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Xavier Ireland is a radio DJ who by night listens to the hopes, fears and regrets of sleepless Londoners and by day keeps himself very much to himself - until he is brought into the light by a one-of-a-kind cleaning lady and forced to confront his own biggest regret.

388 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2010

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About the author

Mark Watson

78 books279 followers
Mark Andrew Watson (born 13 February 1980) is an English stand-up comedian and novelist.

Watson was born in Bristol to Welsh parents. He has younger twin sisters called Emma and Lucy and brother Paul. He attended Henleaze Junior school and then Bristol Grammar School, where he won the prize of 'Gabbler of the year', before going to Queens' College, Cambridge, where he studied English, graduating with first class honours. At university he was a member of the Footlights and contemporary of Stefan Golaszewski, Tim Key and Dan Stevens. He was part of the revue which was nominated for the Best Newcomer category in the Perrier Comedy Awards at the 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and also co-directed a revue with Key.

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5 stars
771 (17%)
4 stars
1,763 (40%)
3 stars
1,366 (31%)
2 stars
345 (7%)
1 star
88 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 395 reviews
Profile Image for Andrea.
742 reviews31 followers
June 4, 2017
What a lucky find. I have been to see Mark Watson's stand-up performance before, and really enjoy his sense of humour, but I had no idea he could write as well! And while his stand-up can be quite frenetic at times, his writing (in this case, at least) is very measured and restrained. The comparisons to David Nicholls are spot-on in my opinion - love them both.

Watson's humour and his fondness of Australia shine through, but this is not a comedy. It's almost a parable - a story about action and inaction. Xavier Ireland has run away from his life in Melbourne; away from his family and his tight-knit, friends-since-primary-school little 'gang', to start over in London. There, over the past 5 years, he has become reasonably successful and popular as the host of a radio program on the graveyard shift. During this particular London winter, Xavier's failure to effectively intervene in a bullying incident out on the street, has a knock-on effect for 11 characters.

We don't know why Xavier left Melbourne until well into the second half of the book. When the reason was finally revealed, my heart was in my mouth. I would almost say it had more of an impact than the ending, which left a bit to the reader's imagination.

The beauty of this story is in the detailed characterisation of what might at first appear to be a rather large cast. But that detail makes it easy to keep track of everyone and where they fit in the interconnectedness of all things.

Highly recommended, 4.5★

Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 28 books272 followers
October 21, 2011
Quite simply, I liked this from the off, and read it in three sittings. It's not High Art, it's chick lit really, only male authors never get patronised with the term, but it sits very comfortably alongside Lisa Jewell (even the cover is similar to hers of a few years back) and, I gather, One Day, which I confess I've never read. Mark Watson is a gifted writer; he has a light touch (again, I mean this as a compliment, whoever sets out to write a 'heavy' book?) and you'd not know from his tone of voice he was a stand-up comedian - again, I mean this as praise, books packed with big arrows saying 'Laugh!' (take note Caitlin Moran) can get tiresome. It tells the story of DJ Xavier, an Australian who comes to England and changes his name - quite why takes is left a way through to reveal and comes as quite a shock - and the eleven people impacted by one random act of his unkindness at the novel's start. The cast of characters is large, and many have real charm (particular Geordie cleaner, Pippa, with her pendulous breasts), but the real charm of the book lies in its gentle philosophy: think not that what you do in life has no impact on the world, because even small acts of caring make a difference.
Profile Image for Eddie Owens.
Author 7 books52 followers
April 19, 2017
A strange sort of a book. Everyone is very sad and the story never really takes off.

It's billed as a series of eleven events with consequences, but none of them are very exciting. Maybe it's meant to be a kitchen sink comedy drama, but even then it's all a bit slow and dull.

The big reveal comes over two thirds of the way into the book, and it's too late and too brutal for the story that went before.

I think the author had various ideas of what he wanted to happen, but in trying to do too many things, he lost sight of the plot.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for David Hebblethwaite.
335 reviews231 followers
November 16, 2010
Here’s a chain of consequences: early last year, I was at a work conference where, one evening, a group of us went to see Mark Watson in stand-up. His name was half-familiar, though I couldn’t quite place it; but I love good comedy, so I decided to take a chance and go along anyway – and I’m glad I did, because Watson was hilarious.

