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Middle England

(Rotters' Club #3)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  7,988 ratings  ·  984 reviews
Set in the Midlands and London over the last eight years, Jonathan Coe follows a brilliantly vivid cast of characters through a time of immense change and disruption in Britain. There are the early married years of Sophie and Ian who disagree about the future of Britain and, possibly, the future of their relationship; Sophie's grandfather whose final act is to send a posta ...more
Hardcover, 424 pages
Published November 8th 2018 by Viking
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Pamela I started reading this without knowing it was part of a trilogy, and it does certainly work as a stand alone, but once I had finished I couldn't wait …moreI started reading this without knowing it was part of a trilogy, and it does certainly work as a stand alone, but once I had finished I couldn't wait to read the other books in the series. The book perfectly captures the last few years of England's social and political history with astute perception and great humour. Can't recommend it enough.(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  7,988 ratings  ·  984 reviews

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Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jonathan Coe continues on themes that have been his natural areas of interest, this time he acutely observes the painfully divisive and depressing state of the nation since 2010 and Brexit through previous characters he once again resurrects along with the creation of new ones. Cameron as Prime Minister breaks Britain apart with his partner in crime, Osborne, inflicting an austerity on the poor and middle class whilst those who created the economic crisis, the bankers, walk away with impunity. C ...more
Middle England revisits characters from Coe’s earlier novels The Rotters’ Club and The Closed Circle – I suppose the three books could be said to form a loose trilogy – and follows them from 2010 to the present day. Their experiences are juxtaposed with a wealth of political developments and newsworthy events: the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition, Amy Winehouse’s death, the London riots, the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, the run-up to the EU referendum, Victoria Wood’s death, the murder ...more
Andy Marr
Mar 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Too long. Far, far, far too long. Also, the enormous amount of time that Coe spent describing the major British political and social events of the past ten years frequently left me wondering whether this was a novel or a short history of modern Britain. Altogether, the work was 200 pages too long, and a deeply frustrating read.
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019, modern-lit
For me, Jonathan Coe's novels feel like a form of literary comfort food or guilty pleasure. You know they will be funny at times, sentimental at others and topical. This state of the nation return to the characters created in The Rotters' Club (still my favourite of his books) is almost as good, and from my perspective seems both perceptive and at times poignant.

On the downside, some of the characters, particularly the minor ones, seem to be constructed purely to make a political point, and alth
Sam Quixote
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First off, Middle England is the third book in Jonathan Coe’s Rotter’s Club series but I’ve not read either The Rotter’s Club or The Closed Circle and you don’t need to either if you’re thinking of picking this one up; it works fine as a standalone piece but maybe if you’ve read the previous two books you might get more out of it because you’ll know the characters better?

Anyway, Middle England is a fantastic novel about the Brexit referendum with events starting in 2010, leading up to the decisi
Roman Clodia
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Set between the general election of 2010 that ushered in the coalition government and September 2018, this is a 'state of the nation' novel that tells the story of our times. Anyone who voted Leave may want to approach this with caution and have the blood pressure tablets handy; the rest of us can relive the tumultuous events of the last 8 years from the riots to Jo Cox, from the Olympics to the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn, and all the hideous hatred and vitriolic rhetoric that Brexit has legitim ...more
Barry Pierce
Documenting the past decade through a fairly large cast of characters, Middle England is a hugely enjoyable chronicle but has slightly too many plots for its own good.
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
There are only a few books which I’ve read more than once. Pride and Prejudice is one of them; Brave New World another. And in this rare group you’ll also find Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up!
Sadly, his latest book, Middle England, will not be joining my fiction hall of fame. It seems Coe was asked to write a book about Brexit and that’s what he did. He resurrected his characters from The Rotters' Club (another great novel) and put them into Britain’s turbulent 21st C political landscape. And ye
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Jonathan Coe has been one of our foremost British exponents of the ‘state of the nation’ genre, with a series of novels following a group of friends throughout their formative years, starting from their schooldays in 2001 with The Rotters Club. His current novel covers eight years from 2010 and includes many memorable news references:- Gordon Brown’s faux pas about the ‘bigoted’ woman, Ed Miliband’s bacon sandwich, the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, and his main topic here - the political fault ...more
Maru Kun
I didn't realise until the very end that "A Rose Between Two Thorns" - the novel written by the hero, Benjamin Trotter - is based round a metaphor for post war Britain leading up to Brexit. The French student staying at his writing school gives the game away:
" conveys the desolation of a life [lived by the hero, metaphorically the UK] that is built entirely on failure. For me it is the story of a man who has failed in every area of his life and so he invests all his dreams of happiness to
Penguin Books (UK)

Description: Set in the Midlands and London over the last eight years, Jonathan Coe follows a brilliantly vivid cast of characters through a time of immense change and disruption in Britain. There are the early married years of Sophie and Ian who disagree about the future of Britain and, possibly, the future of their relationship; Sophie's grandfather whose final act is to send a postal vote for the European referendum; Doug, the political commentator, whose young daughter desp
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Just before I opened this book, which my wife recently read and passed to me, I discovered that it is the third in a series of books by this author. I briefly wondered whether I should read the other parts first, but decided to press on. I don’t think it matters. There are very few things in this novel that make you think you have missed something. I assume that characters are consistent across the three books, but the indications are that that is all that links them. I guess this being just a p ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to netgalley and the publishers for a free copy in return for an open and honest review.

This novel is mainly set in the western midlands and timescale is events leading up to the brexit vote and afterwards through different relationships. The author uses characters from both sides remain/leave and left/right. You can feel as though you are part of this even though its still fresh in the mind.
Infada Spain
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
3.5 to be precise...
Floor Flawless
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020, own-read
Read for the Booktube Prize Octafinals.

