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Brother of the More Famous Jack

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,387 Ratings  ·  293 Reviews
Back in print, the debut novel that redefined the coming-of-age genre, now with an introduction by New York Times bestselling author Maria Semple.

Ask today's favorite novelists what books influenced their writing and you'll hear Brother of the More Famous Jack again and again.Worn dog-eared copies of this long out-of-print novel are highly prized and shared enthusiasticall
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Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by Bloomsbury USA (first published October 1st 1982)
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Katharine Harding I think it's William Yeats (the Irish poet) and his more famous brother Jack (the artist) - it's mentioned in passing fairly early on in the book.
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Community Reviews

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Anmiryam
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found a used copy of this book last summer based on Maria Semple's ('Where'd You Go Bernadette) listing of favorite books in Huffpost. When she reiterated her love for it in her recent 'By The Book' profile in the New York Times, I knew it was time to actually read it. The verdict? Maria Semple has great taste. This short coming of age novel is funny, tragic and heartwarming and it's DNA is all over 'Bernadette'. Let me state right now that this book deserves to be brought back into print in t ...more
Dana

This book took a while for me to get into but once I did I enjoyed it. The writing flows nicely and it allowed me to read at a quick pace. I did find the characters to not be even remotely relatable, although for me this did not take away from the novel very much. Some of their choice baffled me to no end, but I did find everyone rather likeable in a very quirky and eccentric way. 3.5/5


Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Carlos Carranza Carranza
Con un estilo elegante, duro a veces y una gran modernidad para la época en la que fue escrito (1982), Barbara Trapido nos cuenta la vida de Katherine desde sus dieciocho años hasta la edad adulta. Unos diálogos ingeniosos, unos personajes carismáticos y un sentido del humor muy fino han sido los aspectos que más me han gustado, además de la forma de tratar la evolución de la protagonista, y ver cómo la Katherine que conocemos en las primeras páginas no es la misma de la que nos despedimos en la ...more
Sub_zero
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2016
Controvertida e indisciplinada novela de formación en la que acompañaremos a una chica inglesa llamada Katherine a lo largo de su adolescencia y madurez en el seno de una familia "adoptiva" que hace de todo menos avenirse a las normas y protocolos de clase. La novela de Trapido es sin duda una lectura muy estimulante que juega a contrariar los convencionalismos propios de este tipo de relatos: plagada de personajes tan fascinantes como rocambolescos, El hermano del famoso Jack contiene momentos ...more
Marianne
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brother of the More Famous Jack is the first novel by British author, Barbara Trapido. It won the 1982 Whitbread Special Prize for Fiction. Katherine Browne is somewhat surprised to gain a University place in London after her interview with philosophy Professor Jacob Goldman, and even more surprised to find herself taken to his country house by a prospective lover. It becomes the first of many visits, as Katherine is enveloped into this large family’s chaotic life. Almost inevitably, she falls f ...more
Andrea
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book! Firstly, for some reason I expected it to be set in the USA, but I was delighted to find the action took place primarily in England, with little forays into Europe. Secondly, I loved every one of the Goldman family characters (I wanted to be Katherine, to spend time with them) and Katherine herself grew into a well-developed, admirable character too. In fact I find myself with the urge to take up the knitting needles - one of Kath's many talents, variously lauded and de ...more
Darrell Reimer
May 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A close friend loves this book and wondered if I'd care to read it. I did not get off to a promising start with it. I was not smitten with the narrator, Katherine, a young woman who floats into the lives and beds of others, making casual observations of her changing reality, only to get walloped by the emotional aftermath of being Gamed. I grit my teeth and stayed with it, though -- and was glad I did. Shortly past the midway mark, she returns to the scene where it all got started. Over the cour ...more
Julia Vaughan
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a heady nostalgia-trip-read for me. For an England I have left behind, and one that possibly doesn't exist anymore with the anti-intellectualism that seems to have swept the country. And for my 'youth' of long ago when when I first laughed and cried over this book. It is an intensely English book - full of anachronisms that even I don't get anymore, but the book still works if one just skips on by. She writes with such verve that you find yourself laughing even when you don't quite get t ...more
Beth Peninger
Sep 06, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA for this advanced copy. In exchange for a pre-publish copy I am giving an honest review.

