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  • Published: 2 July 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241989715
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $22.99

Mr Wilder and Me

The dazzling new novel about fame, time and nostalgia from the bestselling author of Middle England

A young woman named Calista meets the famed Hollywood director Billy Wilder in the sweltering summer of 1976. She knows nothing about him or his work, but this chance encounter will change her life for good. But while Calista is thrilled with her new adventure, Wilder himself - struggling to raise the money for his next feature film - is living with the realisation that his star may be on the wane.

In his new novel that is, by turns, funny, tender and profoundly truthful, Jonathan Coe turns his gaze to the nature of time, fame, family and nostalgia. When the world is catapulting towards change, do you hold on for dear life or decide it's time to let go?

  • Published: 2 July 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241989715
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • 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 Mr Wilder and Me

A coming of age story which offers a fascinating insight into fame - and the perils of an industry in flux

Daily Telegraph

A satisfyingly sweeping novel that still manages to push the form in new directions. As good as anything he's written - a novel to cherish


Effortlessly pleasurable and deceptively simple. Mr Wilder & Me doesn't lack resonance, yet stays light on its feet. The whole book feels like some marvellous party where you ricochet from one good conversation to another

The Times

The dialogue's sharp, the comic timing excellent

Sunday Times

One of my favourite writers . . . a thoughtful tender read

Good Housekeeping

A beautiful, bittersweet novel that is itself crying out for the silver screen treatment . . . sheer delight


This is a charming, bittersweet book, and a perfect reminder of art's value in stark times


Absolutely wonderful

Nigella Lawson

This elegiac novella is utterly charming, deeply poignant and ultimately uplifting. And yes, it would make a great film

Mail on Sunday

A tender portrait. Coe's close-up on Wilder doesn't just celebrate the man but embodies his glorious ability to say sad things in a funny way, and vice versa

Daily Telegraph

Elegantly brings together Calista's and Wilder's worlds


A love letter to the spirit of cinema


An account of Billy Wilder's later years that sweeps beautifully from Hollywood to Greece and London while all the time reflecting on the horrors of 20th-century Europe

FT, Best Books of 2020

An engaging exploration of the fleeting nature of fame

i News, 50 best books for Christmas 2020

Knowledgeably enthralled by cinema, Jonathan Coe has often spliced it inventively into his fiction. This richly enjoyable novel is entirely devoted to it. The career of one of Hollywood's greatest directors is unrolled with wit and enthusiasm tinged with melancholy

The Sunday Times Best Fiction Books of the Year

A book more loving towards its readers or its subject is hard to imagine

John Self, The Critic

History meets fiction in this absorbing read . . . A nostalgic look at a girl coming of age and a man dealing with age, evocatively written

Woman's Own

Coe's charming, bittersweet novel fictionalises director Billy Wilder's wilderness years; shunned by Hollywood, he films Fedora in Greece, befriending a Greek woman (the novel's narrator).

Daily Telegraph

A nostalgic, atmospheric coming-of-age story

Mail on Sunday