Cover Image: History

History

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Member Reviews

I love Miles Jupp's comedy and came to this book with very high expectations - thanks to NetGalley and Headline for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

The story is about Clive Hapgood, a History teacher in a small private school.  He is having a tough time both at school and in his family life, so a trip to France at half term looks to be the answer to all his problems.  However, an incident at school refuses to be forgotten and Clive's life starts to unravel.

The blurb and suggested a kind of humorous and satirical public school story in the vein of Evelyn Waugh's 'Decline and Fall'.  It started promisingly in this style - I loved the slightly louche school chaplain and the characterisation of the teachers and enjoyed the humorous set-pieces at the beginning of the novel.  As a teacher in exactly the kind of school Jupp is writing about, I  felt that there was a certain truth in some of the characters and situations in the novel.  Bits of it are really very funny indeed and I settled in to enjoy the comic story.

However, the novel soon shifts to Clive's family situation - his spiky wife and two daughters.  While there were some relatable and funny bits during the trip to France (the hypermarche trips, the paddling pool, the endless bread and cheese...), this is really where the tragedy of the story lies.  His marriage is difficult, although I could never really decide whether that was due to Clive's ineptness (as his wife suggested) or the wife's quite unpleasant nature.  It's fair to say that I didn't warm to Helen, the wife, even as I recognised that she was slightly long-suffering, and this felt wrong in the context of the novel.

I can't even talk about the ending.  It wasn't at all what I expected or hoped for and felt very abrupt.

Overall, this was a mixed bag for me.  Lots of it I loved and I did enjoy reading it, hence the 3.5 stars (rounded to 4).  However, it felt a bit uneven and ultimately unclear whether it was a comic novel or something much more bleak.  The comic bits were really very funny and the school bits engaging, plus the parenting situations relatable - I just wish Jupp had kept his focus on these elements more.
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History follows history teacher Clive as his he tries to navigate through a job he's not entirely satisfied in and to keep his marriage from teetering over the brink.

I read this because I enjoy Miles Jupp's work as a comedian. It was entertaining enough and I enjoyed Jupp's observational insights into the working life. I'm not a teacher but we can all recognise colleagues, past or present in the staff at Clive's school. I did, perhaps mistakenly, expect this to be funnier than it was, though the holiday in France was the standout of the novel for me in this regard. In the end, the book didn't quite land for me, I found it lacking in any real structure as the first part of it dragged a little and then the ending was just a little disappointing.
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Clive Hapgood is a history teacher in a minor public school. The book is really a character study of Clive, a decent, well-meaning but unhappy and rather hapless man on whom life’s difficulties keep piling. The plot is largely a series of his frustrations, embarrassments and humiliations as things in his professional and family life keep going wrong.

This was an enjoyable read by Miles Jupp. It told the story of a teacher at a boarding school who realises that being a teacher, and life more widely, wasn't quite working out as he had hoped. This is an easy, quick read, one that grabs your attention due to the author but not one that stays on your mind or makes you want to discuss in length with others.

The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
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Clive is “a man on the edge” working in a third rate public school that consumes all his time and a marriage that has seen more passion filled days. 
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So, this is a lighthearted comedic tale of middle England woahs. I was asking myself who this book is aimed at and I think it might be the people who chuckle at Radio 4 comedy shows. I have to admit I might lean into that demographic very occasionally. 
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Jupp’s ability to write a comedic set piece is excellent. The frustration of buying paper towels in a Spar has honestly never been funnier. These scenes had me skipping through the novel nicely. 
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On the downside the tweeness of the novel was a buzzing annoyance I couldn’t quite shake. There’s an entire scene about cricket that I could barely bring myself to care about. It’s just a personal taste thing. I’m sure cricket fans will love it. 
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Overall I enjoyed this as a lighthearted character study. I’ve been reading a lot of emotional novels recently so it was nice to mix in some lighthearted comedic writing. [MILD SPOILER] The very last beat of the novel, therefore, left me a bit puzzled. I got the impression that we were meant to think Clive was a hero for that final decision he made but I thought it was pretty horrible and didn’t fit at all the character I’d just got to know.
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I like Miles Jupp esp as Archie the inventor from Balamory.  I was interested when i saw that that he had written a fiction book, having high hopes but fearing that he couldnt match the heady success of Richard Osman with his Thursday Club Murders. The premise of Hostory is a little suburban, Clive Hapgood as a history teacher will never set the world on fire, Teaching in a private school in Wiltshire, both he and his wife had felt that this move to the countryside and a private school was the answer to their problems.  Clive is feeling disalusioned  and feels that the world is against him, you can only cringe at the embarrassing and humiliating things that happen to him at school, the scrapes that he gets himself into,  are all of his own doing. 

His wife has little sympathy for him, and his domestic life is on the same track as his professional life.  The book has some funny moments, and whilst you feel sorry for Clive you hope that he can pull his life round.  This book wont set the world on fire, and i suspect it will sell better in paperback as i think the price tag is too high and priced on the basis of Miles Jupps name.
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I was pleased to read a book written by one of my favourite comedians and I was not disappointed. I enjoyed reading about the exploits of the hero, Clive Hapgood. He is decent and well meaning but things never quite go as planned for him.

The book details in a witty and well written manner of all his exploits and how they never quite turn out as expected.