A few months later, I was in an unfamiliar part of town, and popped into the local library, where I saw a novel by an author named Mark Watson. A quick glance at the biography established that this was the same Mark Watson; apparently he’d written a couple of novels several years previously. If his fiction was anything like as good as his stand-up, I thought, then I wanted to read it – so I borrowed the book and, sure enough, it was very good.

All this meant that, when I heard earlier this year that Watson was going to publish a new novel, his first in six years, I was very interested in reading it. And the reason I’ve introduced this review as I have is that Eleven is all about chains of consequence. The central chain of events begins when Xavier Ireland, the host of a late-night radio phone-in show, witnesses a group of youths beating up another boy and tries to intervene, but fails to stop them. The novel continues to follow Xavier’s life whilst, alongside that, Watson traces the seemingly random consequences of that one incident – the bullying angers the victim’s mother, who then writes a harsher review of a restaurant than she might have otherwise; incensed by the review, the restaurant’s owner ends up firing one of his staff, and so on. We also discover what it was that led Chris Cotswold to leave Australia, change his name to Xavier Ireland, and take such an unsociable job – and why everything comes back to the number eleven.

The fabric of Eleven is shaped by the theme of chance moments and their ramifications. It’s there in Xavier’s life, as the nature of his job means that most of his connections with other people are transitory – the callers to his show enter his life briefly, then dart back out again; and the odd hours Xavier keeps mean that his producer/co-presenter Murray is probably the person he sees most regularly. The theme is there, of course, in the main consequence-chain; but it’s also there in Watson’s many asides, which reveal connections between minor characters, or glimpses into their futures. These asides act as a reminder that, beyond the protagonist’s life (and, in reality, our own), there are countless webs of other stories which remain unknown to us.

Watson also captures the raggedy nature of life in his plot progression, as events don’t necessarily tie up neatly; what seems as though it’s going to become the novel’s key relationship actually fizzles out early on; and an apparently throwaway gag – one woman Xavier meets at a speed-dating event introduces herself as a cleaner, and before their three minutes are up, he’s made an appointment with her for that weekend – grows into one of the main plot strands.

The character development in Eleven is also smartly done. As I said earlier, Xavier’s relationships with other people tend to be fleeting; when someone does start to become more of a permanent fixture in his life, Xavier doesn’t know how to handle it – but he learns to so in a halting fashion which is very believable. More generally, Eleven could be seen as the story of how Xavier slowly breaks out of the old pattern of his life – but then comes the ending…

I really like the ending of Eleven. It reminds me of Tom McCarthy’s Remainder, insofar as both books have endings which are no way to end a novel, and yet are completely right for the story they tell. But you’ll have to read this novel to find out what I mean. And perhaps, as a consequence, you’ll have found a new book to enjoy.
Profile Image for Karen ⊰✿.
1,346 reviews
February 4, 2019
Xavier Ireland moved from Australia to London five years ago and is a late night talk-show host. He has become a quasi-therapist to his listeners, but in his usual life he is a loner who tries not to get involved in other people's lives.
As the story unfolds, we discover what happened to Xavier which caused this change in him (including changing his name from Chris), and he also discovers a way to try and get back to his old self.
Although this is the main story, there is also another large thread running through the book which is how a seemingly innocuous action (or inaction) by Xavier at the start of the book impacts on eleven lives. Sometimes it was a little confusing keeping all the characters straight, but I think Watson did a very good job at keeping the Xavier story front and centre. This was a very clever novel, which left me holding my breath and with goosebumps all over as I read the final lines.
December 8, 2018
3,5/5 Estrellas

Reseña sin spoilers

Voy a empezar esta reseña con una comparación que nunca creí que haría: en mi opinión, este libro hizo bien lo que 13 Reasons Why hizo mal

Ambos libros se enfocan en que todo lo que cada uno de nosotros hacemos trae consecuencias (muchas veces negativas) para las personas de nuestro entorno directo y no tan directo. La diferencia principal entre ambos enfoques yace en el grado de culpa que los personajes de cada novela le atribuyen al resto por sus desgracias.

