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Brother of the More Famous Jack

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,841 ratings  ·  343 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
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by Bloomsbury USA (first published October 1st 1982)
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Emer Brother of the More Famous Jack is WB Yeats. WB Yeats was an Irish poet and Nobel Laureate.

Jack B Yeats was an Irish artist.

There is also a mention …more
Brother of the More Famous Jack is WB Yeats. WB Yeats was an Irish poet and Nobel Laureate.

Jack B Yeats was an Irish artist.

There is also a mention somewhere in Brother of the More Famous Jack of 'Lady Gregory' chairs. She was a patron of WB Yeats and a member of the Anglo Irish aristocracy. She collected Irish Folklore.
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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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

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.

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
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
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
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
Robert Blumenthal
This is a novel that definitely lived up to all the hype. Written in the early 1980s, it is a very clever and poignant book that deals with class and love in England. Katherine becomes the student of Jacob Goldman, a professor of philosophy. A bisexual man named John, unbeknownst to Katherine, takes her to her professor's house and she becomes the darling of their eccentric family. The matriarch, the beautiful Jane embraces her as if she is her own daughter, and the oldest son Roger, very good l ...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,
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
Madeeha Maqbool
Apr 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
Thoroughly annoying.
I can appreciate the strange prose and her intelligent turns of phrase but basically, the male characters are all alike and the female characters are alike so... well what more is there to say?
Ok there is one more thing - one ending scene with a woman telling truths about her life in a misogynistic household (to the accompaniment of insults thrown at her from her sons and husband) does NOT make up for the normalising "funny" rhetoric of the book where violence against women,
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
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,
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
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
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
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
On rereading, I enjoyed this as much as I did the first time. I did notice some troubling aspects--sometimes the way race and ethnic identities is discussed seems a bit dated, even as she makes fun of prejudices along the way, it stands out as being overdone. This book is delightful while also being about some sad subjects--a death of a child and a young woman who lets herself be mistreated in several relationships. And rape gets mentioned by men in the book in a playful way, which is horrid. Bu ...more
Nov 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mostly insufferable and childish, with some real emotion and truthtelling about sex and motherhood thrown in. Each sentence has been massaged and plucked and oiled to within an inch of its life, which is totally exhausting. Just as problematically, the characters read like the ones you dream up as a 10-year-old child, when you think the goal of fiction is to immerse yourself, the writer, in the world you'd like to live in, one peopled exclusively with brilliant, rude, loving people who talk the ...more
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!
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. ...more
Jane Gregg
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely devoured this most excellent and enjoyable hidden treasure. A new found ‘domestic’ fiction genius perfect for those who favour the Penelopes (Lively and Fitzgerald), or even perhaps our dear Elizabeth Jane Howard. Bloody marvellous.
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.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book at a used bookstore and bought it based on the cover (beautiful), the price ($1), and the fact that Maria Semple wrote a forward for this edition (in which she talks about stumbling on it for the first time while “picking through the dollar bin at a library book sale”). I wasn’t disappointed. The characters, particularly those who belong to the large Goldman family, are, on the whole, unlikeable assholes, but there is the smallest spark of charm underneath that kept me from wri ...more
Hamish Grable
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This coming of age story follows eighteen year old protagonist Katherine, who is thrown into the maelstrom of the Goldman household
Eccentric, forthright Professor Jacob – a ‘creative and inspired grumbler’ – his kind but sharp wife Jane, and their six children provide a world of which Katherine has no experience. They are in turns enchanting, frustrating, and bewildering – for the reader as much as Katherine
Like many of the novels I enjoy, Brother of t
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
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5. despite myself i do really enjoy this kind of funny book, about quirky bougie rich families who talk about books and plays and things, but it's an enjoyment with a fall built into it, especially when it's an older book. its heart is in the right place i think but there are so many asides and subplots that are casually offensive that even when it's sending up racists or sexists or whoever you can't help but feel like from another perspective it would feel a lot less benign

having said that, t
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit meandering but incredibly charming nonetheless. Even though so much of the dialog is small talk and casual conversation, she paces you along the story beautifully and naturally. I never once felt bored or like anything dragged on.

The book is like a perfect bite of cake balanced with a strong cup of black tea and milk. Not too much, not too little. Not too bitter, not too sweet. At the end of it, you had a lovely time.
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.
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 😊
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