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Maxwell Sim seems to have hit rock bottom. Estranged from his father, newly divorced, unable to communicate with his only daughter, he realizes that while he may have seventy-four friends on Facebook, there is nobody in the world with whom he can actually share his problems.
Then a business proposition comes his way - a strange exercise in corporate PR that will require him to spend a week driving from London to a remote retail outlet on the Shetland Isles. Setting out with an open mind, good intentions and a friendly voice on his SatNav for company, Maxwell finds that this journey soon takes a more serious turn, and carries him not only to the furthest point of the United Kingdom, but into some of the deepest and darkest corners of his own past.
In his sparkling and hugely enjoyable new book Jonathan Coe reinvents the picaresque novel for our time.
THE BOOK EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT'' THE TIMESbr>br>''It was tempting to think, at times like this, that some bizarre hysteria had gripped the British people'' br>br>Beginning eight years ago on the outskirts of Birmingham, where car factories have been replaced by Poundland, and London, where frenzied riots give way to Olympic fever, Middle England follows a brilliantly vivid cast of characters through a time of immense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.br>br>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.br>br> Following in the footsteps of The Rotters'' Club and The Closed Circle, Jonathan Coe''s new novel is the novel for our strange new times. br>br>br>''From post-industrial Birmingham to the London riots and the current political gridlock, [Middle England] takes in family, literature and love in a comedy for our times'' Guardianbr>br>''Coe shows an understanding of this country that goes beyond what most cabinet ministers can muster . . . his light, funny writing makes you feel better'' Evening Standardbr>br>''Middle England is a full-blooded state of the nation novel, and it brings us bang up-to-date'' Sunday Timesbr>br>Coe is an extraordinarily deft plotter...the book zips along...he tackles big ambitious themes, in this case the effect of politics on people''s lives, and political opinions on personal relations'' Mail on Sundaybr>br>''What is striking about Coe is not so much his flight from Enghlishness as his ambivalent embrace of it '' Financial Timesbr>br>''Slick . . . stylishly engineered . . . you''ll marvel at the extraordinary attention to detail'' Spectatorbr>br>''Coe''s comic critique of a divided country dazzles . . . Properly laugh-out-loud funny . . . it is also incisive and brilliant about our divided country and the deep chasms revealed by the vote to leave. Do not miss'' The Bookseller>
Jonathan Coe's Pentatonic is a daring and original story about family and memory inspired by music.
When a family celebrates the prize-giving day at their daughter's secondary school, thoughts turn to their own childhoods. The father remembers his living room piano recital, recorded on a well-worn cassette tape. The mother remembers her own father's war tragedy. As the father searches for the physical reminder of his past and the mother longs to forget her own, they confront the breakdown of their marriage in the present.
In Pentatonic, Jonathan Coe movingly explores the memories that unite us and the experiences that drive us apart. The story is simultaneously available as a digital download with the piece of music which originally inspired the story.
Praise for Jonathan Coe:
'Probably the best English novelist of his generation' Nick Hornby 'Coe has huge powers of observation and enormous literary panache' Sunday Times 'Jonathan Coe's a fine writer who seems to try something new with every book' David Nicholls Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham in 1961. He is the author of eight bestselling novels including What a Carve Up! and The Rotters' Club, and a biography of the novelist B. S. Johnson, Like a Fiery Elephant, which won the 2005 Samuel Johnson Prize for best non-fiction book of the year.