What A Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe

My review from Goodreads, there are some spoilers in the form of the general feel of the book and a comment on the ending but nothing that should spoil it for a reader…

 

what-a-carve-up

 

A political novel, inside a family history, inside a who done it, wrapped together by an old black and white comedy, staring Shirley Eaton (yes, that famous Bond girl.)

Once I got into the book I couldn’t put it down. It starts with an introduction to the Winshaw family, a thoroughly despicable bunch, rolling in money and desperate for more. The family history is to me written by a young, successful novelist called Michael Owen, who plods through his own family trauma whilst delivering a few chapters a year to his publisher. Coe uses different points of view throughout the text, extracts from newspaper articles, film scripts and even dreams. What initially took me a little while to get my head around soon becomes a wonderful stream of images that plot this reprehensible family’s rise, alongside the slow destruction of the welfare state, through the 80’s and early 90’s.

The political aspect is well researched, scathing and often funny. The characters are richly drawn and have a real resonance throughout the plot, no matter how briefly we see them. I particularly liked Mr Onyx, the meticulous, homosexual detective, who keeps finding himself caught on the long arm of the law for toiletry indiscretions and how Owen’s dreams appear to be precursors to the action. I really enjoyed this, it was witty, moving, critical and gripping. Well worth the 400 plus pages just for the adrenaline paced, gore fest at the end, Cluedo with buckets of blood. Marvellous.

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