The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim- Jonathon Coe

This book was read as part of the Take a Chance Challenge

from bookdepository

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Maxwell Sim seems to have hit rock bottom: separated from his wife and daughter, estranged from his father, and with no one to confide in even though he has 74 friends on Facebook. He’s not even sure whether he’s got a job until suddenly a strange business proposition comes his way which involves a long journey to the Shetland Isles – and a voyage into his family’s past which throws up some surprising revelations.

Jonathan Coe’s new book is a story for our times: Maxwell finds himself at sea in the modern world, surrounded by social networks but unable to relate properly to anyone. Yet as he delves into his family history he manages to find the resources to survive.


I really want to talk about the end of this book but I think maybe the end is not the best place to start!

Overall The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim made me think of Mark Haddon’s ‘A Spot of Bother‘. The character of Max was very similar to George, or at least their situation was. However while I found A Spot of Bother a little disturbing, and found it difficult to see through to the jokes, I found that a lot of The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim was funny, even what could have been depressing bits were delivered well, they didn’t seem too gloomy. [highlight for A Spot of Bother spoiler]In fact my overriding memory of A Spot of Bother is of George trying to cut off his excema with a pair of scissors. The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim has no such disturbing scenes (although apparently the scene in A Spot of Bother is meant to be funny.)

There were a fair few twists and turns as well that were good. One though seemed really unneccessary and I don’t really get why it was included. I’m not going to spell it out which bit because I think if you’ve read it you’ll know, and spoilers are tempting to read!

The only really problem I’m say with this book is that it can be quite mundane at times. You just feel like you’re reading the life of any old person really, but maybe that is the point. Max is meant to be someone who could easily be you.

So the end. That was one twist and half. I’m still trying to get my head around it two days later. In some ways I kind of get why it was there, something to do with Jonathon Coe talking about himself, or maybe just writers in general. It just seems a bit out of place.

Certainly not the best Coe I’ve ever read, but still worth the read.



Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Humour

7 responses to “The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim- Jonathon Coe

  1. I think I liked it a bit better than you, until, indeed, that particular part that was totally unnecessary (recent review on my blog, if you’re interested).

    I loved him driving through the country and meeting these people and the whole silly situation.


  2. Pingback: The Take a Chance Challenge 2011 | Lucybird's Book Blog

  3. Lucybird

    lol me too. Most of all though I like when he is sitting in the park and gets mugged, then helps the mugger get to the train station.


  4. And here is what Dubai thinks of Maxwell…

    from Monica and Happy Diwali for today.


  5. Lucybird

    Happy Diwali to you too Monica


  6. Pingback: Review of the Year 2011- Challenges | Lucybird's Book Blog

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