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Ben Elton’s career as both performer and writer encompasses some of the most memorable and incisive comedy of the past twenty years. In addition to his hugely influential work as a stand-up comic, he is the writer of such TV hits as The Young Ones, Blackadder and The Thin Blue Line.
Elton has written three musicals, The Beautiful Game, We Will Rock You and Tonight’s the Night and three West End plays. His internationally bestselling novels include Popcorn, Inconceivable, Dead Famous and High Society.
It will come as no surprise to learn that Ben Elton has written another remarkable book, ‘Time and Time Again’ however, captures the flag of remarkable and nails instead to the mast, extraordinary. The first chapter seizes your attention, the second captivates it entirely, so rub your hands with glee and settle in for a stonkingly good read. Hugh ‘Guts’ Stanton is an intensely thrilling character, not by any means perfect, oh no, but definitely someone with the ability to change the world, change history even. There is such exceptionally clever writing here, groups of words can seduce and entice, then without warning, gang up and assail your senses. The surprises are also sneaky and capable of leaving you open mouthed in shock. A galloping great read, this is a book to fall in love with, to tell your friends about and as your mind replays the action, you will want it close by to dip into and read again and again.
Berlin 1920 Two babies are born. Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood. As Germany marches into its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested to the very limits of endurance. And the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice...Which one of them will survive?
The comedian and satirist turns his attention to the credit crunch with this tale of a privileged futures trader who becomes bankrupt and the effect on his family and friends. It’s light and amusing but speaks to the heart of our society; touching and thought provoking, but able to make you laugh. It may be a depressing subject, but there’s no chance of this neat satire spoiling your mood for it’s the ideal thing to help you unwind poolside before the cocktail hour and count your blessings. It’s clever stuff.
Back to his modern satires, for his last novel The First Casualty was historical, very special and unusual. With this one he returns to the familiar social territory of Dead Famous and Past Mortem. It centres around the TV Pop Idol shows and the backbiting celebrity world surrounding it. Some quirky characters and amusing ideas, but not his best, although very clever, and as a Ben Elton fan it’s a ‘must read’.Similar this month: None but try Kevin Sampson.Comparison: Stephen Fry, Rupert Morgan, Christopher Buckley.
The king of social satire with a tale of gruesome murders linked to the new craze of retracing one’s past through the web – Friends Reunited. He writes beautifully, a very clever man. You must try him. Comparison: Stephen Fry, Rupert Morgan’s Let There Be Lite, David Nobbs.Similar this month: None but do try William Nicholson or William Sutcliffe.
Flanders, June 1917: a British officer and celebrated poet, is shot dead, killed not by German fire, but while recuperating from shell shock well behind the lines. A young English soldier is arrested and, although he protests his innocence, charged with his murder. Douglas Kingsley is a conscientious objector, previously a detective with the London police, now imprisoned for his beliefs. He is released and sent to France in order to secure a conviction. Forced to conduct his investigations amidst the hell of The Third Battle of Ypres, Kingsley soon discovers that both the evidence and the witnesses he needs are quite literally disappearing into the mud that surrounds him. Ben Elton's tenth novel is a gut-wrenching historical drama which explores some fundamental questions. What is murder? What is justice in the face of unimaginable daily slaughter? And where is the honour in saving a man from the gallows if he is only to be returned to die in a suicidal battle? As the gap between legally-sanctioned and illegal murder becomes evermore blurred, Kingsley quickly learns that the first casualty when war comes is truth.
As Trafford Sewell struggles to work through the usual crowds of commuters, he is confronted by the intimidating figure of his Parish Confessor. Why has Trafford not been streaming his every moment of sexual intimacy onto the community website like everybody else? Does he think he's different or special in some way? Better than his fellow man and woman? Does he have something to hide? Imagine a world where everyone knows everything about everybody. Where what a person 'feels' and 'truly believes' is protected under the law, while what is rational, even provable is condemned as heresy. A world where to question ignorance and intolerance is to commit a Crime against Faith. Ben Elton's dark, savagely comic novel imagines a post-apocalyptic society where religious intolerance combines with a confessional sex obsessed, self-centric culture to create a world where nakedness is modesty, ignorance is wisdom and privacy is a dangerous perversion. A chilling vision of what's to come? Or something rather closer to what we call reality?
