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England, England
JULIAN BARNES

England, England by Julian Barnes
39 reviews (1998) (288p)
Man Booker Prize Finalist

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Book Description
Booker Prize Finalist

"Wickedly funny." --The New York Times

Imagine an England where all the pubs are quaint, where the Windsors behave themselves (mostly), where the cliffs of Dover are actually white, and where Robin Hood and his merry men really are merry. This is precisely what visionary tycoon, Sir Jack Pitman, seeks to accomplish on the Isle of Wight, a "destination" where tourists can find replicas of Big Ben (half size), Princess Di's grave, and even Harrod's (conveniently located inside the tower of London).

Martha Cochrane, hired as one of Sir Jack's resident "no-people," ably assists him in realizing his dream. But when this land of make-believe gradually gets horribly and hilariously out of hand, Martha develops her own vision of the perfect England. Julian Barnes delights us with a novel that is at once a philosophical inquiry, a burst of mischief, and a moving elegy about authenticity and nationality.




Amazon.com Review
Imagine being able to visit England--all of England--in a single weekend. Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Stonehenge and Hadrian's Wall, Harrods, Manchester United Football Club, the Tower of London, and even the Royal Family all within easy distance of the each other, accessible, and, best of all, each one living up to an idealized version of itself. This fantasy Britain is the very real (and some would say very cynical) vision of Sir Jack Pitman, a monumentally egomaniacal mogul with a more than passing resemblance to modern-day buccaneers Sir Rupert Murdoch or Robert Maxwell: "'We are not talking theme park,' he began. 'We are not talking heritage centre. We are not talking Disneyland, World's Fair, Festival of Britain, Legoland or Parc Asterix.'" No indeed; Sir Jack proposes nothing less than to offer "the thing itself," a re-creation of everything that adds up to England in the hearts and minds of tourists looking for an "authentic" experience. But where to locate such an enterprise? As Sir Jack points out,
England, as the mighty William and many others have observed, is an island. Therefore, if we are serious, if we are seeking to offer the thing itself, we in turn must go in search of a precious whatsit set in a silver doodah.
Soon the perfect whatsit is found: the Isle of Wight; and a small army of Sir Jack's forces are sent to lay siege to it. Swept up in the mayhem are Martha Cochrane, a thirtysomething consultant teetering on the verge of embittered middle age, and Paul Harrison, a younger man looking for an anchor in the world. The two first find each other, then trip over a skeleton in Sir Jack's closet that might prove useful to their careers but disastrous to their relationship. In the course of constructing this mad package-tour dystopia, Julian Barnes has a terrific time skewering postmodernism, the British, the press, the government, celebrity, and big business. At the same time his very funny novel offers a provocative meditation on the nature of identity, both individual and national, as the lines between the replica and the thing itself begin to blur. Readers of Barnes have learned to expect the unexpected, and once again he more than lives up to the promise in England, England. But then, that was only to be expected. --Alix Wilber


Other Award Winning Books by Julian Barnes
The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
170 reviews (2016) (224p) (PW ANMCT) () () (Econ)
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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
1194 reviews (2011) (160p) (Amazon Top100) (NYT100) (Kirkus Top25) (New Yorker) (Booker) (ALA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Nothing To Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
34 reviews (2008) (256p) (NYTimes Non)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Arthur & George by Julian Barnes
114 reviews (2006) (400p) (Booker)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
The Lemon Table by Julian Barnes
27 reviews (2004) (256p) (ALA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 10 1/2 CHAPTERS by Julian Barnes
60 reviews (1989) (320p) (NYTimes)
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STARING AT THE SUN by Julian Barnes
7 reviews (1987) (208p) (NYTimes)
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Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes
37 reviews (1984) (192p) (Booker) (NYTimes)
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Julian Barnes Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 6  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 5  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 1 The Sense of an Ending ·  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 4 England, England · Flaubert's Parrot · Arthur & George · The Sense of an Ending ·  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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Pulitzer Prize | National Book Critics Circle Award | National Book Award | PEN/Faulkner Award | Man Booker Prize | Contact