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The Closed Circle Hardcover – May 24, 2005
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The Rotters' Club (2002), Coe's witty novel of teenage schoolmates growing up in 1970s Birmingham, England, introduced an expansive cast of characters. With echoes of Anthony Trollope and Anthony Powell, this wonderful, compulsively readable sequel explores the adults those young people became—it opens in 1999 and closes in 2003—and paints a satirical but moving portrait of life at the turn of the century. Claire Newman still mourns her sister, who vanished without a trace in The Rotters' Club. Benjamin Trotter still mourns his one true (teenage) love. His brother, Paul, is an ambitious member of Parliament in "Blair's Brave New Britain." Doug Anderton and Philip Chase became journalists, and the first book's other characters all reappear in some way or another (along with flashbacks to many of their teenage escapades). Coe cleverly works real events into the plot—London's Millennium Eve, the possible shutdown of a British auto manufacturer, the war in Iraq. The theme, as in The Rotters' Club, concerns the conflicts and connections between individual decisions and societal events, but while Coe's political sensibility is readily apparent, this novel, with its incredibly well developed characters and its immensely engaging narrative, is no polemical tract. It's a compelling, dramatic and often funny depiction of the way we live now—both savage and heartfelt at the same time. (May 31)
From The New Yorker
In this sequel to "The Rotters' Club," Paul Trotter wonders, "What sort of country are we living in?" One much changed, Coe is at constant pains to point out, in the twenty-six years since the story began, in nineteen-seventies Birmingham. There are cappuccinos in every café and mobile phones on every ear. The characters, however, remain largely the same. Last seen as a twelve-year-old Thatcherite, Paul is now one of New Labour's rising stars. His older brother Benjamin, the soulful literary aspirant whose concerns drove the first installment, remains obsessed with the school prima donna, whom no one has seen in the intervening years. Others in their group have settled into the usual midlife surprises and disappointments. Coe's knack for capturing an epoch is still strong, but, in contrast to the distant decade of the earlier book, his evocation of turn-of-the-millennium Britain seems very much yesterday's news.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
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Top customer reviews
I should say there is little fiction I read. Relationship-oriented fiction is often peopled by characters written to be inscrutable. I leave it feeling I’ve learned nothing. But Coe’s characters remind me of people I’ve known and been bewildered by (self-alienated depressed people, mistresses, the men who take them, even myself). This novel more than any of his others leaves me feeling I understand them better. I wish I could’ve read it when I was in college, to prepare me for what was to come. But it hadn’t been written yet, as I’m the same age as the second generation in this book (born in the last few days of the 70s).
In many ways, it’s a novel I wish I could’ve written. Thank you, Mr. Coe.
A truly impressive book. (Just don’t be put off by the first 15 or so pages of poor Claire sitting in traffic. I was initially. It gets much, much better.)
I am strongly biased in favour of these works, being an alumnus of King Edward's School (KES) the thinly disguised prototype of King William's. I am puzzled as to why this change of name was made. The school is so precisely described in the novels that its identity could not fail to br guessed by anyone familiar with that part of Birmingham. The writer was a pupil there, although not until shortly after I left. I could find no seriously libellous passages in the text, and even if there are, the school is so unmistakeable that the mere name change would not, I think have proved sufficient to deflect a well grounded suit. Puzzling.