2023 Political Fiction Book prize finalist


Jonathan Coe

Published by: Penguin Books

In Bournville, a placid suburb of Birmingham, sits a famous chocolate factory. For eleven-year-old Mary and her family in 1945, it’s the centre of the world. The reason their streets smell faintly of chocolate, the place where most of their friends and neighbours have worked for decades. Mary will go on to live through the Coronation and the World Cup final, royal weddings and royal funerals, Brexit and Covid-19. She’ll have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Parts of the chocolate factory will be transformed into a theme park, as modern life and the city crowd in on their peaceful enclave.

As we travel through seventy-five years of social change, from James Bond to Princess Diana, and from wartime nostalgia to the World Wide Web, one pressing question starts to emerge: will these changing times bring Mary’s family – and their country – closer together, or leave them more adrift and divided than ever before?

Bournville is a rich and poignant new novel from the bestselling, Costa award-winning author of Middle England. It is the story of a woman, of a nation’s love affair with chocolate, of Britain itself.

Jonathan Coe has been writing excellent state-of-the-nation novels for 30 years. His latest, Bournville, is set over four generations in one family in Birmingham and takes in Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, the 1966 World Cup Final, Princess Diana and James Bond, Brexit and Covid. It is a moving and funny novel. But it is also a fascinating account of post-war Britain. Coe is one of the finest anatomists of Britishness, and in Bournville he has succeeded again in vividly capturing the social and cultural elements that underpin our nation. "