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  • Published: 28 November 2023
  • ISBN: 9780241517406
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $22.99


A moving, brutally funny and true portrait of Britain told through four generations of one family

In Bournville, a placid suburb of Birmingham, sits a famous chocolate factory. For eleven-year-old Mary and her family in 1945, it's the centre of the world. The reason their streets smell faintly of chocolate, the place where most of their friends and neighbours have worked for decades.

Mary will go on to live through seventy-five years of social change, from the Coronation and the World Cup final, to royal weddings, royal funerals, Brexit and Covid-19. She'll have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Parts of the chocolate factory will be transformed into a theme park, as modern life and the city crowd in on their peaceful enclave. Will these changing times bring Mary's family - and their country - closer together, or leave them more adrift and divided than ever before?

  • Published: 28 November 2023
  • ISBN: 9780241517406
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Jonathan Coe

Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham in 1961. His novels include Rotters, The Accidental Woman, A Touch of Love, The Dwarves of Death and What a Carve Up!, which won the 1995 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Itranger.The House of Sleep won the Writers' Guild Best Fiction Award for 1997.

Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham, UK, in 1961. He began writing at an early age. His first surviving story, a detective thriller called The Castle of Mystery, was written when he was eight. His first published novel was The Accidental Woman in 1987, but it was his fourth, What a Carve Up!, that established his reputation as one of England’s finest comic novelists, winning the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1985 and being translated into many languages. Seven bestselling novels and many other awards have followed, including the 2005 Samuel Johnson Prize for Like A Fiery Elephant, a biography of the experimental novelist, B. S. Johnson. Jonathan lives in London with his wife and two daughters.

Also by Jonathan Coe

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Praise for Bournville

Told with compassion, steadiness, decency and always a glint in the eye, this is a novel that both challenges and delights. For anyone who has felt lost in the past six years, it is like meeting an ally

Rachel Joyce, author of Miss Benson's Beetle

A compelling social history that's sprinkled throughout with Coe's inimitable humour, love and white-hot anger

Evening Standard

Very tempting

The Times

This is another eminently readable Coe, full of believable characters and fizzing dialogue. And it couldn't be more timely

Big Issue

As the latest in J Coe's Unrest sequence, Bournville is one of the most warm-hearted, brilliant and beguiling of his State of the Nation novels. To show three generations of an ordinary Midlands family, their paths taken and not taken, their friends, lovers, jobs, achievements and losses; to interweave this with 75 years of national history - and to do so with such a lightness of touch is a tremendous achievement. All the absurdities of our nation wrapped up in something as bitter, sweet, and addictive as a bar of the best Bournville chocolate

Amanda Craig, author of The Golden Rule

A hugely impressive state-of-the-nation tale


Coe has the great gift of combining engaging human stories with a deeper structural pattern that gives the book its heft


This charming read is as warming, rich and comforting as a mug of hot chocolate

The Times

Coe is an eminently readable novelist

Daily Mail

Few contemporary writers can make a success of the state of the nation novel: Jonathan Coe is one of them

New Statesman

For all the novel's satirical tang and historical sweep, it's at root a tender portrait of apparently simple folk trying to fathom the mystery of their own personalities


A tender portrayal of the state of the nation through the prism of family relationships

Woman & Home

There is much to enjoy here, as in all Coe's novels . . . an intelligent criticism of our shared history since 1945


[Coe] has a huge talent for balancing humour with poignancy

Book of the month, Good Housekeeping

With his third novel in four years, Coe is on a roll; he tracks the fortunes of a family through snapshots of communal experiences, from the Queen's coronation through the 1966 World Cup to pandemic lockdown, in a moving, compassionate portrait of individual and national change

Guardian, Best Fiction of 2022

Coe's interwoven paeans to the lives of those rooted in the very centre of the UK - The Rotter's Club and Middle England among them - blend comedy, tragedy and social commentary in enjoyably memorable fashion, and his latest, Bournville, is no exception . . . Coe's particular gift is to understand how nostalgia, regret and an apprehension of what the future will bring might make us more, not less, empathetic to the frailties of those around us

FT, Best Audiobooks of the Year

Set in Coe's native Midlands and told through the lives of four generations of one family, beginning with 11-year-old Mary in 1945, Bournville is a poignant, clever and witty portrait of social change and how the British see themselves.

Radio Times, Best Books of the Year

Epic in scope, but personal in resonance

Elizabeth Day

The way Coe starkly captures the paranoia and fear of the early days of the pandemic is impressive and he has written what he calls a "faithful account" of the death of his mother during lockdown. It makes an intensely affecting finale to a fine novel.

Independent, Best Book of the Year

At heart Bournville is a novel designed to make you think by making you laugh, and the seriousness of the subject matter is tempered throughout by the author's piercing eye for the more ludicrous elements of human nature

New Statesman

British novelists love to diagnose the state of the nation. Few do it better than Jonathan Coe, who writes with warmth and subversive glee about social change and the comforting mundanities it imperils


Slips down a treat

Daily Mail

Bournville is Jonathan Coe's most ambitious novel yet . . . a novel about people and place. Entertaining and often poignant, it presents a captivating portrait of how Britons lived then and the way they live now


Affectionate, full of good humour, and often moving, this is Coe at his best.

Crack Magazine

A book of things blended together: comedy with tragedy, England's past with its present, and cocoa solids with vegetable fat . . . the best fictional portrayal of lockdown that I've read

Irish Times

The changing face of postwar Britain is brilliantly captured


Full of vibrant characters and fabulous dialogue, which switches from laugh-out-loud funny to extremely poignant


In this affecting generational saga, framed by the pandemic and structured by seven milestone broadcasts, Jonathan Coe - known for his state-of-the-nation novels - once again takes the temperature of Britain

FT, Best Books of 2022