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E is a novel written totally in the form of e-mails. But does this apparent gimmick pay off? Well, I've just finished reading the book and can tell you that it does. I bought the book because I thought that the different approach sounded interesting. I started reading on friday afternoon, and finished saturday evening, and even managed time to go to work! E follows the fortunes of the London based Miller Shanks advertising agency for just over a month, from the start of 2000 to the beginning of February. The main plot of the novel revolves around MillerShanks attempts to win the European Coca-Cola contract, although there are plenty of sub-plots based on other advertising campaigns. The agency itself is quite small and we get introduced to most of the employees through their email interactions with each other. We also get introduced to people outside MillerShanks, although I should really refer to the agency as MillerShanks London, as there are mails from worldwide MillerShanks employees as well as other companies. There are mails from all levels of the agency, from the CEO right down to the new trainee. The book aims to show how communications 'upwards' are different to those 'downwards' i.e. from Art Director to Copy Writer, and it does this very well. Its interesting to see the managers all claim credit for the same idea with varying degrees of success. I think it captures the emails that co-workers send to each other very well. The humour in this book is quite subtle, although occasionally there are times that make you laugh out loud (Not to be recommended on a crowded bus). A particular favourite of mine was a joke that one of the staff mails around the agency, in fact I have to admit that shortly after reading it, I phoned a friend to pass it on...! Due to the short-ish paragraphs used in this book, its a very quick read and flows well. Its impossible to put this book down until you've fi
nished it! I was also impressed with the way that the characters are built up. They are well defined which I think is surprising given the whole basis of the novel. You learn about the different characters without it seeming false or as if detail is put in the mails for the readers benefit, just to advance the characters. So, what did I think of this book? I thought that it was really good. Its very well written in a fresh style (Although this will decrease as other writers copy it!). The characters are well defined and their interactions with each other via email are well observed. The book is funny, although the humour is quite subtle. The story is suprisingly well defined, and the plot is advanced well using emails, without seeming false. The only problem I had with this book is that I finished it so quickly, but that was because I couldn't put it down! Recommended.
This book is about the MillerShanks Ad agency and this first e-mail novel could have been a disaster but instead is a minor comic triumph thanks to Matt Beaumont's E which is about the MillerShanks Ad agency.