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High Dive

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  2,100 ratings  ·  324 reviews
In September 1984, a bomb was planted at the Grand Hotel in the seaside town of Brighton, England, set to explode in twenty-four days when the British prime minister and her entire cabinet would be staying there. High Dive not only takes us inside this audacious assassination attempt--a decisive act of violence on the world stage--but also imagines its way into a group of ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Knopf (first published October 2nd 2014)
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jo the language is very lyrical and yet snappy. there is action. if this is what you mean, i recommend maybe The Nix by nathan hill. if you want more fas…morethe language is very lyrical and yet snappy. there is action. if this is what you mean, i recommend maybe The Nix by nathan hill. if you want more fast paced, look at the Niceville trilogy by carsten stroud.

if you want more ireland, then maybe someone else? (less)

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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  2,100 ratings  ·  324 reviews

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Sep 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
'High Dive' features fictional characters, interwoven with the very real events of the bombing of the Grand Hotel, Brighton in 1984. The author introduces his characters very early on, as the story weaves between Brighton and Belfast, plenty of time to get to the bones of these people. 18 year old Dan is living with his mother( one of only two Catholic families) in a predominantly Protestant area of Belfast. He feels the need to 'help the cause' and is initiated into the IRA. He is greeted with ...more
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the very beginning of this novel, when eighteen year old Dan is ‘initiated’ into the IRA, I was totally hooked. Author Jonathan Lee has chosen a controversial subject matter; the bombing of the Grand Hotel during the Conservative Party conference in 1984. It is an event that I remember very well indeed and Lee humanises the news story by looking at it through the eyes of several involved characters.

Dan is a young man living in divided city – a Catholic living in a largely Protestant street.
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book came to my attention during this years Tournament of Books. High Dive didn't make it out of the opening round, after a close match up with the somewhat contentious The Mothers. Nevertheless, the synopsis did appeal to me with its promise of "taking us inside one of the twentieth century’s most ambitious assassination attempts".

I feel, not for the first time this year, to be a victim of some sort of literary bait and switch. The opening chapter of this seemed to promise a taut novel
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Arc of a Diver
[3.6 stars]


The novel, set in 1984, centers around a luxury hotel in Brighton, England, and the IRA's plant of a bomb to detonate in a hotel room which the criminals think is near the room in which Prime Minister Thatcher will stay upon her visit a few weeks thereafter. It's a fictionalization of a bombing that really happened.

The three primary characters: 17-18 year old Irish guy from Belfast streets; a middle-class 17 year old British girl working part time for the
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Let’s first look at the facts upon which the novel is based: in October, 1984, an IRA bomb exploded in Brighton’s Grand Hotel, in an audacious attempt to assassinate Margaret Thatcher. She survived and even delivered a keynote address later; others who were present were not so lucky.

Readers who expect a taut political thriller or even an excavation of what led to this dramatic action will not find it here in this book. Although the book is based on the 1984 events, it is mostly interested in exp
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I didn't find myself coming back to this even after resolving my Hoopla download issues. I think I'm just not that into the story. Tried it out because of it being on the Tournament of Books. ...more
Jonathan Lee’s novel focuses on the lead up to the Brighton Bombing in 1984. An IRA bomb meant to kill Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher went off in the beachside Grand Hotel during a Conservative Party conference that fall. Lee focuses on three invented characters – Phillip Finch, hotel assistant manager, his 18-year-old daughter Freya, and Dan, a 20-something IRA man from Belfast.

Phillip Finch, or Moose, is a disillusioned man. After his wife left him for another man, he raises his daughter
This was a novel about the planning and mostly character background story of fictional characters before the 1984 bombing of the Grand Hotel/ attempted assassination of Margaret Thatcher by the IRA. This novel had potential and the writing was great but it dragged in many parts and I feel like it could have been a lot shorter and had more impact.

