim
This reminded me of "The Secret Lemonade Drinker", but this book had greater depth (or is that true, when Bellamy's novel has stuck in my memory for such a long time?) A novel like this just usually doesn't appeal to me, and normally I'd be asking "What's the point?" by page five. "What's the point" of creating vaguely comic fiction over vaguely interesting characters set in a vaguely interesting time? But the novel drew me in with its easy style, likeable characters and occasional strong narrat...more
Sera
I had read The Rain Before It Falls and the House of Sleep by the same writer before. I loved those two books as well but they are definitely not as good as the Rotters' Club. I am even going to say "nothing more than nice reads" when they are compared to this one.

As one of those impressing novels which is both hilarious and touching at the same time with all those bittersweet moments of characters, The Rotters' Club is more than an average coming of age story. The political background and 70s...more
Tahira
It took me at least 100 pages to finally settle into The Rotter's Club. It certainly does not fit the kind of profile of book that I tend to read, but I was feeling a little uninspired and this book was recommended to me.

It was hard to keep track of the layered plot lines initially, but I eventually got a hold of them. I also felt as though I would have been better equipped had I known more about Britain during the 1970s. But there was something charming about a lot of the characters, perhaps be...more
Germano Dalcielo
Ho comprato questo libro sulla scia delle recensioni entusiastiche che si trovano online, ma, ahimè, già dalle prime 25 pagine volevo lanciare il libro dalla finestra. Si viene catapultati nell'Inghilterra degli anni '70 in un contesto storico-sociale che per un lettore non anglofono non è facile inquadrare o ricostruire su due piedi, per non parlare del "pallottoliere" umano di cui si rinuncia in partenza a fissare parentele, amicizie, legami di sangue o relazioni sentimentali. Si prosegue nell...more
Philtrum
It’s something of a mystery to me how I missed this book for so many years. It was published in 2001 but I didn’t get around to reading it until 2013.

I had been aware of it, vaguely. Had I know what it was about, I’m sure I would have read it much sooner.

Why? Well, aside from the fact I couldn’t have written it – not having the necessary literary skills – it might have been about my life.

The story concerns a group of four boys who attend a public (private) school in Birmingham (UK) in the 1970s,...more
Jane
A very well written, witty novel. Set in Birmingham in the 70's in the midst of industrial action, IRA bombings, a political time and later on the punk rock era. The story is set in a boy's grammar school very much like the one my husband attended on the other side of Birmingham. Viewed by labour voters, socialists and communists as elite, only attainable by an entrance exam. You feel the competitiveness to achieve in academic studies and sports. It is very easy to imagine school bullies looking...more
Paula
I guess I'm kind of a sucker for books set in England. I just love to visit there in my imagination. And this book was particularly interesting to me not only because I am roughly the age of the characters, but also because I learned so much about Britain in the 70's. Did you know that Eric Clapton once went on a racist rant at one of his concerts in England in the mid-70's? I had never heard that. I also didn't know that there were so many strikes and so much labor unrest at that time. But real...more
Rowan
This was really good! The plot and characters twist, and sometimes I did have to go back and re-read sections to recall who was who, but that adds to the fun of the story.


Four families, their stories told mostly by their school age sons, live in Birmingham in the 70's. The book is about England in those times (Freaks, the music scene, hippies, punk, the unions, the working class, the Jamaican immigrants, the IRA) and how lives of ordinary people are impacted by the changing times. Since the main...more
Anna Savage
The jacket played this novel up as comedic and hysterically funny, and although that's not entirely false, it skewed my attitude going in and possibly made me like the book less. I kept expecting to laugh, and I didn't. Not even once. The story is just as sad and nostalgic as it is funny. That's not a bad thing, but it did seem a little conflicted in tone throughout. I also hated the obviously set up to be made into a movie structure of the story, and the fact that it ends entirely without resol...more
Elisa
I feel bad about giving this 2 stars, because I love the way Jonathan Coe writes. But unfortunately I only made it to the three quarters mark before I decided not to continue. It's not a bad story, but it's so slow. I just got too bored. If it was a quarter of the length, I'd probably give it 4 stars. It doesn't help that I'm not interested in politics either, this being a major part of the story. I mainly like the way he writes about relationships and interactions, but affair after affair begin...more
Tom
A glimpse into the decade in which I was born but never knew.

Whether teenage to adult, prog rock to punk, Labour to Tory, racist to tolerant or loner to lover this is a sometimes unnecessarily repulsive but often hilarious story of a group of teenagers and a nation growing up and changing - for better or worse.

Some reviewers complained of being bogged down by too many characters and interweaving stories but I didn't find this confusing or offputting at all.

An enjoyable and easy read which makes...more
Paul The Uncommon Reader
My world

Ah, this is an easy review to write!

