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England, England by Julian Barnes

England, England (1998)

by Julian Barnes

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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I just could not get into this one. I found myself skimming, and would make myself go back and re-read (re-skim) parts. ( )
  keafrost | Jul 15, 2015 |
The sarcastic and humorous development of characters and England were great. Much of today's world closely mimics this with its idolizing of the clean fake image of history and nation rather than their reality. The main character's story, while sometimes thought provoking, seemed a little disconnected. The humor makes it worthwhile. ( )
  snash | Jul 3, 2015 |
Not quite sure what to make of this. It was wickedly barbed in places; horrifyingly funny in places (reminded me of Carl Hiaasen) ; wincingly satiric in others. It's one of those books I suspect I am not sophisticated enough to embrace. I loved the whole premise of an "alternate England" theme park which becomes more popular than the real-life one. And lord, Barnes has a marvelous talent for words! But I found the last third of the novel weirdly dull compared to the first two sections. It's basically a laundry list of the events that happened to the island over the next 10 years. The story of the two lovers is strangely incomplete. And I wasn't really sure if I was meant to think England was actually delivered...or damned...by its return to a more bucolic existence.

It would be lovely to be delivered from Donald Trump by an American Martha... ( )
  Turrean | Feb 15, 2014 |
Sir Jack, not just a captain of industry but an admiral of industry, wants to hit a grand slam.
With the help of a cocaine sniffing consultant, he gets the idea to reshape England as a miniature touristic attraction with as motto 'replicas are better than the original'.
After quite some brainstorming sessions, their eyes fall on the Island of Wright.
They copy the original and makes it tourist friendly; everything is there; Big Ben, Westminster, teahouses, shepherds, Robin Hood, London cabs, double-deckers and even the royal family.
It is a success.
According to Sir Jacks genial plan the island of Wright proclaims independence as "England, England"!
It becomes an Eden, without government, without criminality, only driven by economics.
Martha the assistant of Sir Jack, eliminates Sir Jack with a fancy blackmail.
But there are side effects. The characters are as time passes identifying themselves more and more with the originals.
Smugglers smuggles, Robin Hoods wants to throw the 'obliged' homosexuals and disabled from the band, as they reduce his fighting power.
After an unsuccessful commando action to disband the band of Robin Hood, Martha is kicked out and returns to the original England, that has retrograded on his own and is now called Anglia.

Original narration
sophisticated humor
unique view on business and consultants!
Typical Barnes

Unique work about the recreation of England as attraction park. To have. ( )
  albertkep | Feb 2, 2014 |
(Putting up a couple of little bits about books I haven't finished, whilst I can still remember.)

The satirical stuff about Jack Pitman and the England England theme park is great: a tale no doubt inspired by the days of carefree Cool Britannia bombast and brand New Labourite spin doctoring. Written during, published a little too late (98). Barnes' Earthling ?... though he was never exactly cool to start with.

So far I can quite do without Martha - although it looks like the plot can't. She's one of those characters who's more of a collection of experiences and conversations than someone who feels like a person. Though I sort of like her because she also loved the English Counties jigsaw puzzles, albeit with a whole different set of thoughts about them from those I had when I was a kid.

Started 13 August 2013.
  antonomasia | Aug 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Barnes uses his copious talents as a writer -- his lapidary prose, his eye for the askew detail, his ear for the circumlocutions of contemporary speech -- to turn the saga of England, England into an uproarious farce that mocks both our postmodernist suspicion of the authentic and our Disney-like willingness to turn that embrace of the ersatz into a money-making machine. He examines the arbitrary nature of history writing and the cyclical nature of history, and he satirizes the ideas that the English hold about themselves.
A mischievous satire on the marketing of illusion and a trenchant analysis of a rootless woman’s interrupted pursuit of authenticity are joined in a highly original way in this consummately entertaining novel, the eighth by the dependably clever British author.
added by Nickelini | editKirkus Reviews (May 10, 1999)

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Julian Barnesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gower, NeilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Imagine an England where all the pubs are quaint, where the Windsors behave themselves (mostly), where the cliffs of Dover are actually white, and where Robin Hood and his merry men really are merry. This is precisely what visionary tycoon Sir Jack Pitman seeks to accomplish on the Isle of Wight, a "destination" where tourists can find replicas of Big Ben (half size), Princess Di's grave, and even Harrod's (conveniently located inside the tower of London).
Martha Cochrane, hired as one of Sir Jack's resident "no-people," ably assist him in realizing his dream. But when this land of make-believe gradually gets horribly and hilariously out of hand, Martha develops her own vision of the perfect England. Julian Barnes delights us with a novel that is at once a philosophical inquiry, a burst of mischief, and a moving elegy about authenticity and nationality.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375705503, Paperback)

Imagine being able to visit England--all of England--in a single weekend. Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Stonehenge and Hadrian's Wall, Harrods, Manchester United Football Club, the Tower of London, and even the Royal Family all within easy distance of the each other, accessible, and, best of all, each one living up to an idealized version of itself. This fantasy Britain is the very real (and some would say very cynical) vision of Sir Jack Pitman, a monumentally egomaniacal mogul with a more than passing resemblance to modern-day buccaneers Sir Rupert Murdoch or Robert Maxwell: "'We are not talking theme park,' he began. 'We are not talking heritage centre. We are not talking Disneyland, World's Fair, Festival of Britain, Legoland or Parc Asterix.'" No indeed; Sir Jack proposes nothing less than to offer "the thing itself," a re-creation of everything that adds up to England in the hearts and minds of tourists looking for an "authentic" experience. But where to locate such an enterprise? As Sir Jack points out,
England, as the mighty William and many others have observed, is an island. Therefore, if we are serious, if we are seeking to offer the thing itself, we in turn must go in search of a precious whatsit set in a silver doodah.
Soon the perfect whatsit is found: the Isle of Wight; and a small army of Sir Jack's forces are sent to lay siege to it. Swept up in the mayhem are Martha Cochrane, a thirtysomething consultant teetering on the verge of embittered middle age, and Paul Harrison, a younger man looking for an anchor in the world. The two first find each other, then trip over a skeleton in Sir Jack's closet that might prove useful to their careers but disastrous to their relationship. In the course of constructing this mad package-tour dystopia, Julian Barnes has a terrific time skewering postmodernism, the British, the press, the government, celebrity, and big business. At the same time his very funny novel offers a provocative meditation on the nature of identity, both individual and national, as the lines between the replica and the thing itself begin to blur. Readers of Barnes have learned to expect the unexpected, and once again he more than lives up to the promise in England, England. But then, that was only to be expected. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:26 -0400)

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When tycoon Sir Jack Pitman tries to build a theme park representing historic England, matters go awry.

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