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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?