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What a Carve Up! cover art

What a Carve Up!

By: Jonathan Coe
Narrated by: Richard Goulding
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Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe, read by Richard Goulding.

It is the 1980s, and the Winshaw family are getting richer and crueller by the year: newspaper-columnist Hilary gets thousands for telling it like it isn't; Henry's turning hospitals into car parks; Roddy's selling art in return for sex; down on the farm Dorothy's squeezing every last pound from her livestock; Thomas is making a killing on the stock exchange; and Mark is selling arms to dictators.

But once their hapless biographer, Michael Owen, starts investigating the family's trail of greed, corruption and immoral doings, the time is growing ripe for the Winshaws to receive their comeuppance....

This wickedly funny take on life under the Thatcher government was the winner of the 1995 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.

Jonathan Coe's novels are filled with biting social commentary, moving and astute observations of life and hilarious set pieces that have made him one of the most popular writers of his generation.

©2019 Jonathan Coe (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"A sustained feat of humour, suspense and polemic, full of twists and ironies." (Hilary Mantel, Sunday Times)

"A riveting social satire on the chattering and all-powerful upper classes." (Time Out)

"Big, hilarious, intricate, furious, moving." (Guardian)

What listeners say about What a Carve Up!

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Fantastic storytelling, perfectly read

Brilliant book, great story, plausibly well written. I’ve come to Jonathan Coe very late, and have just listened to this in 2023, about 28 years after publication. Still absolutely relevant to the state of the nation.

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Great listen

Super story, quality writing and brilliantly narrated.All the characters bring something special to the story

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Loved it

Superb. Amazing book.
Among the best narration on any talking book I’ve heard.
What a brilliant experience.

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Utterly brilliant.

This is one of the best books I’ve read (heard!) in ages. The writing is perfectly judged: funny, lyrical in a few places, biting, astute, human … just glorious. Jonathan Coe has written such a carefully and precisely structured novel. It slowly builds, interweaving storylines with sure and total artistry. I loved every moment of it.
The performance is - thank goodness - one of the best I’ve heard on Audible. The many voices are perfectly judged, and he certainly has a big cast of characters to present. If I could offer Richard Goulding a prize for best Audible narrator, I would.

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Brilliant

A brilliant story, one of Coe's best, narrated just as it should be. This is a five star purchase. The story is brilliant. Definitely worth a credit.

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Absorbing

I really enjoyed this book. The narration was faultless, and the story was also memorable. Thank you Johnathan Coe. Keep up the good work!111

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Extraordinary story.

A most memorable yarn filled with political insights, mystery & intrigue, hilarity and poignancy. Reminded me of everything hateful about Thatcher era and Capitalism. Had me creased up with laughter at some points. Fantastically brought to life by Richard Goulding's narration. Absolutely recommend 100% entertainment. Bravo.

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Brilliant

A sophisticated narrative with great story telling, social commentary and interesting characters that is brilliantly read

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Brilliant

Brilliant book and performance. This is now one of my all time favourites. Thank you

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What an Incredible, Enjoyable Achievement

I have been exploring Jonathan Coe’s back catalogue of novels on a speculative basis, rather than based on professional or reader/listener reviews. ‘What a Carve Up’ has repeatedly surprised, delighted, appalled, angered, saddened, and astounded me. It is a big novel by size, but is a novel! It has real energy and momentum. It has love, horror, dark humour, parody, farce, pathos, thoughtfulness, penetrating insight and ferocity. A powerful satire. Sometimes it is so deliciously and comically wicked that you sense it must have been written with a great deal of enjoyment. I initially thought that being published in 1994 that it would read as a novel of its recent time. Only superficially did it. In fact, I found it as relevant today, if not more so. Prospective listeners to the superb audio-book should not hesitate to select this Audible offering. It is excellently performed by Richard Goulding, a versatile and intelligent reader who can illuminate the humour, satire, tragic, despicable, and plain immoral. The novel’s title may seem odd, but only if you focus on the early 60s British film of the same name. The ‘carving up’ is the greedy slicing up of a cake for selfish people at the expense of what should be the focus of preservation – society. The characters created by Jonathan Coe to tell his story are so well drawn and managed, not least Findlay Onyx. The story of members of the vile Winshaw family that are chosen to illustrate and animate the awfulness of selfishness, greed and utter disregard for anyone else, and nothing for the fabric of society and thereby the harm done to it. Their stories flow and collide with the story of Michael Owen who is engaged to write the family’s history. His life acts to link to others who part of the wider society, and who reflect the awfulness done by the Winshaws. Nothing of the above is suggesting this is a grim novel. Nor is its intricate construction something that the listener will be much aware of, other than to applaud. Everything is inevitable in this novel. The novel makes all of it points so well without preaching, so much so that it is hard to disagree with Coe’s concerns. They ought to be the concerns of anyone in a belief in a caring society.

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