SueLucie's Reviews > Middle England

Middle England by Jonathan Coe
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really liked it
bookshelves: 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 ‘The Rotters’ Club’ or its sequel. I realise now that the characters I most engaged with here are integral to those two books. Yet ‘Middle England’ is perfectly successful as a stand-alone novel - there are brief mentions of past events but none of the laboured rehashing often seen in sequels. I was particularly swept up in two of the relationships (Ben/Jennifer, Sophie/Ian), written with a sympathetic and delicate touch, but I have one major niggle about the characters. Where did the gorgeous and doughty Naheed go? I would have liked her to continue to feature large as the story unfolded.

High calibre writing (as you’d expect from Coe), but not a lot of laughs (and I’d come to expect more of those from him). The situation is too real and raw to be funny, certainly not yet.

With thanks to Penguin/Viking via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.
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Reading Progress

October 22, 2018 – Started Reading
October 22, 2018 – Shelved
October 22, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
October 22, 2018 – Shelved as: netgalley
October 27, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Roman Clodia I agree there was less wit and humour than we expect from Coe: as you say, probably too raw and ongoing - hope it was cathartic for him to write.


SueLucie I hope so too. He obviously feels strongly about it, as does everyone, brave of him to tackle such current issues.


Marina Yes I agree - it's all too recent and raw.


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