I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Penguin's First to Read Program with no requirement to review book.
switterbug (Betsey)
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I would describe this novel less an historical novel than it is a novel with an historical event that took place in 1984. The IRA bombing/assassination attempt of Margaret Thatcher was planted two weeks in advance, at the Hotel Grand in Brighton, the place where the Iron Lady planned to deliver her keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference. In all other respects, the novel was a study of fictional characters of the author’s imagination. Waiting for the bomb to go off adds foreshadowing ...more
Roger Brunyate
Apr 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Mostly in Mid-Air

Though it uses one as its narrative springboard, this is not primarily a book about a bombing. It is a novel about people, not politics. And (to use the frequently-introduced metaphor of springboard diving), it is a story told mainly in the mid-air suspension between take-off and completion. In this case, a three-week suspension, between the time when the Provisional IRA placed a bomb in the Grand Hotel in the seaside resort of Brighton, England, and October 11, 1984, when it ex
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely superb.

It was GoodReads friend Susan's five star review of 'High Dive' which inspired me to read this. I am very glad I did.

I well remember 12 October 1984, the day the IRA bomb blew up the Grand Hotel in Brighton, and where the Conservative Party was holding its annual conference. I was living in Brighton then and had, coincidentally, been in the hotel a few hours before the device went off.

The genius of this novel is that whilst we know what's going to happen, and how afterwards
Mar 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
A promising, fascinating premise...disappointing execution... the net result: one star.

The premise for High Dive drew me in immediately. In 1984, a bomb was planted in an English seaside hotel, and it was set to explode when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet would be staying there. High Dive promised to weave together fact and fiction to imagine what happened. Since I didn't recall the actual events, I was on board from the beginning, expecting an informative and exciting interpr
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found bits of myself in all three of the main characters in this empathic novel. Lee makes the inchoate seeking of each of these figures -- an IRA bomb maker, a disappointed hotelier and his late teenage daughter -- a tragedy, a comedy and a plea for greater understanding. Really glad I read this book and hope it does well in the Tournament of Books next month.
Steven Z.
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
HIGH DIVE by Jonathan Lee is an interesting historical novel that develops a number of fascinating characters as it unfolds. The novel seems to travel on two tracks, the first are the Eriksonian identity crisis’ that evolve as each character is forced to ponder their roles in society, their life’s work, and what the future holds. The second are the ever present problems that infect the Irish-British relationship that have gone on for centuries. What makes the novel impactful is that behind the i ...more
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm a sucker for fiction set in Ireland during the Troubles, especially when it has interesting characters, lovely writing, middling levels of suspense, and poignant observations about life and how we deal with what it gives us or doesn't. Extra star when it's an audio book read by Gerard Doyle. ...more
Kasa Cotugno
In order to make a high dive, you have to first climb high. Overcome doubt and fear. Trust that you will hit clean. A former champion diver, Moose has taught Freya, his daughter, well, but at 18 she is uncertain whether to go to uni despite higher A levels than anticipated. She's made the climb, should she take the plunge. On the other side of the channel, Dan is "making his bones" with the IRA. His own climb is more metaphorical. The "Troubles" were very much a part of the landscape in Britain, ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fictional accounts of actual events seems to be a popular new approach to the novel. Jonathan Lee's book is a prime example. This story is about the IRA's 1984 bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton England intended to kill PM Margaret Thatcher and her political upper echelon. She was staying in the hotel for a conference and the bomb had been planted on a long delay.

The book opens with an IRA initiation of a young young man named Dan. I was immediately riveted. The book explores his development
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-audio, tob-2017
3.5-4 stars. I read this one for the 2017 Tournament of Books. A pretty good book with decent character development for the three main characters. I listened to it on audio - it may have been a better book for me to read - not that the audio was bad, but I think I would have gotten more from it had I read it. I liked Margaret Thatcher back in the day so the book held my attention. It was not a technical "Tom Clancy" assassination book but more of a literary account of the people involved and pos ...more
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
I had mixed reactions to this novel: I loved the tense thread following the IRA initiation, training, bomb planting and aftermath, but found the hotel deputy manager and his daughter plot a bit tepid; arbitrary really. The bloke can write.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I can't really think of anything I didn't like about this book, and yet it was just a 3 star for me. The characters were engaging and I felt like I really got to know them, and life in Brighton in the 1980's too. I like the author's writing style - it felt effortless to read but not at all fluffy, and I didn't mind that the bombing itself wasn't the central point of the novel. I think maybe it needed a little more narrative tension. ...more
Elite Group
High Dive by Jonathan Lee
2 out of 5 stars
The Brighton Grand Hotel bombing of 1984

‘High Dive’ commences in 1978 with an IRA initiation ceremony for Dan, one of the main characters in this book. The other two main characters are Philip Finch (also known as Moose), the Deputy General Manager of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, and his teenage daughter Freya.