Why are we all so hostile? So quick to take offence? Truly we are living in the age of outrage. A series of apparently random murders draws amiable, old-school Detective Mick Matlock into a world of sex, politics, reality TV and a bewildering kaleidoscope of opposing identity groups. Lost in a blizzard of hashtags, his already complex investigation is further impeded by the fact that he simply doesn't 'get' a single thing about anything anymore. Meanwhile, each day another public figure confesses to having 'misspoken' and prostrates themselves before the judgement of Twitter. Begging for forgiveness, assuring the public that is not who I am . But if nobody is who they are anymore - then who the f**k are we? Ben Elton returns with a blistering satire of the world as it fractures around us. Get ready for a roller-coaster thriller, where nothing - and no one - is off limits.
This does indeed deserve comparisons with Blackadder Radio Times A knockabout, well-researched take on the working and domestic life of Shakespeare. The Guardian It's the 1590s. William Shakespeare - brought to life on screen by the inimitable David Mitchell - is at the start of his career. But no one is taking him seriously. In London, he is mercilessly mocked by his rivals and at home in Stratford he is belittled by his sullen teenage daughter. Yet he is determined to find an ending for his newest creation Romeo and Juliet. Luckily, inspiration is forthcoming. The trials and tribulations of his closest friends and family reveal the plot twists he'd been missing. And not only for this famous tragedy but for many of his finest plays. With sparkling wordplay, hilarious gags and his trademark wit, Ben Elton celebrates the great William Shakespeare and reveals the startling stories behind the playwright's best-known plays.
Berlin 1920 Two babies are born. Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood. As Germany marches into its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested to the very limits of endurance. And the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice....Which one of them will survive? Ben Elton's most personal novel to date,Two Brothers transports the reader to the time of history's darkest hour.
GridlockToo many cars and not enough space equals gridlock.Gridlock is when a city dies. Killed in the name of freedom. Killed in the name of oil and steel. Choked on carbon monoxide and strangled with a pair of fluffy dice. How did it come to this? How did the ultimate freedom machine end up paralysing us all? How did we end up driving to our own funeral, in somebody else's gravy train?Deborah and Geoffrey know, but they have transport problems of their own, and anyway, whoever it was that murdered the city can just as easily murder them.Chart ThrobChart Throb The ultimate pop quest. Ninety five thousand hopefuls. Three judges. Just one winner. And that's Calvin Simms, the genius behind the show. Calvin always wins because Calvin writes the rules. But this year, as he sits smugly in judgement upon the mingers, clingers and blingers whom he has pre-selected in his carefully scripted 'search' for a star, he has no idea that the rules are changing. The 'real' is about to be put back into 'reality' television and Calvin and his fellow judges (the nation's favourite mum and the other bloke) are about to become ex - factors themselves.Chart Throb. One winner. A whole bunch of losersBlind FaithImagine a world where everyone knows everything about everybody. Where 'sharing' is valued above all, and privacy is considered a dangerous perversion.Trafford wouldn't call himself a rebel, but he's daring to be different, to stand out from the crowd. In his own small ways, he wants to push against the system. But in this world, uniformity is everything. And even tiny defiances won't go unnoticed.Ben Elton's dark, savagely comic novel imagines a post-apocalyptic society where religious intolerance combines with a sex-obsessed, utterly egocentric culture. In this world, nakedness is modesty, independent thought subversive, and ignorance is wisdom. A chilling vision of what's to come?Or something rather closer to home?
This feels more like the Ben Elton from the days of Gridlock and Stark so if you are a fan you’ll know that this is going to give you a bit more to get your teeth into than perhaps the last few of his modern satires have. There will be inevitable comparisons to Orwell’s 1984 but Elton writes with his own inimitable style and humour. This storyline is a scary idea that doesn’t seem too far from a possible reality.
Stark is a secret consortium with more money than God, and the social conscience of a dog on a croquet lawn. What's more, it knows the Earth is dying. Deep in Western Australia where the Aboriginals used to milk the trees, a planet-sized plot is taking shape. Some green freaks pick up the scent: a pommie poseur; a brain-fried Vietnam vet; Aboriginals who have lost their land...not much against a conspiracy that controls society. But EcoAction isn't in society: it just lives in the same place, along with the cockroaches. If you're facing the richest and most disgusting scheme in history, you have to do more than stick up two fingers and say 'peace'.
