Middle England
Jonathan Coe

Book cover image

Narrated By: Rory Kinnear

Duration: 14 hours and 12 minutes

What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

Costa Best Novel Award 2019 Winner.

It was tempting to think, at times like this, that some bizarre hysteria had gripped the British people.
Beginning eight years ago on the outskirts of Birmingham, where car factories have been replaced by Poundland, and London, where frenzied riots give way to Olympic fever, Middle England follows a brilliantly vivid cast of characters through a time of immense change.

There are newlyweds Ian and Sophie, who disagree about the future of the country and, possibly, the future of their relationship; Doug, the political commentator who writes impassioned columns about austerity from his Chelsea townhouse, and his radical teenage daughter who will stop at nothing in her quest for social justice; Benjamin Trotter, who embarks on an apparently doomed new career in middle age, and his father, Colin, whose last wish is to vote in the European referendum. And within all these lives is the story of modern England: a story of nostalgia and delusion, of bewilderment and barely suppressed rage.

Middle England is read by Rory Kinnear.

Following in the footsteps of The Rotters' Club and The Closed Circle, Jonathan Coe's new novel is the novel for our strange new times.

©2018 Jonathan Coe (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd


Modern & contemporary fiction, Narrative theme: Politics, Narrative theme: Social issues

Listen to a sample

Middle England takes all that is memorable and moving about Coe's body of work and throws it at the present emergency



Nicola Sturgeon

The first great Brexit novel

Sathnam Sanghera

Sparkled with all the acuity of his best novels . . . Uproarious and always on-the-money

Evening Standard

Millions of words have been and will be written on Brexit but few will get to the heart of why it is happening as incisively as Middle England

Irish Times

Coe is as funny and tender as ever, restoring some humanity to the tumultuous societal backdrop


Brilliantly funny . . . a compelling state of the nation novel, full of light and shade, which vividly charts modern Britain's tragicomic slide


Coe is an extraordinarily deft plotter . . . he tackles big ambitious themes, in this case the effect of politics on people's lives, and political opinions on personal relations

Mail on Sunday

Jonathan Coe's Middle England is brilliantly insightful on the times we are living in

Big Issue

Let me add to the chorus of praise for Jonathan Coe's new book Middle England. Easily my favourite of his since What a Carve Up! Which did for Thatcherism what Middle England does for Brexit

John Crace

Tackling his characters' opposing points of view, he draws a portrait of a recognisable Britain baffled by its loss of industry and jobs, and of everyday people shocked by a rise of acceptable racism and xenophobia. It's also very, very funny


The beauty of Jonathan Coe's new novel, Middle England, is the way it tracks the seemingly unconnected moments that brought Britain to its knees - and with devastating delicacy, too


This book is sublimely good. State of the (Brexit) nation novel to end them all, but also funny, tender, generous, so human and intelligent about age and love as well as politics

India Knight

You can't stop reading....I was haunted for days

Independent on 'Number 11'

This is a picture of England that comes from a place of compassion and understanding


From post-industrial Birmingham to the London riots and the current political gridlock, it takes in family, literature and love in a comedy for our times


Middle England combines top-class soap opera storytelling with melancholy insight into what it means to be English


Coe's comic critique of a divided country dazzles . . . properly laugh-out-loud funny . . . it is also incisive and brilliant about our divided country and the deep chasms revealed by the vote to leave. Do not miss

The Bookseller

A copper bottomed masterpiece

Barney Norris

No modern novelist is better at charting the precariousness of middle-class life


Jonathan Coe has established himself as one of the most entertaining chroniclers of our times


Middle England is a full-blooded state of the nation novel, and it brings us bang up-to-date

Sunday Times

Very funny . . . Exceptionally good . . . Delightful

Saturday Review

Probably the best English novelist of his generation

Nick Hornby

Coe can make you smile, sigh, laugh; he has abundant sympathy for his characters


In Middle England, Coe shows an understanding of this country that goes beyond what most cabinet ministers can muster . . . he subtly builds a picture that exposes the cracks in society . . . he is a master of satire but pokes fun subtly, without ever being cruel, biting or blatant . . . his light, funny writing makes you feel better

Evening Standard

Expansive and often very funny . . . Coe - a writer of uncommon decency - reminds us that the way out of this mess is through moderation, through compromise, through that age-old English ability to laugh at ourselves


His affectionately witty attitude to our human foibles is always uplifting . . . Superb

The Times

An angry and exuberant book

Sunday Times on 'Number 11'

The great chronicler of Englishness


This book is sublimely good. State of the (Brexit) nation novel to end them all, but also funny, tender, generous, so human and intelligent about age and love as well as politics

India Knight

A pertinent, entertaining study of a nation in crisis

Financial Times

An astute, enlightened and enlightening journey into the heart of our current national identity crisis. Both moving and funny. As we'd expect from Coe