The majority of this book explores the lives of these three people. Dan, with his Belfast upbringing amongst the British occupation and the Catholi
Chris Beal
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've wondered if I've been too stingy with my stars recently, because I've read several good books that only got four stars from me. But there is something I need besides a good story excellently told: I need a brilliance in the use of language -- and I found it in HIGH DIVE. This is the kind of book that causes me to stop often -- too often -- and marvel at how the author manages to find such exact yet original ways of expressing what he, or a character, means, and who manages to create one uni ...more
Joy Clark
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
"Sometimes, the before is more interesting than the after, no? Heading towards the impact. What is beautiful about a dive? It isn't the splash, is it?" He thought about telling her a good dive doesn't involve a splash. "I wanted to sing about what the lives were like before the quake. The day-to-day, what gets lost. That's the song I wanted to sing."

Jonathan Lee has done just that - created a song about the before, the details that get lost once the event happens. The story leads up to the Bri
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: at-npl, spies
I was pleased this was available at the Nashua Public Library

Enjoyed this book which has some real and fictional characters of a historic event . Read it in a weekend, which is rare for me.

The pacing and character study was more along the line of a Station Eleven than an Eye of the Needle type of book.
Alison Hardtmann
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-library
"I'm not going to sleep with you," she repeated.

"Sure," he said. "Right."

It had been a very exciting development. Here was a woman, a beautiful woman, a new woman who didn't know the ins and outs of his every mistake, and she was thinking about not sleeping with him.

High Dive by Jonathan Lee is a fictional account of the 1984 IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, which was targeted at Margaret Thatcher. It follows the lives of three people; Moose, the acting hotel manager, his daughter, Fr
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, tob17
Excellent. Plotted around the 1984 IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in an assassination attempt on Margaret Thatcher, the book looks into the lives of three fictional characters: the assistant manager of the hotel, his teenaged daughter, and an IRA operative. The writing is excellent, the character development is spot-on, and history provided the compelling story line. I just didn't give it 5 starts because I don't it will stay with me. I found it original and thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but I ...more
Samuel Tyler
History and fiction is a popular mix, but when you are dealing with real life events of the recent past you are on thin ground. The people who lived through the events are still around to critique and that may happen to Jonathan Lee’s ‘High Dive’, a book that is based around the Brighton Bombing in 1984 – but pretty loosely. In the past I have enjoyed books set during this period, the likes of Colin Bateman, Adrian McKinty and even Jack Higgins have imbued the conflict between the IRA and Thatch ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love serendipity. Unexpectedly, I have time to read some (or all depending on my luck with the library) of the books for the Tournament of Books (aka The Rooster). I picked up High Dive because it is on the tournament, and it was available.

What a fascinating read about the IRA and England in 1984. Thatcher planned an appearance at Brighton, and the IRA had advance notice. I was emotionally involved in the safety of locals working at or near the hotel where Thatcher planned to stay. The comple
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2016
It’s 1984 in Brighton, England and Margaret Thatcher plans to visit and stay at The Grand Hotel. Moose Finch, once a promising high diver, once a hopeful man, now deputy hotel manager of The Grand, sees this as his chance to shine and regain some of his lost glory. Freya Finch, his daughter, has gotten a reasonably high score on her A-levels at a mediocre school and is expected to go on to university. She has no plans to fulfill her father’s expectations, but prefers to spend her days behind the ...more
Steve Garriott
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The September 1984 bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton (its goal: the assassination of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) is the frame around the lives of three people, each trying to make sense of their lives. But this isn't a political thriller; it is an intimate study of these people, their hopes and dreams, faults and strengths. In the end, the time bomb makes its entrance, and none of them will ever be the same. Poignant and memorable. Highly recommended. ...more
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JONATHAN LEE is a British writer whose recent fiction has appeared in Tin House, Granta, and A Public Space, among other magazines. High Dive is his first novel to be published in the United States. He lives in Brooklyn, where he is a contributing editor for Guernica and a regular contributor to The Paris Review Daily.

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