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The Crack Magazine


Middle England

Jonathan Coe, Viking

Jonathan Coe eviscerated Thatcherism in his satire ‘What a Carve Up!’ but for his latest novel he’s turned his hand to a rather trickier task: trying to make sense of the political gales that have buffeted England over recent years. The novel begins with the formation of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010, and then takes us through the austerity years right up to 2018 and the current Brexit impasse. Naturally, he hasn’t opted for a dry account, instead giving us a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters including academics, authors, driving instructors, students, politicians and children’s entertainers whose political views range from liberal to “Enoch Powell was right”. We first met some of these characters in the 2001 novel ‘The Rotters’ Club’, which was set in the 1970s (and followed them in its sequel ‘The Closed Circle’), but you don’t need to be familiar with those works in order to enjoy this book in which Coe attempts to unknot the bewildering times we are living in through understanding, compassion and humour.