Originally published in 1982 and now being re-released in November 2014 is Trapido's book that has been named by several authors as the book that influenced their writing the most. With reviews/recommendations like that I definitely wanted to read it!
It's a coming of age book featuring Katherine. She's 18 and is introduced to her philosophy professor's large family,
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Erin
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely loved Katherine and the warm, sardonic Goldman family, who couldn't have appeared more real to me if they were sitting in my lounge room.

Because the dialogue is so quick-witted and rich and paints a perfect image of each of the characters, the narration doesn't feel laborious or unnecessary (e.g. I adored the way Trapido describes the minor character of Katherin's mum as "a creature of fixed habits, who could only wash dishes from left to right" - this says more about a complex chara
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Hally
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5.

This book masquerades as a cosy read. It has been described as such by many reviewers, and the 'serving suggestion' on the back cover by Rachel Cooke from the Sunday Times is to consume the story in a bed of fresh linen whilst munching on Marmite on toast. I was very much taken by this description as I am a big fan of both fresh sheets and toast with Marmite. When you first settle down in a clean bed with your plate of toast however, you aren't mindful of the uncomfortable reality that will
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Lauren Albert
May 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Charming. The narrator is an (accidental) philosophy student, smart but self-effacing, who falls in love with her philosophy professor's whole family, and then their oldest son. It is hard not to fall in love with the family--the philosopher father who tells everyone how much he likes having sex with his wife, the mother who is matter-of-fact and sweetly bossy in her mothering (she has six children so there is a lot of mothering to do), the children who through benign neglect develop their own v ...more
Maddy
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the finest Domestic realism books I have ever read! Trapido is an author I had never heard of until the ABC Book club featured her as their classic last month and I am glad to have found her exquisite poetic prose.

The story itself revolves around an unconventional family, their children and their friendship with Katherine, the patriarchs philosophy student, and later lover of two sons. It's a very simple story and not a lot happens in their lives, in fact their lives are quite ordinary,
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Wendi
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When Bloomsbury offered Brother of the More Famous Jack for early review of the reprint of this classic British novel, I was intrigued by the odd title and the lovely cover.

When I read the blurb by Elizabeth Gilbert, whom I like very much, and that Trapido is a a well known and celebrated author in Britain, and this is novel is a witty observation on manners, relationships, and a female bildungsroman, my brain became all inflated with anticipation.

But then I started this story about a narcissist
...more
Alyisha
I read "Brother of the More Famous Jack" because Maria Semple (author of "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?") said it was one of her all-time favorite books. It didn't turn out to be one of mine.

It was fine, but I found it difficult to get into - I think, in part, due to the style. There's A LOT of dialogue. It's weird that such a thing would interfere with my interest, because I LOVE a lot of dialogue-heavy things (like "Gilmore Girls," for instance) - but I can think of no other explanation. I also
...more
Kandace
Barbara Trapido’s Brother of the More Famous Jack follow Katherine Browne as she leaves girlhood and struggles to surface as a complete woman. Katherine, the only child of a prim, inhibited mother and a deceased father, enters into university under Jacob Goldman, an independent, eccentric professor whose family comes to adore Katherine. After a heartbreaking end to her first love, Katherine begins a journey of discovery that takes her across the continent and through many beds. After an incredib ...more
Corene
A somewhat strange and delightful novel. It reads like a quirky period piece, but was actually first published in 1982, with the story beginning in the 1960s, and continuing to the (then) present day. It's filled with baffling slang and colloquialisms and profanity, but that is part of it's charm.

A young university student visits her professor's Sussex home, to find a vibrant, intellectual and cuttingly articulate family. It's not really a spoiler to say she starts out involved with one of the
...more
Ekaterina M.
Primera lectura: Febrero 2016
Puntuación: 5/5

El libro se ha ganado un puesto entre mis favoritos y no os lo recomiendo, os ruego que lo leáis. Hay mucho trasfondo en la historia, que no es nada superficial, muy entretenida y con unos momentos preciosos. También me ha gustado que de vez en cuando tenga unos toques de humor inteligentes, nada estúpidos. Si estáis buscando una novela bonita, con muchas enseñanzas y unos personajes entrañables, tenéis que leer este libro.

