Cover Image: Mr Wilder and Me

Mr Wilder and Me

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Member Reviews

I received an ARC of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am grateful for the opportunity. 

The essence of the tale is a sort of Bio-novel about the work of Billy wilder and more particularly the filming and development of his film"Fedora". It is told through the eyes of a woman who, as a girl, had been hired as interpreter for the film.

The problem for me is the then and the now appear to have nothing to connect them - Why is she suddenly reminiscing in this way - any connection is tenuous int he least and seems to be simply because our narrator's children are a similar age to herself at the time of filming. I struggled to work out why any of the current events were indeed necessary.

The whole thing lacked something to bring the times and places to life. It needed much more characterisation, instead it just felt dreadfully dull
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Beautifully written and impeccably researched. "Mr Wilder and Me" whisked me from a cold, rainy Dublin to Hollywood, Greece and other glamourous locations, a much needed journey in this Covid year! A fascinating story
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Enjoyable read. I love Billy Wilder already so was keen to read this as soon as I heard about it. Was the perfect tonic for current times when we cannot travel!
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I've always been a fan of Jonathan Coe and this book doesn't disappoint! Loved the setting, loved the characters, and the storyline had me hooked from the first page.
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Travelling across the USA in the mid 70s, Calista is introduced to the Hollywood director Billy Wilder and his partner Mr Diamond. When their latest film project locates to her native Greece, Calista is employed as an interpreter. She then follows the filming across Europe, acting as personal assistant to the pair. 

Mr Wilder and Me is an interesting insight into the film era of Billy Wilder and IAL Diamond. At times, it did drag a little, but overall it was a good read. Told mostly in flashback, as Calista struggles with her family life and the lack of direction for her work. Written in the first person, it’s a slow paced book, moving across Europe during the filming of Fedora, one of Wilder’s last films,

A gentle story, not a major blockbuster, but still worth a read.
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I'm afraid that this one just didn't work for me, which was a massive surprise given that I'm a huge fan of both Billy Wilder's films and Jonathan Coe's novels. My main issue with the book is that it just didn't seem to go anywhere. Obviously, Coe chose this story for a reason, but even after finishing the book I have no idea what it was. It was also incredibly pretentious at times - for example, approximately 15 of the book's 270-ish pages were given over to the subject of brie (very cheesy), and there was the occasional use of French words and phrases that I was unable to translate. All in all, a frustrating book, with no apparent purpose
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Coe's novels are always well written but vary dramatically in subject matter. This is a short, fun novel about a girl who meets Billy Wilder by chance and ends up working on one of his last films. I really liked the main character, and it gives an interesting glimpse in to Wilder, who I didn't really know much about other than that he directed one of my favourite films, and the glamour of the film industry at the time.
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Whilst this is well written I just didn't feel that I could get in to the story and eventually gave up halfway through, not something that I do very often.
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I really enjoyed the cinematic setting! Loved how it mixes true people with an invented story. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a digital copy of the book!
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Callista's voice grabs you right from start as we track her career frim guest meeting Billy Wolder, legendary  film maker (and it doesn't matter of v you don't know him in the 'real'world although the added frisson if you do know him makes this novel into a splendid meta-fiction. Sharp dialogue and satisfying encounters between an innocent young woman and older film director .. almost mythic ... and his cohorts make this utterly readable. The  whole Hollywood experience seems underpinned  by failures of recognition and hubris accompanied with a comic melancholy.  Really enjoyable read.
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Because of the timing of the books’ release, I couldn’t help but think of this as derivative of A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson: a woman looks back at a golden summer spent in Greece in the orbit of a famous man (Leonard Cohen there; Billy Wilder here). I’m a Wilder fan, but had never heard of the film he was making in 1977, Fedora, and didn’t know any details of his personal life. I found the overall plot a little lite, particularly the framing story about Calista in the present day, and was thinking I’d give 3 stars, but my opinion shot up all because of a 50-page sequence modeled on a film script (with scene directions, voice overs, etc.) in which Calista records Billy’s experiences in Europe before and after the Second World War, making a documentary on the concentration camps. I also liked the detail of Al Pacino ordering a cheeseburger wherever he goes, even if it’s not on the menu. (3.75 stars)
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A beautifully written treat for cinophiles and for those who love stories about/set in that world.
Thank you to Netgalley for ARC in exchange for review.
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Back when she was in her early 20s Calista met Billy Wilder, the Hollywood Film Director - this is the story of what happened.
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As a big fan of Jonathan Coe, the premise of Mr Wilder and Me appealed to me - and I wasn’t disappointed. The story focuses on the narrator looking back at her life - and how she met Billy Wilder, fortuitously, when travelling with a friend in California.

