--Erica Wagner, The Times (London)
Following The Winshaw Legacy--Coe's ecstatically reviewed American debut, winner of the John Lewellyn Rhys Prize in England and France's coveted Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger--comes this beguiling, eccentric entertainment.
Ashdown--a vast clifftop manor on the English coast--was once a university residence, where a group of students met briefly before going their separate ways. Twelve years later, it has been transformed into a clinic for sleep disorders, and a series of strange coincidences and ostensible synchronicities draws the same group of people together once again, each of them in different ways plagued by sleep.
Sarah is narcoleptic, and her inability to distinguish between dreams and waking reality gives rise to a great many misunderstandings--one of which is to change Robert's life forever, as he persists for years (and then some) in his attempt to win her love. For Terry, a disillusioned film critic whose career has been derailed by Sarah's affliction, sleep is merely a memory, for his insomnia is complete and he can only yearn for the tantalizing dreams he enjoyed in youth. And for the increasingly deranged Dr. Dudden, who has made the subject the focus of his medical practice, sleep is nothing less than a global disease.
With panache worthy of Nabokov, and with the heart to match his sophistication, Jonathan Coe has written a breathtakingly original comedy about the powers we acquire--and those we relinquish--when we fall asleep, or fall in love.
"This is a remarkable book, most impressive for its subtle narrative patterning, like a dapple of light and shade, allowing us to indulge the illusion of understanding its characters, until, all at once, the darkness, the isolation and the mystery return. Perhaps most strange of all, for a novel about insomniacs, The House of Sleep is a wonderful bedtime read."
--David Nokes, Sunday Times
In an attempt to stir himself out of this horrible rut, Max quits his job as a customer liaison at the local department store and accepts a strange business proposition that falls in his lap by chance: he’s hired to drive a Prius full of toothbrushes to the remote Shetland Islands, part of a misguided promotional campaign for a dental-hygiene company intent on illustrating the slogan “We Reach Furthest.”
But Max’s trip doesn’t go as planned, as he’s unable to resist making a series of impromptu visits to important figures from his past who live en route. After a string of cruelly enlightening and intensely awkward misadventures, he finds himself falling in love with the soothing voice of his GPS system (“Emma”) and obsessively identifying with a sailor who perpetrated a notorious hoax and subsequently lost his mind. Eventually Max begins to wonder if perhaps it’s a severe lack of self-knowledge that’s hampering his ability to form actual relationships.
A humane satire and modern-day picaresque, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim is a gently comic and rollickingly entertaining novel about the paradoxical difficulties of making genuine attachments in a world of advanced communications technology and rampant social networking.
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Sixty years later, just before her death, Rosamond records her memories on cassettes, addressing them to a distant cousin—a near stranger-named Imogen. As Gill, her beloved niece, listens to these tapes, a heart—stopping family saga is revealed. In this masterful portrait of three generations of woman, Jonathan Coe exposes the profound reserves of hope and loss within the lives of ordinary woman.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The novel opens in the early aughts: two ten-year-olds, Alison and Rachel, have a frightening encounter with the "Mad Bird Woman" who lives down the road. As the narrative progresses through time, the novel envelops others who are connected to the girls: Alison's mother, a has-been singer, competing on a hit reality TV show; Rachel's university mentor confronting her late husband's disastrously obsessive search for a German film he saw as a child; a young police constable investigating the seemingly accidental and unrelated deaths of two stand-up comedians; the ludicrously wealthy family who hire Rachel as a nanny--under whose immense London mansion Rachel will discover a dark and terrifying secret. Psychological insight, social commentary, vicious satire, and even surrealist horror are combined in this highly accomplished work to hold up a revealing, disquieting mirror to the world we live in today.
-- Jay McInerney
A postmodern detective story, a scathing send-up of the rapacious eighties, a macabre Gothic -- all rolled up in a bravura tragicomic entertainment.
The Winshaw family, as their official biographer is warned by old Mortimer Winshaw himself, is the meanest, greediest, cruellest bunch of backstabbing penny-pinching bastards who ever crawled across the face of the earth.' Bankers, industrialists, politicians, arms dealers and media barons -- they rule Britannia, more or less. They also have a guilty secret in the shape of a mad aunt stashed away in a remote asylum, convinced of familial treachery during World War II and determined to effect the ruin of her entire clan.
In the summer of 1990, while Saddam Hussein is provoking yet another war, the Winshaws' biographer (a severely depressed young novelist) is piecing together the truth of their sordid legacy, and discovers that it converges bizarrely with the plot of a film he's been obsessed by since childhood. Moreover, it seems that all of this, dynasty and cinema alike, has some mysterious connection with his own troubled history. Of course whether he -- or anybody else -- will be alive when this compound riddle is solved remains to be seen.
Savagely funny, hugely inventive and passionately political. The Winshaw Legacy assumes Dickensian proportions as it excoriates the modern age of greed -- and heralds the American debut of an extraordinary writer. As The Economist concluded: Talented comic novelists are rare [but] that exclusive club -- Thomas Love Peacock, Evelyn Waugh and P. G. Wodehouse are among its members -- has admitted a newcomer, an Englishman called Jonathan Coe.'
'A remarkable achievement; intelligent, funny, and important.' -- The Times Literary Supplement
'An extravagant literary blockbuster...A grand and intelligent novel, so full of accomplishment and pleasure.' -- New Statesman & Society'
Really, something to get excited about...his big, hilarious, intricate, furious, moving treat of a novel.' -- The Guardian
When a family celebrates the prize-giving day at their daughter's secondary school, thoughts turn to their own childhoods. The father remembers his living room piano recital, recorded on a well-worn cassette tape. The mother remembers her own father's war tragedy. As the father searches for the physical reminder of his past and the mother longs to forget her own, they confront the breakdown of their marriage in the present.
In Pentatonic, Jonathan Coe movingly explores the memories that unite us and the experiences that drive us apart. The story is simultaneously available as a digital download with the piece of music which originally inspired the story.
Praise for Jonathan Coe:
'Probably the best English novelist of his generation' Nick Hornby
'Coe has huge powers of observation and enormous literary panache' Sunday Times
'Jonathan Coe's a fine writer who seems to try something new with every book' David Nicholls
Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham in 1961. He is the author of eight bestselling novels including What a Carve Up! and The Rotters' Club, and a biography of the novelist B. S. Johnson, Like a Fiery Elephant, which won the 2005 Samuel Johnson Prize for best non-fiction book of the year.