Reseña completa: http://blogi
...more
Sharon
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I had read this book last month so that it would mean something if I said it was my favorite book of the year. I came across it in my local indie much the way Maria Semple describes in her introduction, and fell in love with the title and the cover as much as with the first page. Delicious and delightful, with nods to Janes Eyre and Austen, putting me in mind of both I Capture the Castle and Fear of Flying!
Vanessa
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
This book creeps up on you slowly. The story follows a young naïveté who enters the world of the cultural & philosophical Goldman's and what an introduction! The characters are all eccentric and flawed in their own way but also feel so welcoming. It's their perceived flaws that make you fall in love with them and all their nuances. I didn't want to rush reading this as I enjoyed being in their world so very much.
Kate
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that bears the very unusual distinction of being very good literature and a damned good read. Characters that make you fall in love with them and fast paced vivid dialogue.
Meg
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe 4.5 stars, really, because this one takes a minute to get into. It’s very British, very intimate, and has little plot other than the life events of the narrator. Basically it’s the story of a young woman who falls in love with a family. I can relate to this so much, having been transfixed by a family very different from my own when I was a teenager. The dialogue and the characters were memorable and charming, and I laughed out loud so often while reading this that I’ve had to tell stranger ...more
Sarah
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Both dated and timeless; I can understand both why it's relentlessly praised and why it went out of print. Katherine, John Millet, and the various Goldmans are all deeply flawed but appealing at the same time. The book is nothing big or flashy, just a young woman's coming-of-age, the little details of domestic life and assorted relationships. It's quietly interesting.

Great title.
Erika
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book quite by accident. I was overseas and my e-reader died. Thank goodness my travel companion had ‘real’ books... and amongst them was this treasure... I borrowed it again this week to finish it off (and went back quite some way, as I wanted to remember the vibe of the story)... and it was delicious. Nuff said :)
Ps. Thanks Diane 😊
Lauren Rochford
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Mmmmm this book is delicious it's so perfect. I'm sitting here trying to decide the best time of year for an annual reread and it has JUST occurred to me (I might be insane) that Brother of the More Famous Jack is basically Little Women told from Laurie's point of view....if Laurie was a girl and there was a lot of sex throughout. Oh my god. Yes.
Natalie McPhee
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
English coming of age and beyond story, funny, tragic and totally engrossing.
Pop Bop
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
A Prize in Every Box

If you enjoyed the sturm und drang that was the Royal Tenenbaum household, (as imagined by Wes Anderson), or if you followed with fascination and dismay the adventures of Augusten Burroughs as he ran with scissors among the members of the Finch family, or if you just like brilliant cross-talk, well then have I got a book for you.

Our heroine, Katherine, is smart, feisty, ruefully observant, brutally honest and self-aware, and articulate in a reserved but arresting fashion. The
...more
Rachel
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
Wonderful coming of age book about a young woman and her encounters with a delightfully eccentric family, lead by a Jewish philosophy lecturer, a stay at home mum and six children in various stages of their life development.

We follow Katherine from being a woefully naive, young 18 year old with no much to worry about aside from an overbearing mother to being a mother herself nearly twelve years later. The book is split primarily into two with the first encounters with the Goldman's taking up th
...more
Karen
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Katherine is 18 years old and living quietly with her mum when she is thrown into the folds of a boisterous, loving, kind of nutty family called The Goldmans. Brought there by a mysterious older man she meets in a bookstore, she is quickly introduced to Jacob Goldman, who happens to be her new philosophy professor at university, his magnificent wife, pregnant for the 6th time and his many strong willed, handsome children. Katherine is immediately entwined into the drama and complicated relations ...more
Trisha
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, comedy, romance, adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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“She could surely rise to a dishwasher, but she prefers to use her children. She believes that a row of children chopping vegetables is a better thing than a machine.” 3 likes
“It's a showy habit I've got," I say. "To be always quoting poetry and stuff. Some of us use our brains, and some of us use our memories.” 3 likes
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