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New Cardiff Hardcover – January, 2002


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Hardcover, January, 2002
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: San Val (January 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1417721294
  • ISBN-13: 978-1417721290
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his first novel in more than 25 years, the author of The Graduate relies almost exclusively on witty, ironic dialogue to explore a rather tortured romantic triangle. Recently dumped by his girlfriend and believing that the cure for heartache may be travel, young Brit Colin Ware flies to New York and takes a bus north. He has no particular destination in mind, so when he spots a fascinating monument in the town of New Cardiff, Vt., he disembarks. After he spills his guts to the manager of the motel where he is staying, she decides that Colin might make a good match for her friend Mandy Martin, a caregiver at the local rest home who is currently between boyfriends. Colin and Mandy hit it off, and things move along swimmingly until Colin's ex, Vera, hits town to try to reconcile with him after lying about her impending marriage to another man. She does some serious damage to Colin's new relationship when she hunts down Mandy and tells her a series of fibs about Colin's need to return to England. Webb works some serious romantic magic with his dialogue, and the early scenes involving Colin and Mandy have a special chemistry and charm. But Vera emerges as a woefully incomplete character and, as the story progresses, the absence of prose interludes begins to make the steadily tongue-in-cheek dialogue cloying. Webb is a wonderfully playful writer who does a nice job of stretching out a familiar story, but this book comes off as an attractive but flawed cross between an overextended screenplay and an underwritten novel.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Best known for his novel The Graduate, which director Mike Nichols turned into an American movie classic, Webb has lived for many years in England a situation he uses to great advantage in this wonderful romantic comedy. The story begins when British artist Colin Ware (note that these are Webb's own initials) arrives in the small Vermont town of New Cardiff, attracted, he says, by the battlefield monument in its town square. He is running from a failed relationship, having learned of his longtime girlfriend's wedding to another man when an invitation to the ceremony arrived in the mail. In New Cardiff, he meets and falls for Mandy, a vivacious young American who works in a home for older people and who becomes his muse. Then old girlfriend Vera shows up, explaining that there never was another man it was a poor joke cooked up by a jealous younger sister. Colin is not amused, and besides, he is now in love with someone else. At first, Vera succeeds in breaking up the romance, but love prevails. Colin and Mandy end up in the British seaside town of Brighton, where she runs a home for retired bus conductors and he, after a fallow period, is inspired to reignite his artistry. The story, including the narrative exposition, is told almost completely through dialog, and Webb's perfect pitch for speech patterns and patter makes this quick, entertaining piece worth curling up with on a cold winter evening. Highly recommended. Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib. of New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

No descriptions, little action -- just page after page of dialogue.
E. A Solinas
Something isn't right about this one, and this feeling is stronger than ever after having learnt it's about to be made into a movie.
jodie
Also, the dialogue for the most part is interesting and "different" from most books, which makes this a fun read.
Michael A. Newman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By erica on September 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
"New Cardiff" describes the American vacation of London artist Colin Ware, who flees a failed love affair and finds himself washed up in the small town of New Cardiff, Vermont, home to an assortment of strange Americans and a struggling tourist industry. He manages to forget his troubles briefly, sketching townspeople and developing a relationship with another woman, but when his old girlfriend journeys from England to retrieve him his new life goes suddenly awry.
This story has much going for it. It's a classic love story complete with jealous rivalry, a long journey, and the promise (or threat) of marriage, but with quirky and entertaining plot twists to keep it fresh. The dialogue is rapid and often witty. The residents of New Cardiff are an amusing set of characters and provide comic relief.
But there's nothing in the story to provide comic relief *from*. The author never really gets into his story. The book is - despite its heft - actually quite short, with lots of blank space on each page, and is almost entirely composed of dialogue. The limitations of this format - no description or exposition - nearly overwhelm the story, and make any exploration of the characters or of the larger themes of the book impossible.
The book's continuous banter is surprisingly easy to read, and a hundred pages can fly by in an hour. But this ease and speed have a price: the whole book - all 354 pages of it - can be read in an evening and forgotten by the next morning, a frivolous waste of a story that could be so much more interesting.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
Charles Webb is best known for writing the soulless novel that inspired classic film "The Graduate." In "New Cardiff" he tackles a somewhat softer story, but his minimalist writing and flat supporting characters make it a story as light and forgettable as a breath of smoke.
Colin Ware is an English guy who has just been dumped for another man. Miserable, he decides to get over her (in the tradition of old novels) by going to the US, and somehow ends up in the dinky Vermont town of New Cardiff. The inhabitants are a bit odd but friendly, and Colin befriends quite a few when he sketches their portraits. He also becomes acquainted with Mandy, a smart, supportive young woman who starts giving him therapy for his broken heart.
But then Vera -- the woman who dumped Colin -- comes onto the scene. She reveals that the guy she supposedly dumped him for was all part of an elaborate joke. Colin forgives her for her involvement in tricking him, but now he's got an awkward love triangle to deal with. Vera is determined to scupper his new relationship with Mandy, and Mandy is saying that she never wants to see him again.
"New Cardiff" starts off on a promising note, with a guy going to new places to mend his broken heart. And the basic plot is a classic one -- a love triangle where the third party has to deal with old and new lovers, as represented by the countries they come from. But it feels instantly forgettable. Webb adds nothing new to the tale, and despite being around 350 pages long, the story itself is very short.
But Webb's writing is not up to the task -- it's suspended somewhere between bland screenplay and not-detailed-enough fiction. No descriptions, little action -- just page after page of dialogue.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jodie on January 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Webb likes his love triangles. New Cardiff is the fourth Webb novel I've read, and I'm sure i would have liked New Cardiff more if i liked The Graduate less. It was similar in many ways, a quick read, beautiful characters that you felt you knew but a third of the way in i could have guessed it was going to be made into a movie. It had me giggling early on but i doubt i would have been doing so if at the time of reading i wasnt myself a stranger living in a strange land called america, desiring to drive on the left side of the road and regularly finding myself having to search for words that make sense to those around me. The novel begins to dry up somewhere around the time Vera enters the picture, and dies altogether before the book ends. Something isn't right about this one, and this feeling is stronger than ever after having learnt it's about to be made into a movie. Colin Firth is great, i mean he is Mr Darcy, but c'mon.. anyone would think hugh grant and colin firth are the only actors with a british accent. If you like Nick Hornby novels you'll like New Cardiff. But, if youre expecting the graduate.. do not, you'll be disappointed. Ah hell, maybe it was fantastic but just not for me, but i suspect this isnt the case.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Eden Sidney Foster on December 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is a joy. New Cardiff is almost entirely dialogue, with sparce description. Every detail is poignant, nothing is gratuitous. It may be hard to imagine that a book in which the storytelling is so simple could infuse it's characters with such complete personalities and so much truth. Webb knows his characters so well that it only takes a few words to make them come to life.
New Cardiff is a romantic comedy, so if you're looking for a book which boasts profound social commentary,(not to say that his observations of american culture aren't precise and hilarious, Webb has a sharp, artistic eye) this is not for you. Webb doesn't boast anything at all.
Webb's gift for not taking himself too seriously may cause some readers not to take this delightful novel seriously. There are those who say the work of Jane Austen is trivial, so I suspect that this book, for all it's humor, inteligence, irony, and exhilerating lack of vanity, will face similar criticism. But in this readers mind, there is nothing less trivial than love, art, or laughter.
I am so pleased to know that there is a movie being made with Colin Firth and Heather Graham in the lead roles. Inspired casting!
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