Mientras que en 13RW los personajes no paran de culparse (y mentirse y vengarse) entre ellos, en Once Vidas prevalece un ambiente mucho más sano y más práctico.

Al principio de la historia, el protagonista Xavier Ireland (un DJ radiofónico australiano erradicado en Londres) toma una decisión que sabe que no es la correcta, pero que considera que no tendrá mayores consecuencias. En cambio, desatará una cadena de eventualidades que ponen de cabeza la vida de 10 otras personas. Sin embargo, el único que llega a preguntarse si algo de esto será culpa de Xavier es él mismo. Los demás personajes siguen viviendo sus vidas, sabiendo que hacen cosas bien así como las hacen mal, pero sin detenerse a buscar culpables sino soluciones. Pero por supuesto que no todo es tan sencillo, y de hecho este libro también lidia con la depresión y el suicidio de una manera realista, y considerando los pocos párrafos que se le dedica a estos temas igual me ha llegado bastante.

Me encantó como un libro tan corto logró explorar tan bien el pasado y el presente de Xavier, y a su vez relatar las consecuencias desencadenadas por la mala decisión de su protagonista en otros personajes. Me hubiera gustado conocer más a profundidad a algunos de ellos, pero creo que el nivel de detalle estaba bien para el tipo de libro.

Si bien la pluma de Mark Watson no me pareció especialmente artística o ingeniosa, si tenía sus momentos de brillar, y cuando no, bastaba para meterme en la historia. La trama del libro era en su mayoría de rutina, pero varios momentos son muy emocionales y hubo un par de sorpresas que me dejaron en shock.

En cuanto al final, me dejo sintiéndome como Hazel Grace de Bajo La Misma Estrella después de terminar Un Dolor Imperial. Eso no se hace. Y lo peor es que hay cierta ironía poética en ese final tan crudo.

En general lo disfruté mucho, es una lectura más adulta y realista de lo que acostumbro leer, pero con personajes diversos, varios de ellos entrañables, y un gran mensaje.

Profile Image for Nick Davies.
1,498 reviews39 followers
August 16, 2016
This was a really pleasant surprise. It'd be a disservice to dismiss this contemporary novel by comedian and author Mark Watson as just 'bloke lit', but it would also be inaccurate to over-analyse this and describe it in terms of the existentialist and philosophical points it makes. It was just a very readable, very enjoyable, thought-provoking little novel.

The central story concerns a late-night radio DJ, his friendship with his co-presenter/producer, and the other relationships he has/had. There are side tangents, however, following a cast of other people apparently unconnected to the central protagonist - but as the plot develops, there is an interesting exploration of how connections (felt and unfelt) are made.. and how seemingly trivial decisions can have far-reaching consequences. Its clever without being contrived, thought-provoking without being obvious, and there are some very sad and mature moments which didn't for me 'jar' or decrease my enjoyment of this read over the course of my commute one day. Without necessarily aiming at massive significant themes, there was certainly a lot in this which I found kinda stimulating in the sense of making me think 'I do/say that too.. perhaps I should do/say something different' without heavy-handed or obvious moralising.

Mark Watson is a talented novelist. I read a book about environmentalism by him a few years ago, and was slightly underwhelmed, but I may keep an eye out for other fiction he's written.
Profile Image for Ana M. Román.
625 reviews82 followers
October 30, 2016
Un libro deprimente escrito por un comediante.

No te dejes engañar por su portada o su autor, no contiene humor, no es ni siquiera mínimamente divertido. Es gris, como sus personajes, de los cuáles sólo salvaría a Pippa que le da algo de energía, no mucha, a un libro que carece de ella.

