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Higher Ed

2.78  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  30 reviews
‘A wryly passionate, slyly political and engrossing concatenation of London lives, that only a Londoner by choice could have written.’ China Miéville

'Wonderful narration. Wonderful map of the archipelago. Embark and discover it!' John Berger

London. Now. And here come the new Londoners.

Francine would prefer to be thinner, but is happy enough to suffer her boss' manhandling
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 27th 2015 by Scribe UK (first published March 10th 2015)
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Average rating 2.78  · 
Rating details
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Jul 28, 2015 rated it liked it


Posted in full

When I travel to London, I take the long coach there and spend most of my visits in a tube station, waiting for the next stop. Being in London feels much different to being at home and I spend a lot of my time people watching as busy Londoners head off in all different directions. You don’t get a moment’s peace. Reading Higher Ed was a bit like one of my trips to London. I felt like a real people watcher as I watched the five main charac
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love London. I love the fact that it is, along with New York, the city that everyone in the world is familiar with, the city that people flock to visit. London is a city that never fails to amaze me, no matter how many times I visit, there is always something new to see and to do. Along with the historical sights, the amazing shops, the street art, the theatre and the fashion, there are the people. Millions of people, all living together in what is really quite a small space. Tessa McWatt has ...more
Chris Waterford
Oct 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
A story about five characters whose thoughts seem to jump at random from one thing to another. Metaphors seem clunky or inappropriate, like a dog's breakfast. Almost incomprehensible.
Canadian Reader
Set in East London, this is a novel told from multiple points of view, with all of the characters linked (some more closely than others) to a lower tier university that is grappling with austerity measures. Lonely Francine, a middle-aged clerk who works in Quality Assurance, is an American who followed an older boyfriend overseas and was dumped by him some time before the story opens. She muddles through her job, engages in repeated bulimic purges, and regularly checks her internet dating profil ...more
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Higher Ed, by Tessa McWatt, is a beautiful novel that follows five people who from the outside lead very different lives and are from very different backgrounds, but on the inside are searching for the same things.

I enjoyed reading this book very much. The chapters jump around between characters so that the story is told in the five voices. At first this bothered me, especially since chapters are short. I found myself flipping to the character list at the front to remind myself of who they were
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
I wasn't sure about this for quite a while and stuck with it because I was reading it for Book Club but by the end I found I had got involved with the characters and cared about them.

On the other hand...
Higher Ed
Tessa McWatt
Reviewed by Penistone Library Readers’ Group

Generally not liked.
11 members present and only 2 finished the book, most gave up after about 40 pages.
Most did not like the bad language at the beginning but agreed it died away quite quickly, questioning whether it was there for
Wendy Jensen
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This book is about 5 people. Francine, Robin, Olivia, Ed and Katrin and each chapter is about one of them. The setting is in London. I found this not an easy style of writing to read. After the first two chapters I almost quit but it got a bit better. I had a hard time trying to understand the lingo and what it actually meant.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Five people living their lives in London, each chapter told from a different characters point of view. My reason for the two stars is that I couldn't find a connection with the characters. As the story progressed it didn't make me care about any of them, and I really like to read books that make me wonder about the characters long after I'd finished reading. Higher Ed just wasn't for me.
I had a hard time keeping track of the stories and characters in this book. I've read other books with different stories and characters woven throughout that were more readable and connected to a theme.
Scribe Publications
Tessa McWatt brings the traditional campus novel bang up to date … This polyphonic novel owes an obvious debt to Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, but nevertheless [McWatt] manages to make this exuberant but bittersweet tale something all of her own.
Lucy Scholes, The Observer

A wryly passionate, slyly political and engrossing concatenation of London lives, that only a Londoner by choice could have written.
China Miéville

The search for love is at the heart of Tessa McWatt’s work as a writer, and so it is
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(4.5) The missing 0.5? That was me, I fear; not McWatt's well-crafted novel. Unsettled by the CBC and the weather, it took me awhile to appreciate fully what I'd come to expect from the author's other brilliant works. Reading is a duet. Or maybe a symphony if you include world events and what the reader had for lunch. In this case the author's choice of material and her execution were spot on. Give it the chance it deserves.
Dec 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Reminiscent of the TV series Mind Your Language
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fun and easy to read, in spite of the number of characters - I like converging-plot novels because I'm always working out how they're going to join up in the end.
Jo Barton
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting novel about the vagaries of modern life, brought together by the unique perspective of five very different people, all with complex stories to tell.

