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★★★★★

“The Closed Circle ”

Written on: 18/05/2005 by Harriet Klausner (18637 reviews written)

The Closed Circle

Jonathan Coe

Knopf, May 2005, $25.00

ISBN: 0375414150



In Birmingham on the brink of the new millennium, senior accountant and wannabe author Benjamin Trotter has never forgotten the one that got away, Cicely Boyd, though two decades have passed. His frustrated wife Emily knows she still compares unfavorably to his teen love. However, he has a new secret interest, Malvina, who works as media guru for his parliament member younger brother Paul, who shares an attraction.



Other friends from their 1970s ROTTERS' CLUB also have come complete circle. Claire Newman has returned from years in Italy. Her ex-husband Philip Chase has become a journalist; so has Doug Anderton. All have moved on in Blair's new world order yet never quite matched their dreams.



As he did with the ROTTERS' CLUB, Jonathan Coe takes a swift acerbic bite out of this time Blair's English society excesses, which have gone full circle from the welfare state to let the eat cake as long as someone else pays the tab. The storyline is satire at its most cutting, which means the key cast members though heading into middle age remain caricatures representing a stereotype. No protagonist including the ROTTERS' CLUB alumni are fully developed in spite of having troubles, which adds to the feel that society is changing, but its members are bushed from the changes. Not for everyone, THE CLOSED CIRCLE is a Monty Python look at Blair's England through a post Iraq 9/11 altering lens.



Harriet Klausner

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