Gridlock is when a city dies. Killed in the name of freedom. Killed in the name of oil and steel. Choked on carbon monoxide and strangled with a pair of fluffy dice. How did it come to this? How did the ultimate freedom machine end up paralysing us all? How did we end up driving to our own funeral, in somebody else's gravy train? Deborah and Geoffrey know, but they have transport problems of their own, and anyway, whoever it was that murdered the city can just as easily murder them.
â€œThe first casualty when war comes is truthâ€ so why send a conscientious objector detective out to the mud and horror of Ypres in 1917 to investigate a murder when sanctioned slaughter is all around you? An impossible, ridiculous situation and an interesting scenario of Mr Eltonâ€™s. This is powerful, fast, exciting and very different from previous works by Elton. Full of concealment, contradiction and disillusion, it is dark, depressing and very good indeed.Comparison: For 1st World War Pat Barker, for Ben Elton satire Rupert Morgan, for detection Christopher Fowlerâ€™s Bryant and May series.Similar this month: None.
SMALL, WELL APPOINTED FUTURE. SEMI DETACHED. If the end of the world is nigh, then surely it's only sensible to make alternative arrangements. Certainly the Earth has its points, but what most people need is something smaller and more manageable. Of course there are those who say that's planetary treason, but who cares what the weirdos and terrorists think? Not Nathan. All he cares is that his movie gets made and that there's somebody left to see it. In marketing terms the end of the world will be very big. Anyone trying to save it should remember that.
The war on drugs has been lost but for want of the courage to face the fact that the whole world is rapidly becoming one vast criminal network. From pop stars and princes to crack whores and street kids. From the Groucho Club toilets to the poppy fields of Afghanistan, we are all partners in crime. HIGH SOCIETY is a story or rather a collection of interconnected stories that takes the reader on a hilarious, heart breaking and terrifying journey through the kaleidoscope world that the law has created and from which the law offers no protection.
One house. Ten contestants. Thirty cameras. Forty microphones. Yet again the public gorges its voyeuristic appetite as another group of unknown and unremarkable people submit themselves to the brutal exposure of the televised real-life soap opera, House Arrest. Everybody knows the rules: total strangers are forced to live together while the rest of the country watches them do it. Who will crack first? Who will have sex with whom? Who will the public love and who will they hate? All the usual questions. And then, suddenly, there are some new ones. Who is the murderer? How did he or she manage to kill under the constant gaze of the thirty television cameras? Why did they do it? And who will be next?
Sam and Lucy seem like the perfect couple. Successful, happy and in love. But life isn't that simple. Lucy thinks thinks Sam is a sad, cold sensitivity-exclusion zone who would rather read a newspaper than have an emotion. Sam thinks Lucy is blaming him because she can't walk past Mothercare without getting all teary. The problem is that they might be infertile. And in more ways than one. Lucy wants a baby. Sam wants to write a hit movie. And given that the average IVF cycle has about a one in five chance of going into full production, Lucy's chances of getting what she wants are considerably better than Sam's. What Sam and Lucy are about to go through is absolutely inconceivable. The question is, can their love survive? Or are the odds stacked against them once again?
It's two fifteen a.m., you're in bed alone and you're woken by the phone. Your eyes are wide and your body tense before it has completed so much as a single ring. And as you wake, in the tiny moment between sleep and consciousness, you know already that something is wrong. Only someone bad would call at such an hour. Or someone good, but with bad news, which would probably be worse. You lie there in the darkness and wait for the answer machine to kick in. Your own voice sounds strange as it tells you that nobody is there but that a message can be left. You feel your heart beat. You listen. And then you hear the one voice in the world you least expect . . . your very own Blast From the Past.
Ben Elton's plays in one volume for the first time Gasping: ...an often hilarious satire on yuppiedom, advertising and corporate greed (Daily Telegraph); ...the sharpest futuristic comedy since Henceforward, and the best Green comedy since The Good Life was young. (Financial Times). Silly Cow: It has an ingenious plot...another perfect occasion for a Ben Elton satire on the modern world... (Financial Times). Popcorn: An enjoyable, intelligent, thought-provoking play (Independent); It thrills on stage precisely because it adopts the sick humour, sickening violence and downright sexiness of the Stone-Tarantino school of film-making that Elton is satirising (Evening Standard).