Mike Engleby says things that others dare not even think. When the novel opens in the 1970s, he is a university student, having survived a "traditional" school. A man devoid of scruple or self-pity, Engleby provides a disarmingly frank account of English education. Yet beneath the disturbing surface of his observations lies an unfolding mystery of gripping power. One of his contemporaries unaccountably disappears, and as we follow Engleby's career, which brings us up to the present day, we are led to ask: is Engleby capable of telling the whole truth?
©2007 Sebastian Faulks; (P)2007 W F Howes Ltd
"Terrible - In the very best way!"
This was my introduction to Sebastian Faulks (I know, I know). To be honest, the first thing that struck me was the quality of the reading which is so well measured against the text. Then comes the narrative - gripping, nostalgic (70's - if you were there)and symapthetic; and a story that unravels in what initially appears to be an obvious way and then changes direction like a waterboatman. Mesmerising.
I have not heard a finer audiobook in the last three years - and I listen to lots. I actually believe that hearing this version, rather than reading the book myself, was a better experience on this occasion.
"Wow but Brrr"
Brrr its quite a chilling book. A strong story but it has that added sense of looking at a personality disorder from the inside that came with ?...The Dog in the night?.
It is compelling and excellently read.
I saw Sebastion Faulks at Hay a couple of years back and he has a deep interest in mental illness which is demonstrated in the work. Don?t get the idea that this is a difficult book far from it, like much great literature it is both profound and accessible.
If you find a better audio book than this let me know because I will want to hear it!
Brilliantly read, Engleby kept me transfixed during a long business trip. Michael Engleby's life from the 70's (just before my time but the references were so familiar)is the story of a misfit, a man with no scruples or insight. The feeling of something disturbing ,a secret, lurking just below the surface is palpable. Will Engleby ever reveal the truth to himself? I am so glad I didn't read the book because the way the tale is told is gripping - a fantastic listen.
"Brilliant book, brilliantly performed"
If you come to this book as I did via Birdsong, then you will find this a very different proposition, but for my money a better book. It's difficult to say much about it without giving away the plot, but to describe this novel as a 'psychological thriller' would be to do it a massive injustice. This is a technical masterpiece by one of the finest British writers alive today. Every word is spoken through the principal character, whom we follow from school through university and beyond. One engages with this single character through formative experiences that are vividly drawn in a dark, but totally credible life. There are flashes of erudition, scenes of dark tension, yet it is often 'laugh out loud' funny. The differences in perspective that other characters bring on Engleby are introduced with great skill. It was only when I finished this book that I realised quite how well it was written and constructed.
This brilliant, superbly written story would not work as an audiobook without a similarly brilliant performance by the reader. I say 'performance' advisedly; Micheal Maloney renders Engelby wonderfully. He interprets the principal character with a deft, pitch-perfect delivery. If there is such a thing as the 'Oscars' for reading audiobooks, then this deserves a nomination.
"Dark and a little disturbing!"
Engleby is one of the most unique books that I have come across. At first I assumed it was about the life of a Oxbridge university student that has made his way from a lower class background. However this story takes a sudden drastic turn where you question the sanity of Mike Engleby.
I really enjoyed how during the first half of the book I sympathised with Engleby, particularly as he seemed to meet unintelligent and self-obsessed people constantly. However you begin to realise, particularly as you start to hear Jennifer's journal, that it seems to be Mike that has the personality problems.
As he struggles to come to grips with reality you feel yourself slipping with him as you listen on, and this feeling that Faulks manages to stir in the listener, really makes this book stand out. Engleby's narrative is so detailed and really allows the reader to envisage his life and experience each moment with him.
I found this book disturbing, melancholy but at times quite humourous. I would definitely recommend this book but be warned it is not a happy listen!
Having read the reviews, I downloaded this book and to begin with was quite hopeful but I found that the melancholy of Mike Engelby and his world weariness at such a young age became depressing. I really wanted something a bit more 'interesting' to happen. I agree that the reading was good, it's probably the reason I completed the listen but I very nearly stopped with a couple of hours to go. For those of us of a certain age the nostalgia of the groups and songs of the time probably added to the feeling of moroseness of the text. I don't think I'll read another Faulks just yet!
"A gripping story, well-read."
It is quite brave on the part of the author to have someone like Mike Engleby as the main character (he certainly isn't a 'hero'), as he is thoroughly unpleasant. Disturbed, deceitful, dishonest, preoccupied with smoking, drinking and taking illicit drugs, Engleby still managed to engage my interest, if not quite my sympathy. He offers no excuses for his appalling behaviour - the reader/listener has to make up their own mind whether he is mad or just bad. A police officer addresses him as "you little s**t" at one point, and I did rather agree with him.
A well-constructed plot with a poignant ending, and an effective evocation of university life in the days when undergrads wore duffel-coats and drank real ale. I'm not sure about the filo pastry, though - I don't think it would have been used for a pub pie until the 1980's.
One thing that did get on my nerves was Engleby's philosophising. It slowed down the narrative, and didn't offer any particularly original or thought-provoking insights. I also couldn't see the point of the episodes where Engleby encountered famous figures such as Margaret Thatcher and Ken Livingstone - the way they were depicted was cliched and caricatured.
Despite the criticisms, I would certainly recommend this book - it's a gripping story, and very well-read.
"Great Narrator - average book"
Wasn't inspired by the book but kept going because I felt the narrator was excellent.
Despite his strangeness, I unaccountably warmed to Engleby through a narrative that tries to understand one of society's outsiders. Engleby's forthrightness is very engaging and his self-detachment darkly gripping. The book lays its finger on the thin line between social normality and abnormality in an uncomfortable way that leaves its impression on the reader long after you've finished the book.
The reading is superb and this is deservedly one of the top sellers. A must-hear!
I adored this book. I only gave it ago because I had enjoyed Devil may Care.
The thing that really grabbed me was the fact that I really liked Mike Engelby. I enjoyed his views on the world without having much sympathy for them. I found him funny and warm in an isolated way. And although it is hard to really relate to Mike, you can not help but have some warmth for him if you have ever had the experience of being a little on the outside.
Added to this Maloney's narrative is hypnotic and the uplift at the end of every line really draws one in. It is not a diary, but a journal and it really does give one the experiance of living along side Mike through all the years covered. I really can not recommend this book enough. Added to that it is set in Reading(well a bit of it is) what more could you ask for in a book?
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