Book Review: Number 11 by Jonathan Coe

number-11 What’s it about?

This is a novel about the hundreds of tiny connections between the public and private worlds and how they affect us all.

It’s about the legacy of war and the end of innocence.

It’s about how comedy and politics are battling it out and comedy might have won.

It’s about how 140 characters can make fools of us all.

It’s about living in a city where bankers need cinemas in their basements and others need food banks down the street.

It is Jonathan Coe doing what he does best ­ – showing us how we live now.

My thoughts

In my best Sesame Street voice this book is brought to you by the Number 11 and the characters Rachel and Alison!  I say this  because it’s like a series of short stories in one linked by the initial characters.

I’m not gonna lie I opened this book and saw the small black type and my heart sank but actually it’s really easy to get into and read despite the tiny type.  In a nutshell it’s the story of Rachel and Alison and their friendship since childhood set against significant historical or social events such as the Iraq war, and then later it even has a backdrop of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.  It’s very cleverly plotted and linked together and I was surprised at how much I liked it.

I’m sure there’s a deeper political undercurrent to this book but that kind of thing just goes over my head.  I read it for its enjoyment rather than to over-analyse its sub-concious meanings.

Overall, a really good read that I didn’t expect to like.  Read if you enjoyed The Trouble with Goats & Sheep by Joanna Cannon.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

WWW Wednesday (October 19th)

WWW WednesdayThis weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

To join in, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

I’m reading Number 11 by Jonathan Coe

I’m not gonna lie I opened this book and saw the small black type and my heart sank but actually it’s really easy to get into and read despite the tiny type.  So far it’s the story of Rachel and Alison and their friendship since childhood set against significant historical or social events such as the Iraq war, and then later it incorporates I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.  Very cleverly plotted, it’s like a series of short stories in one.

number-11The blurb

This is a novel about the hundreds of tiny connections between the public and private worlds and how they affect us all.

It’s about the legacy of war and the end of innocence.

It’s about how comedy and politics are battling it out and comedy might have won.

It’s about how 140 characters can make fools of us all.

It’s about living in a city where bankers need cinemas in their basements and others need food banks down the street.

It is Jonathan Coe doing what he does best ­ – showing us how we live now.


I recently finished The Dinner by Herman Koch

This was my choice for our book club read who are meeting tonight to discuss, so I’ll catch up with your posts later than usual.  I felt this book had such promise but all in all I think it failed to deliver.  It ended up being more about one of the fathers than the children and what they’d done.  The idea of plotting it around courses was interesting but didn’t really enhance.

the-dinnerThe blurb

A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened… Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified – by everyone except their parents. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.


 What’s up next? Undertow by Elizabeth Heathcote

I was given an ARC of this book when I went to the Headline Rooftop Book Club in April.  My daughter has read it and given me her thoughts so I’ll read it so that it’s another physical book read from the shelf.

undertowThe blurb

My husband’s lover. They said her death was a tragic accident. And I believed them . . . until now.

Carmen is happily married to Tom, a successful London lawyer and divorcé with three children. She is content to absorb the stresses of being a stepmother to teenagers and the stain of ‘second wife’. She knows she’ll always live in the shadow of another woman – not Tom’s first wife Laura, who is resolutely polite and determinedly respectable, but the lover that ended his first marriage: Zena. Zena who was shockingly beautiful. Zena who drowned swimming late one night.

But Carmen can overlook her husband’s dead mistress . . . until she starts to suspect that he might have been the person who killed her.


Have you read any of this week’s choices?

Do share what you’re reading and recommendations in the comments…


Share your bookish posts and news with #TalkoftheTown

Talk of the Town

WWW Wednesday (October 5th)

Hi all, this is my first WWW in a while (again!) looking forward to catching up with you, your blogs and books later 🙂

WWW WednesdayThis weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

To join in, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

I’m reading The Dinner by Herman Koch

This is my book club choice for this month and was recommended to me by my brother.  I’m hoping it pulls me out my book club reading slump as the last three have not been such great reads for me.

the-dinnerThe blurb

A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened… Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified – by everyone except their parents. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.


I recently finished The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

I was really enjoying this book until a significant event happened which I didn’t like or approve of which really changed how I felt about what I was reading.  I rated the book 4* because it is a really good twisty thriller but I didn’t like any of the characters, have any empathy for them so really didn’t mind who ended up dead!

the-kind-worth-killing

The blurb

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. But their game turns dark when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.”

From there, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they plot Miranda’s demise, but soon these co-conspirators are embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse–one they both cannot survive–with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

I’ve also read Recipe for Life – The Autobiography by Mary Berry

If you’re a fan of the Great British Bake Off, Mary Berry or home cooking and baking in general then you’d probably enjoy this, as did I.  Interspersed with some of Mary’s recipes, we discover how Mary came to fame and be the well-loved household name she is now.  A heart-warming book with some very sad moments. Review here.

Recipe for LifeThe blurb

From the moment she came into the world – two weeks early, throwing her parents’ lives into disarray – Mary has gracefully but firmly done things her own way.

Born in 1935, in the city of Bath, Mary’s childhood was a curious mix of idyllic picnics and ramblings, and alarming air raids; of a spirited and outdoorsy home life and a dreaded school existence. All nearly cut horribly short by an almost fatal bout of polio when she was thirteen, which isolated Mary in hospital, away from beloved family and friends for months.

Recovery saw her turn to her one true passion – cookery. And so began a love affair that has – so far – spanned six remarkable decades; from demonstrating ovens in the early 1950s to producing glossy food magazines in the 60s and 70s, gradually becoming the country’s most prolific and – many would say – best loved cookery writer. Until her emergence in the 21st century as a TV sensation and style icon on the Great British Bake Off.

As a working mother, at the heart of a busy household, Mary became an expert at the art of juggling, even bringing her working life into her home with her Aga school. And there have been challenges, one terrible tragedy and many joys along the way.

I’ve also finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This was my fourth Picoult novel and is contention for the best one.  She always manages to pick subjects that will provoke a reader’s emotions and this is no exeception, it’s brilliant.  Incredibly raw, nothing held back and extremely on point topically.  A sure fire winner!

small-great-thingsThe blurb

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family especially her teenage son as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other s trust, and come to see that what they ve been taught their whole lives about others and themselves might be wrong.

I DNF All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage unfortunately; I’d read about 70 pages or so and it wasn’t holding my interest in any way, I was bored and had no motivation to read it.  I had a look at some other reviews on Goodreads to test whether it would be worth continuing and from what I read I decided to DNF.  You can see the blurb etc on my last WWW if you’re so inclined 😉


 What’s up next?

Number 11 by Jonathan Coe

I must admit I bought this book for the cover, I had no idea what it was about until I was prepping this blog post.  Now I know, I’m not entirely sure it’s my kind of read but I’ll give it a go.

number-11The blurb

This is a novel about the hundreds of tiny connections between the public and private worlds and how they affect us all.

It’s about the legacy of war and the end of innocence.

It’s about how comedy and politics are battling it out and comedy might have won.

It’s about how 140 characters can make fools of us all.

It’s about living in a city where bankers need cinemas in their basements and others need food banks down the street.

It is Jonathan Coe doing what he does best ­ – showing us how we live now.


Have you read any of this week’s choices?

Do share what you’re reading and recommendations in the comments…