El significado que el autor quiere que extraígamos del libro, nada sutilmente, no es malo: cada acción y omisión tiene su repercusión. Una repercusión en cadena como ondas en un estanque que se reproducen sin final afectando cientos de vidas, incluída la nuestra. Aún así se podría haber llegado a lo mismo con muchas menos páginas, se hace largo aún cuando el libro no lo es para nada, y sin necesidad de un desenlace que solo desencanta más.
Profile Image for Ana.
474 reviews81 followers
July 9, 2018

Categoria: livro com um número no título

Onze estranhos. Onze vidas que de alguma forma vão ser afectadas por um acontecimento aparentemente inócuo.
Gostei muito deste livro. De uma forma simples e interessante aborda o tema do Efeito Borboleta (o bater de asas de uma simples borboleta poderia influenciar o curso natural das coisas e, assim, talvez provocar um tufão do outro lado do mundo.)
Profile Image for Leo.
4,176 reviews366 followers
November 24, 2020
Didn't really know what I was getting my self into while picking up the book, didn't knew he was a stand up comedian, and while this book isn't overly comical, it has a lightness to it and some funny bits. Enjoyed the story but wasn't something special for me
Profile Image for Katy Kelly.
2,019 reviews72 followers
October 19, 2015
4.5 stars

After reading Hotel Alpha, I was keen to try more by Watson, I really liked his ideas and style of writing, using multiple narrators but showing a great grasp of juggling several lives and storylines and intertwining them.

This is more keenly observed here, with the actions of one person affecting the next, then the next and so on, with a chain of eleven people and their lives becoming entwined in small ways.

It all begins with a radio DJ, Australian Xavier Ireland (a name he's taken on), who listens to the ramblings, musings and insomniac dreams of London by night, and returns home to his dirty and lonely flat each day. One day, he makes a choice - to help or not to help, which starts off a chain of incidents that we watch moving through our characters in unexpected ways. Pushed out of his Scrabble-championship comfort zone to a speed-dating event, he is eventually forced to face up to the past he's left behind in Australia, and to the effect we can each have on the lives of others.

I loved the style of this, though listening on audiobook made it more tricky to remember who everyone was. The connection from person to person was well thought-through, and I loved the variety of characters and how we were allowed to see into the future for many of them through the author's voice stepping in. Xavier is our main character, and I found him very sympathetic. More so when the truth about his past comes out. I was driving at the time and had my hands over my mouth listening in shock. It all made sense.

There are some wonderful characters here, which were brought out by the fantastic CD narrator. Xavier's colleague at the radio station with a stutter, Xavier's neighbours in his building, the cleaner he hires. Watson's take on the London life of the typical person hits home, they do feel like real people.

Watching the dominoes fall, seeing one person's decisions affect another's - it did remind me that, yes, in life, this is exactly what happens, my choices affects more than just me. It has a good point to make.

The Scrabble scenes are really funny, and also quite informative, and I just adored Xavier's amazing cleaner!

The ending (no spoilers, don't worry), I could see the reasons why Watson wrote it that way, and it did fit. But I couldn't help wishing it was the ending I had in my head...

I'd recommend this highly, it reminded me of Tales of the City, and being closer to home in England, was all the more poignant. I've decided I'm definitely a fan of Mark Watson's writing.

This would make a good reading group choice as well as one for fans of multiple storylines that fit together, and everyday stories about human lives, loves and connections.
Profile Image for Rob.
69 reviews14 followers
July 24, 2012
This was a classic holiday read: plucked from the bookshelf of a villa on the basis that I like the author (as a stand-up) and it was compared to One Day (which I loved) on the cover. Easy to read and entirely undemanding, it was perfect for slotting in between stopping the kids falling into the pool and slapping on sun-cream.

There's a nice concept driving the book which is, I suppose, where the One Day reference comes in: an observation of the butterfly effect at work. One action (or indeed, inaction) from the protagonist, Xavier, leads to a series of consequences on eleven other people, all of which take place in the background whilst our hero gets into a will-they-won't they relationship.

