Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Book Review: Middle England - J. Coe

With one exception, I loved all Jonathan Coe's novels. I think he ia extremely good in describing society, politics with a very British sense of humor. I have been reading his books since I was in my teens and had the pleasure to attend an event where he presented a novel in Cambridge some eight years ago.
Middle England is THE picture of what society, politics and economy is in England now and has been in the last ten years. The middle class not being able to afford the previous life style, people feeling unsure about the future, the increased confusion about Brexit, politics diving families.
It is not easy to write a novel about the current political status without becoming boring or giving away preferences. But Coe has really managed to give an overview of the status quo with the different opinions, how the different generations feel about it, with his usual sense of humor and great ability of creating, on this case bringing back, complicated yet very realistic characters.
As a "foreigner" that has been living in the UK for almost twelve years and so have been part of the all saga described in the book, I think it was so refreshing and engaging reading about it in a novel.
Highly recommend it. There are parts that I would have made shorter but overall a really interesting read.

Overall rating:  7    Plot: 7,5   Writing style: 7   Cover:  6

Title: Middle England
Author: Jonathan Coe
Publisher: Viking
Pages: 432
Publication year: 2018

The Plot:
Beginning eight years ago on the outskirts of Birmingham, where car factories have been replaced by Poundland, and London, where frenzied riots give way to Olympic fever, Middle England follows a brilliantly vivid cast of characters through a time of immense change. There are newlyweds Ian and Sophie, who disagree about the future of the country and, possibly, the future of their relationship; Doug, the political commentator who writes impassioned columns about austerity from his Chelsea townhouse, and his radical teenage daughter who will stop at nothing in her quest for social justice; Benjamin Trotter, who embarks on an apparently doomed new career in middle age, and his father Colin, whose last wish is to vote in the European referendum. And within all these lives is the story of modern England: a story of nostalgia and delusion; of bewilderment and barely-suppressed rage.
The Author:
Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham in 1961. His novels include What a Carve Up!, The House of Sleep, The Rotters' Club, The Rain Before It Falls and Number 11. 
He has won many literary prizes at home and abroad, and his biography of the writer BS Johnson, Like A Fiery Elephant, won the Samuel Johnson Prize. Feature films have been made of his novels The Dwarves of Death (as Five Seconds To Spare) and The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim (as La vie très privée de Monsieur Sim). The Rotters' Club was adapted for BBC television in 2005, starring Sarah Lancashire, Alice Eve and Kevin Doyle.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Book review: The First Lady - J. Patterson & B. DuBois

I must say that I was very intrigued by the blurb of this book. I read some Patterson's novels before and, although enjoyable, they are nothing that special in my view, I do forget their plots after closing the book. I read The President is missing and I was curios to see how the "female" version of it would plan out.
The novel starts well, gripping and building up curiosity, but the second half and the end is quite disappointing, too unrealistic and "fictional".

Overall rating:  6    Plot: 6   Writing style: 6,5   Cover:  6

Title: The First Lady
Author: James Patterson & Brendan DuBois
Publisher: Century
Pages: 368
Publication year: 2018

The Plot:
President Tucker is caught up in a media firestorm. The scandal of his affair has sent shockwaves through his re-election campaign, and threatens to derail everything he has worked for. To win the vote, he needs the First Lady to stand by his side.
But Grace Tucker has a mind of her own.
After years of compromise, unfulfilled promises, deception and betrayal, Grace refuses to give in to her husband's deamnds. Escaping the city and her Secret Service agents, she is officially off the radar. 
But did the First Lady run away? Or is she in far greater danger than anyone could have imagined?

The Authors:
James Brendan Patterson (born March 22, 1947) is an American author and philanthropist. Among his works are the Alex CrossMichael BennettWomen's Murder ClubMaximum RideDaniel XNYPD RedWitch and Wizard, and Private series, as well as many stand-alone thrillers, non-fiction and romance novels. His books have sold more than 300 million copies.

Brendan DuBois is an American mystery fiction and suspense writer. In this field he has twice won a Shamus Award for Best Short Story of the Year.