- Paperback: 251 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books (1975)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140170987
- ISBN-13: 978-0140170986
- ASIN: B005D5EPCG
- Package Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 61 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,380,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Changing Places Paperback – 1975
This month's Book With Buzz: "Stranger in the House" by Shari Lapena
In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A thriller packed full of secrets and a twisty story that never stops - from the bestselling author of "The Couple Next Door." See more
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
These two swap jobs in a professorial exchange in the first novel "Changing Places" and Lodge gets a lot of his humor from the significant differences between life in Britain and the US at that time. Both individuals engage in the exchange for more personal reasons than career but both manage to make an impact in unexpected ways. "Small World" is set in 1979 and is centered on the extensive and expensive conference circuit that academics enjoyed at that time. Of the three novels, it is probably the most specific to the world of academia and has a very large cast of characters whose stories intermingle. However, with a strong story and terrific pacing the somewhat esoteric world is brought to life although occasionally it's a struggle to remember who's who. The final novel, "Nice Work" is set primarily back in the UK in the midst of the Thatcher reforms, during which both industry and the universities were under significant pressures. Robyn Penrose, a temporary lecturer, a postmodernist, deconstructionist feminist, is pushed into being a "shadow" of Vic Wilcox, a "down-to-earth" managing director of an engineering firm The clash of the these two alien cultures produces a number of issues, including a strike, but in the end both learn important lessons from the other. The ending is rather "deus ex machina" as a whole series of issues are resolved but you are still interested at the end in what happens to these characters and that's usually a sign of a well written novel.
The time frame and events covered by these novels is very much aligned with my own life. I was an exchange high school student from the UK to the US in 1970 and was heavily involved in the Thatcher years working in industry so there are many direct experiences that I relate to specifically. Whether it would be as relevant and as funny to other people I don't know. However, the fact that I enjoyed "Small Worlds", the setting of which is outside my experience, suggests that the quality of writing and story telling overcomes lack of immediate knowledge. For non-British readers I thought, particularly in "Nice Work", that some of the points being made would be lost without further explanation. For example, can you really understand why unions are being hypocritical by offering discounted BUPA if you don't know that it is private medical insurance that enables one to get preferential treatment?
However, these concerns are relatively small and I'd recommend this very clever trilogy.
"His soul, like his stomach, was in turmoil. Melanie's casual compliance with his tired, clumsy lust seemed, in retrospect, shocking, moving, exciting, baffling. He couldn't guess what significance she might attach to the event; and didn't know, therefore, how to behave when they next met. But, he reminded himself, holding his throbbing head in both hands, problems of etiquette were secondary to problems of ethics. The basic question was: did he want to do it again?"
CHANGING PLACES is aptly named, since this campus novel and satire shows two professors, who are opposites in almost every respect, assuming each other's faculty positions in an exchange program and then acquiring loving roles in each other's family and marriage. IMHO, this dynamic works well when the funny David Lodge is exploring the politics and pressures of academic life or the strum und drang (or boredom) of marriage. This dynamic also enables Lodge to present both a cynic's and innocent's reaction to 1960's-style political agitation. Even so, Lodge's satire eventually migrates to the zone of total improbability, where it devolves into farce. Then, his narrative seems clever but not especially insightful.
In CHANGING PLACES, Lodge, the literary man, sometimes winks at his readers. At one point, for example, the spouses are exchanging letters. In one, Hilary Swallow writes: "Do you still want me to send on "Let's Write a Novel"? There's a whole chapter on how to write an epistolary novel, but surely nobody's done that since the eighteenth century?" In the meantime, Lodge writes two long chapters in epistolary style. And, Philip Swallow, a la Moses Herzog, actively composes many funny letters in his mind.
Likewise, Lodge writes his final chapter in the style of a movie script, where one character says: "You sound like a couple of script writers discussing how to wind up a play." Finally, an insight in "Let's Write a Novel" is: "The best kind of story is the one with a happy ending; the next best is the one with an unhappy ending, and the worst kind is the story that has no ending at all." Naturally, this is the ending Lodge chooses for CHANGING PLACES.
One day, I will surely read SMALL WORLD and NICE WORK, the two remaining books in Lodge's THE CAMPUS TRILOGY. And when doing so, I'll expect good books that are more clever than deep.