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The Closed Circle - Jonathan Coe

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1 Review

Paperback: 448 pages / Publisher: Penguin / Published: 19 May 2008

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      06.05.2013 19:31
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      Not recommended by me

      I was delighted to discover there was a sequel to "The Rotters' Club" - a book I read more than 10 years ago. The Closed Circle (2004) follows on from the school boys' exploits to cover their lives thirty or so years later. I had enjoyed reading The Rotters' Club so couldn't wait to get started on The Closed Circle.

      Cover
      My book is different to the one pictured, with an embroidered title and logo which immediately drew me in as I'm not averse to a bit of stitching myself.

      A bit about
      The book follows Benjamin Trotter, his brother Paul, sister Lois and their friends Philip, Doug, Claire and their children now. Whilst none of the gang are particularly connected, their lives seem intertwined as they meet in London, Birmingham and even in Europe. A few questions started in the first book are answered in the second one with a huge political underpinning which is partly led by Paul (who is now an MP) and Doug who is now a journalist. The men seem unable to move on from their first loves and crushes at school despite a few marriages (and divorces). Their past keeps coming back to haunt them with a few revelations that will surprise the reader.

      My thoughts
      I found this book really hard to get in to and really didn't find it all that interesting until the last hundred pages. It attempted to be modern with a few texts and emails thrown in to the text but the politics were a large part of the story line which just didn't swing it for me. I found the rise of Paul as an MP from ridiculous to suddenly highly respected quite a farce and not believable at all. Benjamin's character came over as quite wishy washy and secondary to the story line despite him being a main character in the first book. I found him most disappointing and wanted him to be better in the book. His failure as an author also made me wonder where the author was going with him as he continued to achieve very little over the years.

      Funny
      I mentioned a few revelations in the book... it's funny because in the first book, Benjamin forgets his swimming trunks for school and is terrified that he will be made to swim in the nude. He believes it's an act of God when he finds a spare pair in the locker room and has faith ever after until he finds out the true story in the second book, which makes him question his faith and religious belief. This story is very rambling to get to the point and a bit of a strange and unlikely connection but I suppose it links the two books together in an unexpected way.


      Final word
      I really don't feel that I can recommend this book, even if you enjoyed The Rotters' Club. Perhaps the gap between me reading both books was too long, although there is a synopsis of the first book at the back of the second book that I refreshed my memory with. I still found a few characters coming up that made me think "Who?" and the book was not particularly helpful in placing the different people as they cropped up. A good second book should be possible to read without even reading the first I think, it should have merit in its own right as a story in itself and I don't think this achieved that.

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