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Middle England

(Rotters' Club #3)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,558 ratings  ·  401 reviews
From the acclaimed author of The Rotters' Club and The Closed Circle comes the novel for our strange contemporary times.

Beginning nine years ago on the outskirts of Birmingham, where car factories have been replaced by chain retail, and London, where both frenzied riots and Olympic fever plague the streets, Middle England tracks a brilliantly vivid cast of characters throu
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published August 20th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published November 8th 2018)
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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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4.01  · 
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 ·  2,558 ratings  ·  401 reviews

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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 of J ...more
Roman Clodia
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2019
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
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jonathan Pool
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  ·  review of another edition
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 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
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
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.
Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
MJ Nicholls
Senryu Review:

The Brexit zeitgeist:
Coe’s mild pageturning prose screams
“Sky adaptation!”
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
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!
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. Interesting book. I enjoyed it, but I do wish I’d read the first two.
Ken Paterson
A journey through recent times that is often enjoyable, sometimes moving and frequently funny. As a modern satire, however, somewhat underwhelming.
Sid Nuncius
I have enjoyed much of Jonathan Coe’s previous work and he writes as well as ever here, but overall I struggled with Middle England.

Having dealt with wealth, poverty and finance in modern Britain in Number 11, Coe’s latest state-of-the-nation novel takes us through the politics of the last eight years from the 2010 General Election to the political earthquakes in 2016 and beyond. As ever, he writes beautifully and readably and creates convincing, if slightly exaggerated, characters. The trouble
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Joe M
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lol, read-in-2019
One of the funniest, warmest, and most sharply observed novels I've read in long time! Glancing through other reviews, they seem to be all over the map for this one, and I wonder if as a reader new to this author, and an American who has followed British politics over the last decade- but with the luxury of distance, it helped me enjoy this more? For those of us in the U.S., the climate around Brexit resounds loudly in the Trump era, but I could certainly see readers in the UK finding parts of t ...more
Middle England gets 3.5 stars from me. A very measured take on the political and cultural history of the UK from 2010 to 2018. It was good to read something that wasn't full of OTT claims, tribal passion or fake news. As a Scot though, it did feel very English, but I guess that was what it 'said on the label'. A Good read.
Kate Vane
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
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a lot, especially because there were some of the characters from the Rotter's club and it was like meeting some long forgotten friends whom you really enjoy to see again. The story was not so complicated. but as it was settled from 2010 to now, it was interesting for me to follow what precedes and came right after brexit. After the not so good last book (Numer 11), I enjoyed this new Coe a lot.

Questo libro mi é piaciuto parecchio, anche perché l'ultimo di Coe (Numero 11) non mi
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Cole is angry about how Britain has changed, overall since 1979 but specifically in the last 8 years for this novel. He is angry about the rise in anger, hatred and division that has increased in Britain. Reviving characters first seen in The Rotters Club he intertwines actual events with fictional ones to take their story right to the present day. It is a funny thought provoking and entertaining read; though maybe less so if you voted leave.
Lisa Bywell
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Obviously 5 stars. The man is a genius!!
Jaclyn Crupi
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love a book that attempts to take the pulse of a nation. This is perfect post-Brexit reading and a wonderful multi-voice narrative though there were a couple of characters I preferred over others.
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Middle England.
That's the way, well done. I thoroughly enjoyed Middle England. I also thought Expo 58 was wonderful, though I was more absorbed with Middle England.

In this YouTube post, Jonathan Coe on Middle England,
the author discusses the book. One of the audience commented that "basically, Brexit was the Baby Boomers giving the middle finger to the Millennials".
The novel covers many topics, one being the world the Boomers have left the Millennials. The progressiv
Bridget Simpson
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it 😊
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Reading the 20th ...: Middle England by Jonathan Coe (July/August 2019) 85 25 Jul 24, 2019 06:15AM  

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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)
“Benjamin had not dared, yet, to enquire about sales figures; as for the book's critical reception, it was non-existent. No reviews in either the national or local papers, of course, nothing on the various readers' websites and no reader reviews on Amazon - where it had a sales raking of 743,926 (or, if he wanted to cheer himself up, 493 in Bestsellers>Fiction>Literary Fiction>Autobiographical Fiction>Romance>Obsession).” 0 likes
“You know she wanted you to vote the other way. It’s her future, you know. She’s the one who’s going to be around the longest.” 0 likes
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