Their individual stories are told in short and snappy chapters. We get to know them as people and learn about what makes them act in the way they do. Some of them are not always very likeable, but their collective stories really make you think about the vagaries of modern lives. Inevitably, they are all connected in some way, t
Anne Goodwin
Aug 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Francine is grappling bulimia and the menopause along with wondering whether she’ll survive the coming cuts in Quality Assurance. Robin genuinely cares about his students as he philosophises over film and the dread of having a baby with the wrong woman. Olivia wants to put the world to rights but isn’t sure if her law degree will let her, or whether she should start with her own dysfunctional family and the father who’s been hidden from her since she was four. Ed soothes his own loneliness by en ...more
Buried In Print
Following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads, I no longer post my reviews here.

If you would like to read my thoughts on this book, you can view them in the following places:

Posting these links does not constitute permission to duplicate these thoughts anywhere, including corporate-owned sites.

If you read/liked/clicked through to see this review here on GR, many thanks.

Raluca Sandu
Jul 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: firstreads
This book was a little bit weird. I almost gave up after a few pages, but sticked to it and even developed certain empathy for Tessa McWatt's characters eventually.

At the beginning it was a little difficult to catch up and I had to keep going back to the list of characters. And there were probably too many philosophical and witty parts that I didn't fully understand. I'm not sure whether it was my level of English or the writer's complicated thoughts (or both).

Overall I liked the book, but I w
Alix Long
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Higher Ed is a novel that chronicles the lives of five radically different, similarly passionate Londoners who are trying to get to grips with the city that they reside in and the people that live in it. It is a novel full of curiosity, of questions and of the one undying question that each person is forced to confront at some point in their lives. Who will bury us? It is a novel that is as philosophical as it is anthropomorphic. It didn't try too hard to be something it wasn't. It was beautiful ...more
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodreads-win
Goodreads Uncorrected Proof Win

This is about five characters as they come together weaving their tale.

We are thrust into 21st century east London as we watch three different love stories bloom in the world of job cuts and economy downfall. We watch reality hits us in different ways and the ugliness we call life unfolds.

We are face with characters that are not perfect and flawed whose daily life unfolds before us. Each unique but they seem like anyone else. How they handle events in their life an
In "Higher Ed', we glimpse into the lives of 5 characters who live in London. As you read, one gets the feeling of following their lives through a daily video. Sometimes the pace is pensive. Overall, Tessa McWatt shows us the everyday life of average Londoners. If you are expecting the excitement of a Hollywood film, this novel would not fulfill that need.

Thank you GoodReads for the book.
I received this book from a goodreads giveaway. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the stories of each of the characters, but some, like Francine, were much more interesting to me than others, like Olivia. I found the author's writing style to be poetic. Sometimes things were so beautifully stated. Other times, I would have appreciated if things were stated more simply.
Ellen Stafford
Jul 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book in a good reads first read contest.

I personally found it hard to keep track of all the characters in this book. I just think it wasn't my type of book but I can see how others would enjoy it. It's probably more to do with the fact that I read a little each day.
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Uncorrected Proof Copy**

The plot was well thought out and enjoyable but the several point of views annoyed me to the point I didn't want to finish the novel.
Paul Childs
Meh, a lot of talk-talk, but never really builds on the traumatic event that's supposed to be at the heart of the story. Occasional flashes, but overall, sorry, meh.
Judy LeBlanc
Well written, not crazy about the ending. I like tidy endings, this had too many loose ends for me.
Abby Lewis
Jun 15, 2015 rated it liked it
GoodReads Win.

Although I liked the book, I wasn't keen on the 5 character thing each telling their own side,
Other than that I enjoyed the book and would read more from this author.
Mereka Elsworthy
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I won this through the good reads giveaway. I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its twist and turns and quirky bits. A must read for this summer
Jul 19, 2015 marked it as to-read
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Review will be added later.
Clare Scanlan
Oct 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Easy to read, but characters aren't very interesting and not much happens
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Guyanese-born Canadian writer Tessa McWatt is the author of six novels and two books for young people. Her fiction has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award, the City of Toronto Book Awards, and the OCM Bocas Prize. She is one of the winners of the Eccles British Library Award 2018, for her memoir: Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging. She is also a librettist, and works on inte ...more

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