Ian Mapp's Reviews > Engleby

Engleby by Sebastian Faulks
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's review
Apr 17, 2012

it was amazing
Read in August, 2007

** spoiler alert ** Third good book in a row and I must get more of Faulkes.

Told in the first person by our eponymous engleby, this could be thought of as a very English American Psycho. There are some similarities, detailed discussions about music (prog rock), casual disdain for others, superiority complexes and the like.

For three quarters of the book, Engleby takes us through his schooling (naval college and Eton) and his working class upbringing and job as a journalist. Along the way, we know he suffered abuses and got through them by becoming a master thieve and a expert on alcohol (real ale!) and drugs self administration.

But this first three quarters are written from his perspective. About a third of the way through, we know the object of his interest (Jen) has disappeared. Engleby is quite asexual but he does knick her bike and diary.

This is where the book picks up with a slow creeping dread. Engleby chooses to reveal what he will, having lost recollection of key points.

Then the book turns around a bit and in a unique literary style, his book (the one we have been reading) is analysed by psychologists, offering a view on what went before. The detached writing, self importance etc. etc.

He is found guilty of the murder and locked in another institution, this time close to his naval college.

Then, a bit like Steep Approach, there is some unnecessary american bashing.

Very different to Birdsong, which can only be a good thing and blackly humourous, this has been another major success.

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