A comic spy caper and international love story, set in Europe in the middle of the last century, Expo 58 is the latest sublime creation by Jonathan Coe, hailed by Nick Hornby as “probably the best English novelist of his generation.”
Handsome, unassuming Thomas Foley is an employee at the Central Office of Information whose particular biography (Belgian mother, pub-owning father) makes him just the man to oversee the “authentic British pub” that will be erected at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. It’s the first major expo after World War II, meant to signify unity, but there’s inevitable intrigue involving the U.S. and Soviet delegations. In the shadow of an immense, imposingly modern structure called the Atomium, the married Foley becomes both agent and pawn—when he’s not falling head over heels for Anneke, his Belgian hostess.
Funny, fast-paced, and genuinely moving, Expo 58 is both a perfect evocation of a moment in history and the welcome return of one of today’s finest novelists.
©2014 Jonathan Coe (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved
i like to read. i like to listen.
What a wonderful tale. this book reminded me of the old espionage movies that i so love.
it made me laugh out loud in terrible delight. all the conversations including the enigmatic Mr. Radford and Mr. Wayne were brilliantly madcap. i absolutely loved those two...would read an entire book about them. the letters back and forth between Foley and his wife were just ripe with hidden meanings and awful subtext.
the descriptions of the real Expo 58 were wonderful....makes me wish i could have been to one of these World's Fairs back in the day. they sounded amazing. their 50's predictions of the future (now) were just so enjoyable to read! the silly things that people used to do back then were highlighted and worked into the story to make us giggle and cringe and shake our heads (i.e. advising a pregnant woman to smoke to calm her nerves).
i have only read one other Coe novel..but will surely be visiting his others. this novel was a pleasure to read from start to finish.
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