- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First edition (April 10, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743200039
- ISBN-13: 978-0743200035
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,207,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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karlmarx. com: A Love Story Hardcover – April 10, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
A 20th-century graduate student discovers that she and Karl Marx's daughter are doppelgngers in this heartfelt but awkward debut novel. Modern-day Ella Kennedy is a Ph.D. candidate struggling to complete her dissertation on Eleanor Marx before her wealthy father cuts her off. To support herself, Ella lands a job at a consulting firm called the Institute of Thought, whose sole client a group known as the Neoclassicists for Universal Thought and Study (NUTS) wants Ella to set up a Web site hawking Karl Marx merchandise. She soon falls in love with a stammering, attractive Englishman (who happens to looks just like Hugh Grant), despite the fact that he's married. He moves in with her, refuses to talk about his past and begins writing an existentialist play set in a discount store. As this untenable situation deteriorates, Ella begins to pick up disturbing echoes of her life in the history of Eleanor Marx, who fell in with a no-good Englishman of her own a century before. Will Ella share Eleanor's tragic fate? By the end, the question is leached of interest, overwhelmed by Coll's labored humor and by the meandering story line. Most problematic is the wildly inconsistent tone: sometimes the novel reads like satire (TV crews camp outside Ella's workplace hoping to catch a glimpse of what they believe is America's last remaining Marxist), and at other times, it reads like the most banal kind of realism (for example, giving far too much detail on Ella's failure to understand PageMaker and HTML). The novel has potential the irony of exploiting Marx for financial gain is a promising premise, as is the aimlessness of a young woman without a cause but it never quite reaches fruition. Agent, Melanie Jackson.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Farcical and full of plot twists, Coll's novel is a poignant tale of insecurity and obsession. Ella Kennedy is a graduate student in political theory, struggling to write a doctoral thesis about Karl Marx's daughter, Eleanor, while supporting herself as a waitress. Things seem to be looking up when she moves to Washington, D.C., to create a commercial Web site about Marx for the Institute of Thought, but shortly thereafter Ella meets Nigel, an absent-minded, emotionally vulnerable ornithologist whose wife has left him, and, in spite of his self-absorption, falls madly in love. Flashing back and forth between the chaos in Ella's own life and the life of the unhappy Eleanor Marx, Coll examines the question, Why do otherwise intelligent women get involved with men who take advantage of them? Although the ending is unsatisfying, as Ella doesn't seem to learn much from her travails, the reader will gain a great deal of insight into the ways in which passion can mislead even the most rational, educated woman. Bonnie Johnston
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
I live in DC, so maybe that adds to why a liked it, but I think this book would generally appeal to any person who has a habit of getting stuck in absurd situations and is too shy or directionless to pull out. That's the main character's flaw. It was graduate school for me, as well as for main character Ella Kennedy.
Ella faces the absurdities of an unfinished disertation, her DC think-tank, and relationships with her parents, boyfriend, and ex-bestfriend. At the same time, I enjoyed the reconsiderations of Karl Marx, and the parallel story of Karl Marx's doomed daughter (the subject of Ella's errant disertation).
But more entertaining for me were the generational differences Ella must ford through; from her boss's instruction to whip out a web-page overnight (even though the computer doesn't even have a modem) to her super-capitalist dad who is uninterestedly humored by her daughter's dabblings in the history of Marx. A live in British boyfriend who smokes like a chimney and can only communicate when the subject is orinthology -- although not a cross-generation relationship -- presents similar difficulties to Ella just the same.
Although some plots develop in a whacky direction, they resolve themselves well before they reach ridiculously unbelievable levels. The result is a quick book of very human situations and dialouge filled with good solid comedy.