It's all a bit Richard Curtis really, complete with Deep Dark Secrets and Personal Issues, though none the worse for it. The domino-ing backdrop is mildly diverting, if somewhat thin given the number of characters covered , but the main arc is entertaining enough. The chief disappointment, for me, is the complete absence of the author's voice. There are the occasional flashes of Watson's eye for daftness and amusing pedantry, but much of it could have been written by anyone. Perhaps its unfair to judge it by those expectations, but its inevitably disappointing when someone with such a distinctive way of viewing the world can't get that across in a novel.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,503 reviews725 followers
May 12, 2020
A truly wonderful tragi-comedy about an Australian in London working as a night time talk-DJ, also it's about his neighbours, friends, acquaintances and people he just sees or bumps into a few times. This book looks at 'ordinary lives' and shows how there's really no such thing, as it also looks at coincidences and the way our actions and non-actions span out and reverberate out across the city. Loved this! 8 out of 12
Profile Image for Marta Alves.
30 reviews
February 28, 2021
Tão diferente. Tão bom.
Sem estar à espera do que ía encontrar, fui surpreendida pelas histórias e pela forma como a narrativa se desenrola.
Profile Image for Sean Randall.
1,876 reviews40 followers
February 6, 2013
I'd never heard of Mark Watson in any context other than stand-up comedy before, even less had I actually ever scene him perform. This book cost me £0.99 and is now back up to a fiver on Kindle. The synopsis sounded interesting, no more than that, so it really was a bit of a whim purchase.

Seeing an endorsement for the man by Stephen Fry as soon as you open the book certainly impacts, but the writing is powerful enough to drag you in all by itself. From that opening, that cold, still, snowy Febuary London night, you're drawn? Pulled? Positively set to spiraling through these people's lives and I'm surely not the only person to begrudge intrusions from the outside world preventing me from wanting to read more.

I can't claim it was a particularly thrilling story. There wasn't much action or intrigue, little mystery or mayhem. And yet... there was empathy. I cared, somehow - cared for Xavier, so obviously sufferring, so clearly torn asunder from a life he had to leave behind, so evidently intelligent and so securely secluded. A man full of history, with a story to tell which is extraordinarily sad and deeply moving - I was almost crying in chapter seven, really. Me! Crying!

Then, of course, there's this - I haven't got the word for it. This chain of humanity, the way in which one action (or, in this case, one inaction) sends out ripples like a stone thrown into water. TO see these ripples as consequences that actually have a real, deterministic impact on people is... deep. You sort of pull back at the end of chapter three and get beaten about the head with the results of this one, tiny, seemingly inconsequential event which nonetheless has a massive impact on a whole group of people, and that is frightning, and things just keep on going, moving along, on paths that may not have even existed if one little thing had gone differently.

I'm sort of lost, not for words, but for ways of putting them together properly. I can say the writing was good, the characters were very well painted, the scenery was contemporary and the atmosphere believable. All that is true - in fact, Watson is only seven years older than me, yet his worldview, his ability to see things and perceive seems somehow ineffably deeper and more cohesive than anything my brain could possibly aspire to. It is this, this sense or quality of the writing that gives this story such an impact. I - and this is odd, because I'm an actiony, fantasy, science fiction sort of bloke - but I couldn't put it down. I was hooked and fascinated, curious and spellbound all at the same time. I don't think I can share why. You'll either feel it or you won't, I suspect, but I certainly did and can really say little more than that.
Profile Image for Aline Smedts.
65 reviews27 followers
August 12, 2015
'Eleven' is the best book I've read in a while, I bloody loved it! You can feel while reading that Mark Watson is a comedian, but it's not all 'HAHA THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE SO FUNNY'. It's subtly funny, but also sad, it's light yet you really feel for all the characters involved and everything just clicks.

It makes you wonder how the choices we make in life affect other people we may or may not know, without trying to point a finger at anyone, it doesn't try to hard. Linking eleven lives back to one instant without it feeling forced or far fetched, but feel very logical and natural is an accomplishment for any writer. You can really feel Watson has a very good eye for detail, otherwise a story this intricate wouldn't run so smoothly.

Xavier is the perfect main character, lovable but mysterious up until the very end, he has no idea of the way in which he affects other peoples lives.On top of everything Xavier and the other elements in the book surprised me, all the way to the ending (I don't know what I was expecting but definitely NOT that), even further evidence of how impressive a novel this is.

