September 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm #564giorgiaMember
I’ve read these two books of yours during the summer and I can definitely say I’m in love with them.
I’ve finished "The Closed Circle" since a couple of days and I cried at the end, closing the book. I’m already missing Benjamin and Claire and Doug and Philip and everybody from Northfield.
So I would really like to thank YOU for all the emotions you gave me through your books.
And I also thank my friend, who suggested me to read them 🙂
With love 🙂
GiorgiaSeptember 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm #758jonathanKeymaster
That’s a wonderful response, thank you Georgia. I often get the feeling that The Closed Circle doesn’t strike the same chords with people that The Rotters’ Club does, so it’s great to hear from somebody who feels so warmly about both books.September 29, 2010 at 7:43 am #767gert-vanMember
I would rather say that the events in The Closed Circle are more tragic than those in The Rotters’ Club, both of them being excellent books of course.
In The Rotters’ Club there’s an obvious sense of youthfulness all throughout the book (and a great sense of … hope? I suppose), while The Closed Circle contains more the idea and the feeling that everything that most characters have aspired to in the first novel, sort has failed. The ending is a happy one, for nearly all of the characters, but still there is an ambiguous sense that things might have worked out much better. But that’s life…
Also, in TRC, there’s a simultaneous sense that 1. Benjamin and Cicely will lead a very happy life together that 2. the unions will continue to be powerful throughout the eighties. Both of them are already downplayed by Sam Chase’s naive and utterly funny speech in The Grapevine at the end of the TRC. In TCC, we learn that things couldn’t have gone worse for Benjamin (seeing him sink to rock bottom was a very "painful" thing to read, you’ve written that part very well), and that, likewise, well, I’m not a specialist of the UK, although it’s novels like yours that inform me best of the condition of your country, but could things have worked out worse than a Labour party that moves to what in Belgium would be the far right? As a sequel to Thatcherism? And then there’s that brilliant passage when Philip, during his research about the CD Steve had received, reflects on the politics of nowadays, which seem to have formed a closed circle instead of a continuum from far left to far right.
In any case, according to my experience with the novels, there’s a big sense of disappointment in TCC, a sense of doom, if I may put it this strongly. The yellow balloon has disappeared and is beyond grasp now. I’m not sure if you like that term, but there’s a postmodernism symbol if ever I saw one.
By the way, I saw the BBC series of The Rotters’ Club in the record shop. Something you could consider us? I only saw the parts about Sugar Fairy Plumb on YouTube, and I must say it’s not really my type of British humour, which I’m a very big fan of. But probably there’s much more to the series than that, although it would be impossible to capture all of the complexity of your novels.
Again, big message, but once I start writing…September 30, 2010 at 10:02 pm #771gert-vanMember
I’ve re-read some parts of my thesis about Cicely Boyd and I’ve got some minor questions. I’m not sure if this would be a logical hint for a native speaker, but the fact that Malvina’s mother is in Sardinia already hints at her being Cicely (Sicily), right? Was this consciously done?
There’s also a very interesting parallel between Cicely’s introduction as some sort of intruder, both in TRC as in TCC. In TRC she appears as a heart-stoppingly beautiful goddess to Benjamin, and in TCC, Munir witnesses an old and not very appealing Cicely breaking into his flat. The similarities are striking, and so are the contrasts, which are like day and night.
Then, there’s another interesting intertextual reference to Voltaire’s "Candide", at least that’s what I’m convinced of. In the end, Benjamin has found Cicely again, and they’re together again, but she’s not that sweet and pretty girl anymore. Because of multiple sclerosis, she has become not only quite unattractive, but also very bitchy, "ordering [Benjamin] around like a fucking dog". This is exactly the same thing that happens to Candide, who, in the end, gets what he has always yearned for during his long travels: his dear Cunegonde (if I’m not mistaken), but an uglier and bitchier version of the one he used to know. I can’t help seeing this parallel, but my question is: Did you intend this, or am I suffering from "creative paranoia" and seeing intertextual ghosts? 🙂 Thanks.
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