The hilarious s political satire by Jonathan Coe, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Newspaper-columnist Hilary gets thousands for telling it like it isn't; Henry's turning hospitals into car parks; Roddy's selling art in return for sex; down on the farm Dorothy's squeezing every last pound from her livestock; Thomas is making a killing on the stock exchange; and Mark is selling arms to dictators. But once their hapless biographer Michael Owen starts investigating the family's trail of greed, corruption and immoral doings, the time growing ripe for the Winshaws to receive their comeuppance. This wickedly funny take on life under the Thatcher government was the winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Jonathan Coe is the author of thirteen novels, all published by Penguin, which include the highly acclaimed bestsellers What a Carve Up!
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — What a Carve Up! What a Carve Up! If Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie had ever managed to collaborate, they might have produced this shamelessly entertaining novel, which introduces readers to what may be the most powerful family in England--and is certainly the vilest.
A tour de force of menace, malicious comedy, and torrential social bile, this book marks the American debut of an extraordinary writer.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. The Winshaw Legacy 1. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about What a Carve Up!
It's social and political satire, the various members of the Winshaw tribe represent all th …more I presume this is an alternative title for What a Carve Up? It's social and political satire, the various members of the Winshaw tribe represent all that is bad about Britain in the 80's in the fields of politics, industry, arts and media; they are a shallow, greedy, heartless bunch, rotten to the core with few exceptions and they have profound and shocking effects on the other characters in the book.
The book is also a comical Carry On gothic hammer horror mystery and finally, in some ways a touching life story of Michael Owen the narrator of, the writer of the Winshaw History, who is not very good at relationships.
But that doesn't really matter because it is very entertaining. Time for Coe to write another history of the modern selfie-obsessed internet age less. See 2 questions about What a Carve Up! Lists with This Book. Community Reviews.
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One of the true joys in life, in my opinion, is the right to differ. Few things can be compared to the feeling you get when you read a book or see a movie which everyone has been raving about and realize that it's utter crap. I really wanted that to be the case with What A Carve Up , although, having read Coe in the past, I knew there wasn't much chance for that.
It's one of those books that I feel there's not much point talking about. No matter what I say about it, you cannot grasp the true br One of the true joys in life, in my opinion, is the right to differ. No matter what I say about it, you cannot grasp the true brilliance of Coe's masterpiece until you've read it. No words can do it justice. Political comedy, an accusing point with the finger to the powers that be or a mystery novel?
Coe proves that sometimes there's absolutely no point in categorizing what's beyond categorization. View all 8 comments. First of all, this is a book about the infamous Winshaw family who is greedy and completely irritational and unbelievable. Second of all, this is the story of the writer Michael who is hired to write a biography of the infamous Winshaw family.
This novel comes with some very memorable scenes that were perfectly described and that have carved themselves into my memory pun intended :. It was a fascinating read, but it was also a book that taught me to be patient and stick to the story through the rather long and dragging descriptions of the greedy family members - not all of them were that interesting to read about, but once you reached the end of their story it all made PERFECTLY sense. What a book! What a carve up! I have no idea why this book got stuck in my head years ago as something I had to read but it did and when I saw it on a shelf recently I thought why not give it a crack at long last now?
Coe personifies these critiques - poor healthcare, I have no idea why this book got stuck in my head years ago as something I had to read but it did and when I saw it on a shelf recently I thought why not give it a crack at long last now?
Coe personifies these critiques - poor healthcare, banking deregulation, war profiteering, and a cheapening of the culture - in the form of the fictional mega-wealthy Winshaw family, whose lives are chronicled here. Phewf - what a labyrinthine concept! And the first thing to say about it is that Jonathan Coe deserves a lot of credit for juggling this many balls without dropping one - it really is an admirably detailed and masterfully told story.
And then the second thing to say is that, after all that, the effect is underwhelming. I could see it in the banker Thomas, the politician Henry and the weapons dealer Mark, because banking, politics and war were the most prominent features of that time, but Roddy the art dealer and Hillary the newspaper columnist?
Eh, their contributions to giving the public sub-standard art was a weak point. I understand that in most fiction you have to allow for a degree of disbelief suspension, but there were just too many contrivances for my liking. Random lodgers in some distant town playing a major role years down the line, that forced four-month romance between Michael and Fiona shoe-horned in for a strained sentimental moment to underline the problems of the NHS, a chance encounter with someone connecting decades back to WW2 and the Winshaw family and Michael Owen - I mean, really?
And what was the point of constantly drawing parallels to the Sid James movie - why did the book have to turn into a pastiche of that film? There are also a lot of slow, boring parts to the book. I really enjoyed all of the scenes set in the macabre Winshaw Towers, as well as all the parts featuring the wretched clan squabbling amongst themselves - more than a few Winshaws come off as amusing Roald Dahl grotesques.