I'm already looking for the next Mark Watson book to read! (Very curious about the one he described in the interview that was tied in to my copy: "it's about a young boy who is initiated into a school of wizards and gets drawn into a cosmic battle between good and evil. But also, a few characters turn out to be vampires. And then, on top of that, there's a romp through an ancient European city to uncover a mystery revealed by a trail of religious symbols. So I reckon I've got every popular angle covered." CAN'T WAIT!!)
Profile Image for Chelsebelle.
328 reviews4 followers
August 18, 2016
I devoured this book in under two days. I found it delightful, engrossing, and a great book with which to begin my summer reading. Goodreads had recommended this book because I am such a huge fan of One Day by David Nicholls (please read if you haven't).

I found that I was not disappointed. Mark Watson created a concise narrative while interweaving at large overall theme of connectivity. His ability to jump between two parallel stories without losing the reader was impressive, and more so to complete the task while creating a strong attachment and investment in every character. I would have appreciated him delving more into Murray's character. There were allusions to knowing him more but I found that they were never delivered upon.

The ending is somewhat elusive but, truthfully, that doesn't matter. The bulk of the author's purpose is in the story up to that point. You don't really need a satisfying ending to have a satisfyingly read.

This novel satisfied many parts of me - the fatalist, the optimist, the reader, and the voyeur. I cannot recommend this book enough. Please give it a shot.
Profile Image for Tracy-Lee.
10 reviews8 followers
June 1, 2011
What a laborious read. This book frustrated me so much yet I reflect on it with a sense of fondness. Xavier is a likeable protagonist with qualities and issues we can all relate to. Some beautifully constructed sentences and quirky characters leave me wondering how I truly felt about this story.

I began the book with high expectations, waiting for excitement and brilliance, what I encountered was a book dealing with the everyday, but with an exciting addition of a domino effect of consequences.

My favourite line from the book:
“The sky is just a colourless mass hanging over London, quiescent, as if faintly embarrassed by its outburst last night”.
Profile Image for maike.
14 reviews13 followers
July 9, 2016
This isn't going to be a normal review more of a 'what did I think about the book in 5 sentences '
All in all the book was okay . I needed nearly the 100 pages to really get into the story and still then I was slightly confused because of the 11 people you get to know in the book. Their perspectives aren't separated in chapter or anything so you get confused easily. The middle part was quit well but the last two or three chapter were somehow boring because they stretched so much .
Profile Image for Ece.
107 reviews32 followers
July 27, 2020
sıfır beklentiyle başlamama rağmen (muhtemelen tamamıyla benden kaynaklı sebeplerle) kitabın içine girmekte zorluk çektim. karakterlerin fazlalığı ilk başta kafa karıştırıcı olsa da onlar hakkında okumaya devam ettikçe hepsine yavaş yavaş alıştım.
kendi hayatımızda yaptığımız en küçük seçimlerin bile nasıl bir zincir oluşturabileceğiyle ilgili oldukça ilginç bir romandı. tabii bu zincir olayını kafaya takıp her hareketimizi aşırı düşünmeye şevk eden bir tarafı da var ama ben bu konuda düşünmemeyi tercih ediyorum şahsen.
xavier'ın (zevyır diye okunuyormuş şoklar içindeyim) karakter gelişimine sayfa sayfa şahit olmak aşırı zevkliydi. daha uzun yazılmış olmasını istemekle birlikte aslında tam kararında olduğunu ve tam bitmesi gerektiği yerde ve şekilde bittiğini kabul etmek zorundayım sanırım...
ayrıca seneler önce üç (3) liraya aldığım kitabın vasat çıkmayacağını bilsem bu kadar beklemeden okurdum... yine de hayatımın kitabı değildi, ancak okuması ilginç bir süreçti.
Profile Image for Lita.
138 reviews
September 6, 2019
"La vida no es tan sencilla. Los miles de ínfimas consecuencias de la no intervención de Xavier en la paliza a Frankie Carstairs, unas ocho semanas atrás, siguen generando otros miles, que a su vez generan miles más, campando a sus anchas por Londres".

