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The Closed Circle by Jonathan Coe

The Closed Circle (2004)

by Jonathan Coe

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Now, first of all I think we should separate the first 3/4 of the story from the last quarter, because they were very different since it’s in the last quarter that the circle closes, and it makes you see everything that has happened before in a new light.

There was this heavy, even kind of gloomy atmosphere all throughout the first 3/4 of the story, and actually the only ray of sunshine in the pale lives entwined in the plot was Sophie, who represented everything that Benjamin, Lois and the others once were. Young, curious, bright and with everything still ahead of them... but that was because the circle was still open, and I think that’s why from the beginning I kept thinking “there’s much more to this story than what I’m reading”.

I found Paul and Sean Harding intriguing in The Rotters’ Club: I hated them in The Closed Circle. Or, more precisely, I hated Paul in the first 3/4 of the story, and there was a moment in the second half where I really despised him and I couldn’t believe he was the same boy described in The Rotter’s Club, even if to be honest there were hints that he would become a person of the sort, but I always found him interesting nonetheless, and let’s say he got better in the last quarter of the story, at least more decent in some ways, not so much in others.

Benjamin made me smile in The Rotters’ Club: he completely broke my heart in The Closed Circle. Even if once again the last quarter was a different story. But the fact that at the end we only hear of how his story continues/ends from other sources kind of disappointed me, because I wanted to read more of him directly.

For some reason I feel like the climax was in the few lines that showed Benjamin decorating the Christmas tree with Susan and the girls, I think this is the one scene that sums up all the intense, sometimes desperate feelings involved up to that point.

The atmosphere of the story was very different from the one in “The Rotters’ club”, so I feel it’s not right to compare the two of them. The only thing I know is that I adored them both. The way the story was told was always perfect, and really captivating, and maybe it got even more refined in The Closed Circle.

I think the bottom line of this story is “the past always repeat itself. The past never lets go of you, but at the same time you’ve got to move on”, and that’s why at times this book was heart-wrenching.

Also, I know I probably said this before when talking about one of Coe’s books (or all of them actually) and it’s not very witty but.. wow.
( )
  kairih | Aug 30, 2014 |
I don’t read blurbs, but sometimes its impossible to avoid adjectives when they’re put on the front cover. As a general rule I find that “hilarious” means “not remotely funny”. This book does nothing to change my mind. It is a perfectly good novel of a certain section of English society in the early 2000s, but “hilarious” it certainly is not. Mildly amusing on a couple of occasions, but that’s about it. So it fails in what it purports to be. The publisher (Penguin) are guaranteeing their readers will be disappointed. Strange. ( )
  florasuncle | Aug 27, 2014 |
A smashingly satisfying follow-up to The Rotter's Club. ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
Clever structure, the characters are all comically familiar, and spot-on cultural references. ( )
  LARA335 | Sep 10, 2011 |
  Stef.Gyssels | Aug 3, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Coe bemoans the collapse of any vestige of civic solidarity in the new gilded age as forcefully as the Australian Elliot Perlman or the American Thomas Frank, and deploys Doug Anderton as a lone voice of protest at the euthanasia of Old Labour by New: “The left’s moved way over to the right, the right’s moved a tiny bit to the left, the circle’s been closed and everyone else can go fuck themselves.”
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That would be satisfying, on some level; would have about it something of the symmetry he tended to spend much of his life vainly hunting for: the sense of a circle being closed ... (New York: Alfred A. Knopf 2005, p. 215)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375713956, Paperback)

The characters of The Rotters’ Club–Jonathan Coe’s beloved novel of adolescent life in the 1970s–have bartered their innocence for the vengeance of middle age in this incisive portrait of Cool Britannia at the millennium.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:10 -0400)

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Set against the backdrop of the Millenium celebrations and Britain's increasingly compromised role in America's 'war against terrorism', 'The Closed Circle' lifts the lid on an era in which politics and presentation, ideology and the media have become virtually indistinguishable.… (more)

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