The first in The Rotters' Club series, bestselling author Jonathan Coe's iconic tale of Benjamin Trotter is a hilarious, heartfelt celebration of the joys and agonies of growing up
WINNER OF THE EVERYMAN WODEHOUSE PRIZE
Birmingham, England, c. 1973: industrial strikes, bad pop music, first love, corrosive class warfare, detention, IRA bombings.
Four friends: a class clown who stoops very low for a laugh; a confused artist enthralled by rock; an earnest radical with socialist leanings; and a quiet dreamer obsessed with poetry, God, and the prettiest girl in school.
Unforgettably funny and painfully honest, packed with thwarted romance, class struggles and teenage angst, The Rotter's Club is perfect for readers of Nick Hornby and William Boyd - or anyone who ever experience adolescence the hard way!
THE STORY CONTINUES WITH THE CLOSED CIRCLE AND MIDDLE ENGLAND
'One of those sweeping, ambitious yet hugely readable, moving and richly comic novels that you find all too rarely in English fiction . . . a masterpiece' Daily Telegraph
'Very funny . . . a compulsive and gripping read. Coe had achieved that rare feat: a novel stuffed with characters you really care for' The Times
'A book to cherish, a book to reread, a book to buy for all your friends' Independent on Sunday
This witty, sprawling and ambitious novel relates the coming-of-age stories of a group of adolescents in Birmingham, England, in the 1970s, with the era itself becoming a kind of character, encompassing trivialities like music as well as more serious issues: labor struggles, racism, terrorism. Of course, the teenagers Benjamin Trotter (a play on his name accounts for the novel's title) and three of his male classmates, along with two female peers, are struggling with their own timeless issues: Why are my parents so weird? Will I ever have sex? Is Eric Clapton God? Coe amusingly and sympathetically articulates the desperate nature of teenage life, demonstrating a sure command of his protagonists' vernacular. He juxtaposes "crises" of adolescence with much more compelling events: a pub bombing by Irish nationalists and drawn-out strikes, for example, and the very real toll they take on people, including some of his characters. But this interweaving also reveals the novel's biggest problem: the combination of these two narrative strands isn't as seamless as it ought to be, nor as illuminating as Coe intends. The book is Dickensian in scope, with multiple plot lines and perspectives as well as miniature portraits of virtually everyone connected with the teens. Unfortunately, the narrative is sometimes hard to follow, and individual characters often remain opaque. The difficulty is compounded by rapidly shifting perspectives and an awkward framing narrative set in the early 2000s. As he demonstrated in his well-received novel about the Thatcher years, The Winshaw Legacy, Coe is immensely clever, but that cleverness is almost misplaced here: universal as it may be, adolescent angst doesn't really compare to the problems of massive social change. FYI:This novel is intended as the first of a two-book series, the second of which will revisit the characters' lives in the 1990s.
A strange book. Almost a stream of consciousness with very little in the way of story to link it together. When I finished it I felt sort of cheated, as if I’d wasted the time I’d put into it because it didn’t go anywhere.
I found it too dense in terms of huge chunks of wandering but intense thoughts with little chance to draw breath. And at the end ?????
Not enough white space for me.