"Comprende que cada persona está conectada con todas las demás, y que por lo tanto cada una de sus clases [...] trae sus consecuencias. Todo puede llegar a ser importante".
Profile Image for Josef Horký.
Author 4 books10 followers
November 15, 2020
Téma jak z Mitche Alboma ve zpracování jak z Lásky nebeské, s humorem a stylem jako z Nicka Hornbyho. V každém aspektu však více či méně slabší, než slavnější "zdroj". Taková nemastná neslaná knížka, neurazí ani nenadchne.
Profile Image for Savanna.
204 reviews12 followers
May 19, 2011
Eleven by Mark Watson
Recommended for people who like: Love Actually, Crash, Sleepless in Seattle
“Genre” Tags: Everyone is Connected, People Trying to Find Happiness

The Official Summary: ONE MOMENT... ELEVEN LIVES... ENDLESS CONSEQUENCES (Yup. That’s it. It’s ok, I’ll fill it in for you)

I worry I might be missing something. Several reviews for this book that I have read on GoodReads talk about how hilarious and smartly done it is. I will agree that the writing is well done, but I thought it fell in and out of cliches and I didn’t ever find myself chuckling at Watson’s humor. I want to say that maybe there’s some sort of cultural disconnect, but I think I usually get British humor pretty well… so I’m stumped as to where these other reviewers are finding this humor.
So first, since the official flap jacket summary is so vague, let me fill you in about the plot of this book. Our hero is a London DJ for a late night radio show, very much in the style of Sleepless in Seattle. He now goes by the name of Xavier Ireland, but he used to live in Australia, where he was known as Chris. The main draw of the first half of the book is finding out why he left Australia and why he’s living the fairly humdrum life he is. As we discover more about Xavier, we also see snippets of other characters as they go about their lives. It’s a little distracting, especially since there are a LOT of side characters, many of whom only show up briefly. The second half of the story is essentially about how all of these characters’ lives intersect.
I enjoyed the writing style. As I was reading, I kept hearing the narrator’s voice from 500 Days of Summer. The prose is that authoritative and reads a bit like if you were to imagine someone reciting the stage directions and motivations of your life. It kept a strong tone all the way through, and it fit the overall, fatalistic tone of the book really well. But a far as the overall plot went… I thought the development of the linkage was a bit cliched. Maybe I’m just a bit over it since I have already kind of seen that before with Crash and Love Actually.
That being said, finding out Chris/Xavier’s story was really fascinating. As I was reading that part I was waiting for takeout in a public place, and Iw as so enthralled I almost didn’t hear them call my order! That hole sequence added such depth to the story at exactly the right time. That’s essentially when the book switches from seemingly random snippets to the beginnings of a web.

Rating: 3 stars— I think part of my disappointment with this book is 1) the fact that I think was mis-marketed as a funny, Christopher Moore type book, and what I got was something very similar to Love Actually (in fact, the author’s note at the end even mentioned that Watson was inspired by the style of Love Actually) and 2) The side characters were difficult to keep up with at times during the beginning.
Other Tangential Thoughts:
I received this book for review from Simon and Schuster’s GalleyGrab Program. Thank you so much S&S!
Profile Image for Jayne Charles.
1,045 reviews16 followers
September 9, 2012
I’m always a bit prejudiced when it comes to authors who are already famous for doing other things – thinking maybe their writing doesn’t have to be as good as an unknown person’s would have to be to secure a publishing deal. These fears proved to be out of place here, though, as the writing was superb. And despite being written by a comedian, humour is not its main concern. It has drama, romance, real life, and a fair bit of tragedy. There are funny bits – the image of the person’s gut “imposing itself through an inadequate tuxedo like someone mooning through curtains” was a particular highlight – but essentially this is just an excellent story.

The book is all about connections between people, and the reverberations from an event which affect other people, moving outwards like the ripples on a pond. There are many interlinked stories and miniature dramas. All are told in a wonderfully readable style.

At the heart of the book is a chain of events, set off by the main character, more by what he doesn’t do than by what he does. To be honest I would challenge anyone to act differently, so I thought some of the subtle moralising a bit unfair, but I loved the business of the story, and the vast array of believable characters. Turns out that this author has written more books - what excellent news.
Profile Image for Kate.
353 reviews
January 13, 2015
Eleven is a very quick read that offers up themes of moving forward after a loss and the interconnections among people, akin to the butterfly effect of a small distant change causing large changes at a later point in time. These effects are like a web of connections that we are either trapped in or spinning as we go depending on your perspective. The characters are realistic and the humor of London lives bubbles gently throughout, even as the protagonist wrestles with his own loss and connections.

