Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Kate's Reading Challenge 2010: Book Eleven


No.11: 'The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim' by Jonathan Coe (Penguin:Viking, 2010)

Due out at the end of May this year, Jonathan Coe's latest novel is a book to look forward to;

funny and refreshing ' The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim' is very much a novel of our era. We meet Maxwell Sim - a recently-divorced, slightly dippy salesman - in a very reflective mood, as he observes a beautiful Chinese woman and her daughter in a restaurant. And so begins an adventure through Maxwell's past as he ponders his ropey relationships with his family.
At the centre of the story is Maxwell's mission to drive to the most Northern point of the UK (Shetland) to promote an eco-friendly toothbrush design, with only his trusty sat-nav (affectionately named Emma) for company. Along the way Maxwell stops off to reacquaint himself with a number of old faces including the ex-neighbour of his father, the parents and sister of an old friend, his ex-wife and his daughter, in a bid to make a crucial life decision.

Within the story Coe imbeds a series of short stories written by other characters from the book, which shift the narrative perspective and offer a series of subplots. These diversions are so convincingly imbedded within the main story and move along the action of Maxwell's adventure in an effortless fashion. For me though, the most successful aspect of 'The Terrible Privacy' is the painful honesty with which Maxwell himself is portrayed as a man who is gradually becoming more aware of his shortcomings.

I can't wait to hear Jonathan talk about this novel when he speaks at Mr B's on June 15th...

Started: 18th March Finished: 23rd March