Funny because in my daily life I’m not really busy with following political stuff, I only always see the highlights of it really. This book was heavily based on Brexit, but it was really well done in my opinion. You see the country change over time and how the characters in this book deal with that. Really interesting!
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Middle England by Jonathan Coe is an account of the years immediately before and after the UK’s 2016 European Referendum

The structure of this novel very cleverly allows a macro view of events through the regular meetings between a journalist and David Cameron’s director of communications, and then the impact the Government’s policy decisions have on a range of different characters.

These characters include, at both extremes of the political divide a young hard left character called Coriander who
Jonathan Pool
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I gather that this is the third part of a series of books written by Jonathan Coe, over several years. The same characters populate the stories. Does this matter? I don’t think so. If you had not told me that there were prequels, I would not have guessed it.
I read Middle England during the week in which the UK parliamentary vote for the Brexit agreement (scheduled to come into force on 29 March 2019). (it was postponed at the eleventh hour).
The “Brexit” ruminations in Middle England were thoug
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Since I’ve spent the last four years as a welcomed guest in the Netherlands, this distillation of the major events of the decade in the UK (just England really as the title suggests) came along at just the right time for me and I would guess many others of us living across the channel, looking on aghast at the chaos at home and considering our future. Interesting that the upbeat ending should lean so heavily towards Europe.

I have enjoyed Jonathan Coe’s writing over the years, but haven’t read ‘
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
In his latest novel Coe takes the characters from The Rotters’ Club and The Closed Circle and subjects them to the turmoil of the Referendum and Brexit. He does this with his usual keen and observant eye, but disappointingly chooses to do so with an unrelenting series of set-pieces, which, whilst often entertaining in themselves, avoid nuance and insight and offer little to the political debate. His potentially interesting characters are not explored in any depth and none of them mature or chang ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, fiction
3.5 rounded up

I came to Middle England not realising it was part of a series, and this probably impacted slightly on my enjoyment of it. However it is still an enjoyable story chronicling a period of great change in modern Britain.

The story covers the period between April 2010 and September 2018, and we (well, the characters) relive many of the major events throughout this period - the Coalition government, the London riots, the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, Jo Cox's murder, the Referendum, and
MJ Nicholls
Senryu Review:

The Brexit zeitgeist:
Coe’s mild pageturning prose screams
“Sky adaptation!”
Kate Vane
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
I’ve had mixed responses to Jonathan Coe novels over the years. I loved The Rotters’ Club and What a Carve Up!, I thought The Closed Circle (follow up to The Rotters’ Club) and House of Sleep were okay, and I’ve started one or two others that I couldn’t get through at all.

Middle England picks up the story of the protagonists of The Rotters’ Club in 2010 and follows their stories up to and after the Brexit referendum. It doesn’t have a conventional narrative arc, it’s more a series of vignettes s
Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Enjoyed this novel which traces the UK's political development from the 2010 election to (almost) present, through the eyes of the characters from the The Rotters' Club (read) and its sequel The Closed Circle (not read). It was interesting to see the arc of UK history from austerity, the 2011 riots, the Olympics (2012), to the divisions and impasse of Brexit. And how little moments have made such a difference, eg did Labour lose in 2010 because of Brown's 'bigot' remark about the woman who asked ...more
Femke (booksfemme)
Really, really enjoyed this contemporary novel based around the (political) changes that have occurred/are occurring in Britain over the last decade. I immediately warmed to the characters (without having read the first two books) because of how real they felt. Simply couldn’t put it down!
David Yoon
Jun 01, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is just so British, like a novelization of Coronation Street. (my apologies, I'm sure there are far more apt analogies but that is about the extent of my knowledge of British soaps)

It is the world prior to the pandemic. Of xenophobic rhetoric, an aging populace wishing for past glories, dog whistle politics dreaming of a whiter past, people reacting against political correctness and a polarized nation. Government flacks toeing the party line, spewing partisan double-speak, overzealous
Dec 05, 2018 marked it as unfinished
In 2015 I very much enjoyed Number 11, Coe’s state-of-the-nation novel about wealth, celebrity and suspicion in contemporary England. Middle England uses roughly the same format, of multiple linked characters and story lines, and seems to makes many of the same points, too. However, by embedding his book so completely in 2011–18 history, he limits its fictional possibilities. I often wonder how the history books will look back on recent events (Brexit, Trump), but revisiting them in fiction feel ...more
Ken Paterson
Apr 25, 2019 rated it liked it
A journey through recent times that is often enjoyable, sometimes moving and frequently funny. As a modern satire, however, somewhat underwhelming.
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A new book by Jonathan Coe is like greeting an old friend. His books have the capacity to move me like few others. Middle England is his Brexit novel but is so much more than that. It examines the conditions that led up to it, taking in ‘political correctness gone mad’, ‘people like you', and why we never saw it coming.
Some of the characters return from The Rotters Club, and The Closed Circle although this reads as a stand alone novel perfectly. Coe shows us how we were encouraged to be dissatis
Lisa Bywell
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Obviously 5 stars. The man is a genius!!
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. Interesting book. I enjoyed it, but I do wish I’d read the first two.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Jonathan Coe, born 19 August 1961 in Birmingham, is a British novelist and writer. His work usually has an underlying preoccupation with political issues, although this serious engagement is often expressed comically in the form of satire. For example, What a Carve Up! rew

Other books in the series

Rotters' Club (3 books)
  • The Rotters' Club
  • The Closed Circle (Rotters' Club, #2)

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