©2004 Jonathan Coe; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Coe has managed to create a whole plethora of memorable and exciting characters, lovingly mingling the realistic - like Ben Trotter, the clueless dreamer, and Doug - with characters of almost Dickensian simplicity which tend to carry the humour but even these tokens, such as the absurd Mr Plumb and the bizarre Cicely, are brought to life in Coe's gifted hand.
As child of the 80s I was expecting to have to grapple with the history and feign interest, but not so! He demonstrates how these events developed into the politics of today, and cleverly nods to the future through the lens of people who don't yet know what is to come (Such as when a cock-sure character joyfully proclaims that Thatcher will never be Prime Minister!).
The style of writing is transparent - that is to say, it neither adds to the thrill of the story, but neither does it intrude on the enchanting plot which travels to Wales and even Denmark and Berlin in its quest to allegorize the Britain of the 70s.
The narrator of the audio version was born for the role, and I whole-heartedly believe that his authentic portrayal of voice and accent transformed the experience of this novel; made it better. His delivery brings Coe's humour to life, allowing for the ever-evasive "laugh out loud" we all hope for from a novel of this sort, as well as for the tears the close the first chapter. I have to admit that i couldn't get into the paperback version of this book, while the audiobook completely opened it up.
Every person in the class for this novel found a character to whom they could relate, and who they truly cared about. For most of us, including my parents (who were Ben's age in the 70s) this character was Ben Trotter, or his friend Doug. There are a lot of people out there that loved this novel. I am one of them, and I hope you will be too.
Jonathan Coe gives us a brilliant snapshot of life in the 1970's. You cringe at the memories conjured by the scenes he creates - how 'Blue Nun' was a sophisticated wine to go with your 'steak and chips' and having mushrooms with your steak was really pushing the boat out.
You are drawn to the characters of the teenagers as they embark on their voyage of self discovery, struggling to make sense of the world they are to inherit. They watch as their parents have to contend with political unrest and personal crisis. Racism and class warfare are rife, even at the local grammar school, affecting the lives of the young friends.
The Rotters Club was especially poignant for me growing up in Birmingham - a contemporary of those same teenagers.
Coilin Buchanan does a great job of the brummie accent, which is rare in someone who is not a native.
This is by far and away one of the best downloads I had ever had from this website. This is an evocative and poignant re-creation of growing up in the seventies, against a background of racial tension, powercuts and strikes, told with humour and sympathy. I was a bit put-off by the references in other reviews of the reader's brummie accent - but it really added to the storytelling, and Colin Buchanan's portrayal of both male and female characters is superb. I can't praise this highly enough. On the front of the paperback edition of this book it says 'you will want to buy this for all of your friends' - and this is very much how I feel!
A little confusing at first. However, once into the story found it easy to listen to and funny in places. I enjoyed the reminder of life in the 70's and was shocked to realise that I had survived my youth with only three channels on the television and no mobile phone. Made me realise how much life has changed in my recent past. Also quite interesting angle on the long lasting after effects of crime on the victim and their family.
I had high expectations for this book, given the reviews posted, but these were soon dashed; The author himself seems unsure what type of book he wants to write, and this shows throughout the book as it flits from being a trip down memory lane, a love story, or a political statement. I struggled to finish the audible book, and was even more devastated to find there was no ending! Maybe the author had a tight deadline.
"I 'm downloading the follow-up as I type"
This is welll-written, humorous and clever social commentary on 70's UK, in the best tradition of Brit literary comedy but with postmodern twists. As I get older, I tend to neglect younger authors, but this guy unites the best of new and old traditions. I thank Audible for having this on sale so often that I finally bought it.
"A 'series' is my guess"
This had been on my wish list for a long time. Colin Buchannan read well. The style of writing was fine. As 'adolescents growing up' in the 70's, the subject was pretty good.
I expect I am meant to purchase another book to find out what happens to Ben. The story was incomplete.
The story starts with two young adult children talking about family. Most of the novel is about Uncle Ben, his family, school and friends. It ends with the young adults having a meal. What happened to Ben!!
" Now it is your turn" ( to tell a story) simply annoys me. No doubt the next novel has another focus, and no doubt Ben will reappear. Even in a series I do like each story to stand alone as a novel.
Three stars is probably too many, yet Buchannan's reading was good throughout and it was the author who annoyed me with the ending.
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