I think Jonathan Coe is a bit slept on in the US. His novels are always likable and readable, and he likes to examine big issues by telling the stories of ordinary lives. In his latest, we check in on Mary and her extended family at various pivotal moments in English history, beginning with VE Day and ending in March 2020. Bournville, an archetypal model village and the place of Mary's birth, ties the novel together as both a place and a motif. (If you can find it--it seems to have gone out of print--go back and read The Winshaw Legacy for a follow-up.)— From Rebecca
A tender and wickedly funny portrait of England told through four generations of one family.
Bournville is a quiet village in the heart of England famous for its chocolate. For eleven-year-old Mary, it is the center of her world, the place where most of her family's friends and neighbors have worked for decades and where the streets smell faintly of chocolate.
During the next three-quarters of a century, Mary will have children and grandchildren and great-children. She will live through the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the 1966 World Cup final (the last time England won), royal weddings and royal funerals, Brexit and Covid-19. Parts of the chocolate factory will be transformed into a theme park, and Bournville itself will gradually disappear into the sprawl of the growing city of Birmingham.
As we travel through seventy-five years of social change, from James Bond to Princess Diana, and from wartime nostalgia to the World Wide Web, one pressing question starts to emerge: will these changing times bring Mary's family--and their country--closer together, or leave them more adrift and divided than ever before?
Bournville is a rich and poignant new novel from the bestselling, Costa award-winning author of Middle England. It is the story of a woman, of a nation's love affair with chocolate, of Britain itself.