The Winshaw Legacy: or What a Carve Up!

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9780679433859: The Winshaw Legacy: or What a Carve Up!
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'I could recommend The Winshaw Legacy as I a superb political novel, or as a fiendishly clever meta-novel, or as a unique modern historical novel, or as a riveting family saga, but I'm afraid that would drive everyone, yawning in terror, straight out of the bookstore. So let's just say it has naked pictures of Natasha Richardson...Can't say that? Well, let's say it's a nasty farce with lots of bathroom humor and violence which reminds me at least as much of Fawlty Towers as it does of Midnight's Children.'

-- Jay McInerney

A postmodern detective story, a scathing send-up of the rapacious eighties, a macabre Gothic -- all rolled up in a bravura tragicomic entertainment.

The Winshaw family, as their official biographer is warned by old Mortimer Winshaw himself, is the meanest, greediest, cruellest bunch of backstabbing penny-pinching bastards who ever crawled across the face of the earth.' Bankers, industrialists, politicians, arms dealers and media barons -- they rule Britannia, more or less. They also have a guilty secret in the shape of a mad aunt stashed away in a remote asylum, convinced of familial treachery during World War II and determined to effect the ruin of her entire clan.

In the summer of 1990, while Saddam Hussein is provoking yet another war, the Winshaws' biographer (a severely depressed young novelist) is piecing together the truth of their sordid legacy, and discovers that it converges bizarrely with the plot of a film he's been obsessed by since childhood. Moreover, it seems that all of this, dynasty and cinema alike, has some mysterious connection with his own troubled history. Of course whether he -- or anybody else -- will be alive when this compound riddle is solved remains to be seen.

Savagely funny, hugely inventive and passionately political. The Winshaw Legacy assumes Dickensian proportions as it excoriates the modern age of greed -- and heralds the American debut of an extraordinary writer. As The Economist concluded: Talented comic novelists are rare [but] that exclusive club -- Thomas Love Peacock, Evelyn Waugh and P. G. Wodehouse are among its members -- has admitted a newcomer, an Englishman called Jonathan Coe.'

'A remarkable achievement; intelligent, funny, and important.' -- The Times Literary Supplement

'An extravagant literary blockbuster...A grand and intelligent novel, so full of accomplishment and pleasure.' -- New Statesman & Society'

Really, something to get excited about...his big, hilarious, intricate, furious, moving treat of a novel.' -- The Guardian

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About the Author:

Born in Birmingham in 1961, Jonathan Coe took degrees from Cambridge and Warwick universities. He lives in London.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this patchily entertaining postmodern pastiche of class warfare, Coe places Michael Owen, a burnt-out middle-class writer, as the family chronicler of the Winshaws, an upper-class British dynasty involved in everything wrong with modern England: television and tabloid journalism (Hilary, the hack); Thatcherite politics and National Health Service Reform (Henry, the back-stabber); industrialized agriculture (the beastly Dorothy); insider stock trading (Thomas, the voyeur); and arms dealing with Iraq (the callous Mark). Coe's contemporary vile bodies are not only utterly unprincipled, greedy and philistine, but their presentation is uninspired and unamusing as well, contracting these issues down to a distinctly parochial dimension. Sandwiching their corrupt stories is an intricate comic plot out of the murder-at-the-manor genre, weirdly reflected in Owen's obsession with an old movie in which he is convinced he stars and which determines his fate. Coe's dry, deflating Midlands sense of humor infrequently rises above the episodes of scrupulously didactic satire and works well with the more quotidian social ills, such as telly-addiction and the unending waits in NHS hospitals. The narrative becomes more interesting toward the end, when Coe gets around to murdering a number of his characters, but since they never become quite real in the first place, the reader doesn't really care. A story closer to this mundane Britain of post-Thatcher disaffection would have been more welcome for his American debut than agitprop Waugh-mongering.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780679754053: The Winshaw Legacy: or, What a Carve Up!

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ISBN 10:  0679754059 ISBN 13:  9780679754053
Publisher: Vintage, 1996
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