I loved this book for entirely selfish and ego-centric reasons: it was written by a man of my nationality, age and social class. It is set in his/my teenage years, and its references, events, feel and whole approach is so close to my own, that every few pages I felt I was back there, a teenager in 1976 whose life centre consisted of pretentious prog rock bands, strange encounters with utterly non world-changing things like girls and personal religion (

...more
Surymae
Nella mia scala di giudizio su aNobii le quattro stelline sono piuttosto prestigiose - e credo che non sia una grande rivelazione. Ha qualcosa in meno di un libro con il grado massimo, ma è comunque molto buono. Tre stelle, invece, è quel libro "bravo ma no": un sei d'incoraggiamento, diciamo, più positivo che negativo.
Però, per me le tre stelle de "La banda dei brocchi" sono meno lusinghiere di quello che sembrano. Jonathan Coe, mi ha abituato a libri molto migliori: romanzi che, se fosse stato...more
Luca
Mi piace tantissimo come Coe racconta le storie. Come riesce a non perdersi mai, a svelare le vicende dei suoi personaggi in quel suo modo così particolare che non sono capace di descrivere bene. Direi quasi come quegli artisti che per comporre un'immagine seguono un percorso tutto loro e, osservandoli, subito non intuisci cosa salterà fuori. Ti incuriosisci e stai a guardarli, non capisci con quale ordine procedono ma alla fine il disegno ti compare davanti agli occhi e ti sorprendi di come si...more
Ernesthc
It's tempting to categorise "The Rotters' Club" as a light coming-of-age comic read, a Liebfraumilch and scampi and chips of a book. However, it is much more than this. Coe recreates Birmingham in the seventies realistically and comically. Through Ben Trotter (Bent Rotter), he depicts convincingly a clever grammar school boy whose emergence into adulthood is a growing awareness that the adult world is tedious and small-minded, yet sinisterly menacing.
Toby Hopkins
Good. Not as good as What a Carve Up. Combines social history of the 1970s set around the longbridge plant (Red Robbo vrs Michael Edwardes), Grunwick, grammar schools, sexual exploitation and violence and Birmingham pub bombing with the coming-of-age story of a group of intertwined lives.
Easy to read.
I felt for the characters. Initially was won over by the intertwining of personal stories and 70s history.
There were too many changes of voice as the book went on - telling the story through diff...more
Dave Wharton
Phenomenal plot, and excellent main characters. It was so gripping, I read it in just a couple of sittings over a long weekend.
My only (slight) gripe is that were are so many other characters involved in the multiple overlapping sub-plots, I had to draw a chart to keep track of them all and the interrelation between them.
Byax
Come chiunque

Primo romanzo che leggo di Coe, è riuscito a catturarmi senza adottare particolari tecniche di seduzione, lasciando fluire con naturalezza i protagonisti e le loro esperienze, dove la semplicità — grazie al cielo — ha regnato sovrana. Ragazzi come tanti (come chiunque di noi), con le loro speranze e incertezze, che tentano di dare un senso al futuro sapendo di arrancare ancora nel presente.
La leggerezza usata dall'autore, anche negli squarci politici, riesce a rendere partecipi in m...more
Nicoletta
I just admire Coe. This combination of History, Bildungsroman, Love, Music in the gloomy Birmingham area is amazing. Coe never lets me down, he is one of the best....
Adam Cartwright
What Coe achieves more than any other author i have read, is a blurring of the lines between characters, settings, symbols and times. Each of these things can be taken at face value, allowing for a still very enjoyable reading experience, but when the resonances of each event seem to continuously trickle through the rest of the novel, manifesting themselves in the most unexpected of places, Coe achieves a mastery over mood like no other modern author I know.

This is especially prevalent in the fi...more
Cristina
Difficult to write about this book - i found it hard to read it at first as I do not know anything about teenage boys in a Birmingham school in the 70's and all the cultural connotations (sex pistols, the politics (apart form M. Thatcher), the unions etc). I found it hard to keep track of all the persons in the book and some of the expressions. Having said that, I read it quickly on a flight bangkok/London (which is always a good sign) and there are parts of it which I found a pleasure to read (...more
Nick Hansen
I forgot to write this review after finishing the book. I also ended up reading the companion novel, The Closed Circle before writing this review. Ooops.

Instead of writing about what actually happens in the book (spoilers!) what struck me was the number of unexpected turns the story took. There is very little to say about the book that doesn't end up needing a spoiler alert tacked on the front. So lets just say the story is highly inventive and deeply layered. These are things that are truly com...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 House of Sleep What a Carve Up! The Rain Before it Falls The Closed Circle The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim

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“Sometimes I feel that I am destined always to be offstage whenever the main action occurs. That God has made me the victim of some cosmic practical joke, by assigning me little more than a walk-on part in my own life. Or sometimes I feel that my role is simply to be a spectator to other people's stories, and always to wander away at the most important moment, drifiting into the kitchen to make a cup of tea just as the denouement unfolds.” 16 likes
“These pieces, he already realised, were merely stepping stones at the start of a journey towards something - some grand artefact, either musical, or literary, or filmic, or perhaps a combination of all three - towards which he knew he was advancing, slowly but with a steady, inexorable tread. Something which would enshrine his feelings for Cicely, and which she would perhaps hear, or read, or see in ten or twenty years' time, and suddenly realize, on her pulse, that it was created for her, intended for her, and that of all the boys who had swarmed around her like so many drones at school, Benjamin had been, without her having the wit to notice it, by far the purest in heart, by far the most gifted and giving. On that day the awareness of all she had missed, all she had lost, would finally break upon her in an instant, and she would weep; weep for her foolishness, and of the love that might have been between them.

Of course, Benjamin could always just have spoken to her, gone up to her in the bus queue and asked her for a date. But this seemed to him, on the whole, the more satisfactory approach.”
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