The novel explores how a relationship can develop in unexpected ways. The narrator ends up working with Mr Wilder as a translator and assistant - and she travels with the crew to Greece, then to Germany and onto France. Aside from being immersed in the stories of her youth, readers learn about her current life - as a mother, wife and music composer in London.

Much of this book is based on truth which gives it an interesting slant. Despite the story being well-written and thought-provoking, I found it a little pedestrian and lacking in some ways - but maybe my views are influenced by Coe’s last novel, which I loved: Middle England. 

This is a good read - and probably particularly interesting for readers who are film buffs and those who are fans of Billy Wilder.
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Mr Wilder and Me - Jonathan Coe
Publishers Penguin
Publication date  5/11/20

An enjoyable well written and original read. Not as savagely funny as the authors previous works, but some great lines which made me chuckle. I had heard of Billy Wilder but knew little of him. What I learned from this book I found extremely interesting and, at times, very moving particularly the references to the Holocaust. 

Thanks to the author, publishers and NetGalley for this advance digital copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion opinion.
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Really enjoyable book particularly for people interested in film and film history. Although not a true story it’s links to the truth we’re fascinatingly executed.
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Mr Wilder and Me is a novel that takes real people and events and brings them to life with the addition of the authors imagination. Billy Wilder and most of the main characters are real and this is the story of the production of one of his last movies Fedora told through the eyes of Calista Frangopoulou, a young Greek girl he encounters while she is backpacking around America in the 1970's.
Calista is the product of Jonathan Coe's imagination, based on an assistant who worked on Fedora with Wilder. 
We  are introduced to Calista as she reminisces about events in 2013 when she is 60 and has family issues with her two daughters. Her memories of her life and the people in it help her to come to a decision regarding her family.

This is a beautifully written story that captures the essence of the 70's but also how World War II affected so many people. A great read.

I was given a copy of Mr Wilder and Me by Netgalley and the publishers in return for an unbiased review.
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For young Calista a chance meeting during a tour of the US in the 1970s leads to a friendship that changes her life.  Calista is invited to dinner by a travelling companion and meets Hollywood legend Billy Wilder.  Ignorant at first, she is hired to work on Wilder's comeback film, Fedora, financed by German money.  This is difficult for Wilder as it brings back memories of escape from the Nazis and his desperate search for his family.  The naive Calista and the world-weary Wilder both reach conclusions about their lives.
I loved this short and sharp novel.  The only bits that grated were the modern-day parts which never really evolved but the rest is sublime.  A fading Hollywood star director is frustrated by the way cinema has evolved into crowd-pleasing violence, the bit about Sharks In Venice is hilarious.  An innocent abroad finally realises her vocation even as her heart is broken.  the two bond over brie.  Its Coe at his finest, the sly humour, the pathos etc.
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Set in the late seventies this novel novel mixes fact and fiction. It 
revolves around the production of Billy Wilder’s film Fedora  and combines  an imaginary central character, Calista, half Greek, half English with the true story of film director Wilder at a time when he is being rebuffed by Hollywood. 

Calista, an interpreter meets Wilder by accident and becomes part of the company filming Fedora.
Calista recognises that Wilder is haunted by his past. She travels with him to Munich to film scenes in a movie based on Nazi atrocities. Wilder, an Austrian Jew, who fled Europe before the war, has no idea what happened to his mother.

The novel is about so much: fame, family, nostalgia, the sadness of ageing the way post WW2 film makers regarded film as an escape from reality,
the urge to create and the highs and lows of working in creative professions, how the personal can impact the professional, how status and wealth cannot always protect.

Well researched, a fascinating portrait of the personal and the professional Wilder. Engrossing.
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I love Jonathan Coe's books and would read anything he writes.  I did enjoy this too - writing-wise certainly, although I did feel it sort of petered out a bit at the end, plot-wise, and that there was no real point to the narrator's family story in the present.  Also I wasn't keen on the section written as script, it seemed a bit of an unnecessary pretension.  However, I loved how different a book it is, and the fact that so much of it is based on real people and events.  Overall I would certainly recommend it.
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