The wonderfully named and overly-sexed elderly gay detective Findlay Onyx was a fun and quirky addition. Being a fan of Agatha Christie, and especially her best novel And Then There Were None, I really loved the finale as it turned into a country house murder mystery.
Also a plus is the ever-shifting narrative from first person What a Carve Up! Also a plus is the ever-shifting narrative from first person -- to manuscript -- to newspaper article -- to third person, etc. Love it. Coe draws a network of parallels between his narrative and the film, What a Carve Up! But the connection to the film runs deeper. The characters and situations Coe draws are, at times, as outlandish as those in the film.
A beastly, upper crust family; the imposing, dark mansion; an attractive, sincere nurse; a grave family solicitor; a nutty spinster; tensions between social class; unrequited love; the reading of the will with ensuing murders; and certainly, sexual repression — all these elements from the film are in this novel. Likewise, they provide lots of information on who these people really are. Stylistically they copy Tenniel, and I believe that this is intentional because they effectively convey a type of demented whimsy that's found in, Alice Through the Looking Glass.
I hope these sketches are in all editions. Got it. Much of the sexuality in the book is insulated, dreamlike, and voyeuristic. I wonder. How much does this matter to me? I dunno. I startled the cat on several occasions with my guffaws. Now, I will never see a Maraschino cherry as just a Maraschino cherry.
I am very happy to have read this book. The centerpiece of the book could be The Winshaws, the awful aristocratic family or Michael Owen, the person who has been commissioned to write biography about the Winshaws but in reality, I would say that the film W reread review: One little fear I have when I reread a favourite book is if I dislike it. The centerpiece of the book could be The Winshaws, the awful aristocratic family or Michael Owen, the person who has been commissioned to write biography about the Winshaws but in reality, I would say that the film What a Carve up!
The film itself is a British horror comedy which Michael Own watches as a birthday treat. Unfortunately his mother deems the film unsuitable and pulls Michael out of the cinema midway and all the way through adulthood he incorporates his life within the film.
Not only that but Michael has other vivid memories about his childhood; the farm he grew up on, the walks in the park, the death of his father and his first forays into writing.
All are linked to the Winshaws. The Winshaws are an example of upper class people at their worst. Each of the siblings or parents have controlled a certain aspect of society; for example, Hilary, the youngest Winshaw works as a gossip columnist and damages reputations, Roddy, her brother works as an Art Dealer and screws people in every way possible.
Mark, their cousin is an arms dealer, Dorothy, their aunt works in animal husbandry and so on. All Winshaws will stop at nothing to achieve their aims, even if it means killing the people closest to them.
What A Carve Up!
M ichael Owen, the protagonist and occasional narrator of What a Carve Up! He is also lonely and sex-starved, prone to fantasise about attractive women he sees on public transport. Spotting a "Grace Kelly-style icy blonde" on the tube, he lapses into his "favourite fantasy", in which, "miraculously", it turns out that she is "getting out at the same stop, continuing on to the same station, catching the same train, travelling to the same town — a series of coincidences which would bring us together while usefully absolving me from the need to take events into my own hands". For a character in a novel, coincidences mean that he has a destiny. And Michael is indeed part of a plot. His discoveries echo the plot twists of some classic English novels.
What a Carve Up!
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MIDWAY through Jonathan Coe's new novel a character holds forth on the obsolescence of fiction and the ascendancy of film, reserving his particular scorn for the English novel because it has 'no tradition of political engagement. I mean, it's all just a lot of pissing about within the limits set down by bourgeois morality, as far as I can see. State-of-the-nation novels during the Eighties became pretty much a laughing stock, a tired rehearsal of contemporary ills that failed to strike even the dimmest sparks off the old Thatcherite rock: the unreadable in pursuit of the unshakeable. It would be absurd to expect Jonathan Coe to change the face of political fiction at a blow, but he has at least knocked its nose out of joint. Whatever else they were, one couldn't claim that the Eighties lacked colour, or drama, or interest, albeit of a fairly grotesque kind - yet there didn't seem to be any school of fiction which could properly encompass its stupendous barbarities.
What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe
What a Carve Up! The novel concerns the political and social environment in Britain during the s, and covers the period up to the beginning of aerial bombardment against Iraq in the first Gulf War in January It is a critique of British politics under the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher and, briefly, John Major and of the ways in which national policy was seen to be dictated by the concerns of narrow, but powerful, interest groups with influence in banking, the media, agriculture, healthcare, the arms trade and the arts. Coe creates the fictitious Winshaw family to embody these different interests under one name and, ultimately, one roof.