If you are looking for a quick read with realistic characters good introspection, a little light humor and some "hmm, whose live have I unknowingly impacted?" you are likely to enjoy this novel.

Your book group may enjoy this too as a quicker read after a lengthy novel. If so, check out this Eleven book discussion to get your group talking.

One of my favorite quotes:

“She whips out her BlackBerry — people all over the room are doing this each time they move between conversations, as if the gadgets contain instructions on how to move”
Profile Image for Sonia.
309 reviews95 followers
November 6, 2013
No te dejes engañar por la sinopsis, este libro no tiene argumento. Ni hay conexiones increíbles, ni consecuencias imprevisibles, ni cambios vitales, de hecho te preguntarás durante la mayoría del libro: ¿de qué va todo esto, qué es lo que me quiere contar el autor?

Una historia vacía que nunca llega a ser lo que pretende ser, un quiero y no puedo. La supuesta transformación vital del personaje resulta superficial, yo diría que ni llega a producirse, su pasado secreto acaba siendo una pequeña historia que ni sorprende ni es tan relevante, las conexiones fortuitas pero supuestamente significativas entre los otros personajes o vidas no están bien logradas, sobran, no son más que líneas que saltan aquí y allá, se quedan en un intento de dar colorido o alimentar el ego del escritor que creerá que ha conseguido algo novedoso y único.

Para colmo de todos estos males, la traducción es pésima. Frases gramaticalmente mal construidas, tanto que a veces pierden su sentido, expresiones inexistentes en el idioma castellano que seguramente se deben a algún tipo de traducción literal...

Si no se queda en una estrella es sólo porque es tan corto que tuve la paciencia de terminarlo.
Profile Image for Alison.
Author 4 books8 followers
August 23, 2011
Picked almost at random as something that looked good to read on holiday. Wow. This is one of the best books I've read this year. Xavier Ireland is a late night radio DJ, working with his friend Murray to help listeners with their problems. Xavier has a secret though, and it's the reason he is in London instead of his home country, Australia. When Xavier fails to help a teenage boy from being bullied it sets in motion a chain of events that affect the lives of eleven strangers.

The "butterfly effect", "Sliding doors" and the "six degrees of separation" theories have often been used in novels but never to such devastating effect as in Eleven. With a huge cast of characters it's sometimes difficult to keep up with what's going on, but Xavier is one of the most memorable characters I've come across and I will remember this book for a while yet.

This book is similar in style to One Day so if you liked that, you'll love this!
Profile Image for H R Koelling.
297 reviews12 followers
September 10, 2016
This was a sweet book with a great tone. I could really relate to the protagonist, who was a deeply caring person who often tried too much until a great calamity befell him, which suppressed his benevolent character.

And, although the concept of tying people's lives together through seemingly inconsequential events is not new, I liked how the author presented the domino effect of missed opportunities that, in the end, make for a spectacular and unforeseen climax to the novel. How often, in retrospect, have we wondered how different our lives would be if we had just done a certain something differently? This book takes this concept a step further, showing us that our actions can have far reaching cyclical consequences, consequences that potentially influence the random strangers who shift in and out of our lives like background scenery. Unfortunately, the clouds and the sun and the trees and the banalities of our existence can be deadly.
Profile Image for Kelly.
1,299 reviews36 followers
June 22, 2012
I love Mark Watson's comedy and thought that this novel would be Laugh Out Loud funny like Watson's stand up routines, however 'Eleven'differed completely from my expectations. I really loved Xavier as a main character and the whole narrative and perspective. The subplots were as interesting and appealing as the main plot and the interweaving of characters was well thought-out. The only negative really was that I found the connections to be a bit too clunky, I would have liked more of subtlety, I would have prefered to have the connections revealed later in the book, or to guess at the connections, rather than them being spelt out for me at the beginning of a paragraph or chapter.
Regardless I really loved this book and would absolutely read it again!
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