Monday, July 11, 2005

The Closed Circle - Jonathan Coe

When the Daily Telegraph says “Wonderful, hilarious” I just know it is referring to some sort of fox hunting, or power shower humour that, not being British, I am only going to half get, then disgrace myself by laughing when everybody else says “Very droll Bertie, very droll.” And so it was with The Tele’s endorsement of The Closed Circle, Jonathan Coe’s years-later Rotter’s Club sequel.
Just as British viewers notice a faint shadow as Kath & Kim’s Australian humour sails over their heads, the laughs in The Closed Circle shot past me without even a faint whistling sound. Fortunately the British clubbers chortled their way through the book, loving the carefully crafted characters and Jonathan Coe’s ability to draw every-day chuckles from every-day life.
The Closed Circle picks-up The Rotters’ Club characters 20 years on. If you missed it there is a synopsis if The Rotters’ Club at the back of The Closed Circle which, I think, is the funniest thing in the book. If you remember The Rotters’ Club: Benjamin is an accountant, has been writing a novel for 20 years, is married to Emily and dominated by Cicely, despite her 20 year absence; Paul is a new labour politician; Miriam is still missing; Claire still misses her, is no longer married to Philip chase, and they have a son named Patrick; Doug Anderton is a journalist with a wealthy wife, a family and a house in Chelsea. There is a German industrialist named Gunter, some white supremacists with a witty turn of phrase and a new character – Malvina, a confusing girl with a sexy brain, who keeps the story moving by causing confusion and being sexy.
The characters in The Closed Circle are lovely creations. They all look like typical English stereotypes, as the English do, then refuse to play true to their stereotypes as the English do even better.
While all the clubbers enjoyed The Closed Circle, none would say it rocked their worlds, but it is not that kind of book. If anything, it’s the opposite: the antidote - a book for reading on your summer holiday, or on the tube, or when you need to spend time with friends and there are none to hand.
The Closed Circle set a mellow tone for the debut outing of Book Club Too: the Penguin book club. Perhaps this was aided by London’s explosive return to interesting times on July 7 and the absence of many of the double clubbers – the most ferocious of the bookworms. Whatever the reason for the mellow vibe, I hope it carries into next month when Neil Griffiths, author of Betrayal in Naples will be on hand to defend his work. Will the most vocal clubbers stay true to form when staring into the eyes of one who puts his pen where his mouth is? Stay tuned…

Who: Jonathan Coe - Penguin
What: The Closed Circle
When: July 2005
Where: London
Why: It's the sequel to The Rotter's Club
Why not: It's the sequel to The Rotter's Club
How much: £7.99 (paperback)
(This review was first published in "H" the magazine of The Hospital)


Blogger Wyndham said...

Gosh, you're a fast reader.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Damian said...

Oops - miss-dated post. Corrected now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 11:47:00 AM  

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