The "Rotters' Club"
The "Rotters' Club"
Penguin Books Ltd, Paperback, 02 December, 2004
Author: Jonathan Coe
ISBN: 0141020490
List Price: £7.99
Used Price: £0.01
Third Party Price: £4.20
Availability: Limited availability
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Customer Reviews

Not what I was expecting
You know how you pick up a book with expectation for the type of read it's going to be...well this one was very much a tony parsons/nick hornby oh-so-familiar stroll down memory lane for 40-somethings like me with a few laughs at our own expense and taste in music/food/clothes etc with just a little love interest thrown in.

But it wasn't like that at was darker, deeper, the comedy stifled and no mention of slade...quite what it was - other a nasty poke in the thick hide of horrendously dull, self obsessed adolscents - I have no idea. Perhaps this book sums up being young in the 1970s all too well...but prefer my air-brushed memories.

Unlike the last reviewer, I was brought up in Birmingham, around the very areas that are described in the book, the Longbridge plant etc. Little bit too young to remember the Birmingham Pub Bombings but from the stories I have been told while growing up, the feelings described are extremely accurate, and have their residual effect on the community even now.
I flicked throught this book at the airport, saw familiar place names, and bought it for my holiday read. How glad I was. I love Jonathan Coe's writing style, and have managed to get through most of his books. This one is my favourite, although if you like this one, try the House of Sleep.
Its a story of a rite of passage, its evocative will strike a cord with most readers, no matter what your age or where you come from - but if you come from anywhere near the Longbridge Plant you HAVE to read this book!

Evocative but occasionally a bit too clever
The evocation of the 1970s in this book is very good. I have never lived in Birmingham, but it is very accurate as far as I know and can remember. In general, the balance between humour and grimness is good too. There is a large cast of characters, but this is well handled and the way the author moves between parents and adolescents is good. Perhaps the book would have been even stronger if the grandparents had been brought in too, as this might have helped to explain the conservative reaction which took place in the 1980s, but I didn't feel this when reading the book.

One feature that I'm not happy about is the treatment of the Birmingham pub bombing. This is a sensitive subject, because I know someone who was injured by the blast. However, the author seems to have felt that artifice would alleviate the horror of the subject matter, which to my mind it doesn't.

Overall, this is a good book with an underlying seriousness enlivened by humour.

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