It was well done and I enjoyed it but it will not live too long in the memory.
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This was a harder going read than expected about a history teacher at a private school who is struggling both in his professional and personal life. Clive has been teaching a number of years now, initially at a state school but struggling financially he moved to a private school a number of years back but now he is disenchanted with work and his frustration is spilling over into home life causing tension in his marriage. I expected this to be a lighter hearted read, it is very perceptive in terms of Clive’s gradual decline and there was some wry humour but it lacked the laugh out loud moments that would have lifted it from the overall negative mental mindset Clive possessed.
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A good book (though slightly overlong and could have done with some editing I felt to make it shorter and tighter story wise).
It  is hard at time as the main character Clive you feel both sympathy for and yet at other times you just feel he is making his own bed and needs to lie in it.
I think ta times it is hard to feel sympathy for him which ends up being a problem as you just feel he is hapless and a weak character who gets walked all over by others. 
Overall a good read but overlong and at times you stop having sympathy for the main character which makes it at times harder to read.
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Clive Hopgood teaches at a private school and is not happy with his life, either at the school or at home with his wife and two children. 

Miles Jupp uses his comedic talent to good use throughout, although some of set pieces you can see coming. The family holiday to France is a particularly entertaining part of the novel. 

It would make for a good TV adaptation especially given some of the comedic set pieces. 

As for the main character Clive at times you feel empathy for him and other times you think he reaps what he sows! 

In academic terms a sound effort with some room for improvement. C-
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Clive Hapgood, history teacher. 

Life's not going very well. The private boys' school is a nightmare, no thanks to the ghastly headteacher. Home life not great either, thanks to school.

Clive needs a holiday.....and of course that doesn't end well either
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I like Miles Jupp’s work as a comedian very much, but I didn’t enjoy History nearly as much as I expected to.  This is partly because it isn’t what I expected, but I think the book does have weaknesses, too.

Clive Hapgood is a history teacher in a minor public school.  The book is really a character study of Clive, a decent, well-meaning but unhappy and rather hapless man on whom life’s difficulties keep piling.  The plot is largely a series of his frustrations, embarrassments and humiliations as things in his professional and family life keep going wrong.

In some ways it’s decently done; Jupp writes well and has a penetrating eye for Clive’s lack of self-awareness, the petty annoyances of life, the sort of vacuous blether many of us have to put up with from managers with little experience of the job people actually do and the way in which a seemingly sound marriage can go wrong.  The thing is, I don’t find awkwardness and embarrassment funny, so the book was actually rather a depressing read for me.  By half way I was hoping for some sort of a change and possible beginning of redemption, but it’s more of the same almost throughout.  For me, this was a flawed structure and I struggled and eventually skimmed my way through the second half.

I’m sorry to say this of an author whom I like very much as a comedian, but I can’t recommend History.  It has its merits and others may enjoy it but I’m afraid I didn’t.

(My thanks to Headline for an ARC via NetGalley.)
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History is an enjoyable and often amusing story about teacher Clive Hapgood who seems to destroy his personal and professional life at every twist and turn. 

I thought Miles Jupp’s narrative was convincing and I could well imagine him playing the lead role in an adaptation. As a former teacher, I could completely identify with how the profession puts incredible stress on staff whether in private or state sector. 

Overall, an enjoyable read (even if it did give me flashbacks to difficult parents and deceitful heads of department). In some ways I agree with the comparison with David Nicholls although the story lacked some of the breadth and depth that you would find in his stories, the characterisation was certainly comparable.
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This debut novel by the comedian Miles Jupp - a familiar face/voice from various comedy panel shows - is all about the much put-upon history teacher Clive Hapgood.  It's set in the late 1990s, in an era just before widespread mobile phones and internet.  Clive teaches at a private boarding school for boys in a small, leafy town somewhere between Newbury and Swindon.  Despite being apparently more desirable than teaching in an underfunded state school, the nature of the school means evenings and weekends are consumed by on-site duties, which Clive is ineffective at declining.  This leads to increasing conflict with his wife and two daughters.  Clive is profoundly unhappy, but seems unable to find a realistic way out of his difficulties, and instead digs himself further and further into trouble.

I found Clive a sympathetic character - maybe more sympathetic than the author intended him to be, or than the other characters seemed to find him.  He was someone who did his best and helped out others, and the gripes and frustrations he raised throughout the book seemed entirely reasonable.  He didn't always deal with his frustrations in the most sensible way, but likewise he didn't do anything that a reasonable person might not - no one is saint who remains in perfect emotional control all the time.  I was surprised by how little slack he was cut by those who knew him, particularly is his wife, who seemed to simultaneously want him to get promoted and be more 'successful' whilst resenting the time he spent at work trying to do so.  

The humour is there throughout, as you'd expect in a book by someone primarily known as a comedian.  But it is of the uncomfortable, wince-inducing kind, so if that's not your cup of tea you might not enjoy the read.  I fall somewhere in between - at times I felt the humour outweighed the cringe, and other times I just wanted to stop reading as the hapless Mr Hapgood suffered yet another indignity.  

Underlying the story are some more serious themes, about how you define contentment in life and what you should tolerate, and about the role of private education in society.  One of Clive's main problems was his rising disillusion with - and contempt of - the very system in which he worked (and had been educated himself).  I personally agreed with his views, although others won't - this is a subject that always divides people.  I don't know much about private education and this probably plays to the worst of my prejudices about it.  I think it's safe to say it's a skewed view for the purposes of the novel and I wouldn't want to assume it was typical or true of every fee-paying school.  In fact, I'm certain it wouldn't be - what I don't know is what proportion it would be.  Certainly the sense of entitlement that so frustrates Clive is something I have seen in privately educated people - but whether that is a reason to hate the whole concept, or rather a condemnation of the lack of self-esteem instilled by the state sector, is harder to say.

Overall it's a readable story and if you enjoy slightly cringy humour and 'comedy of errors' style set-ups you'll like it.  I would read another by Jupp if the premise sounded interesting.
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This was slightly different to my usual style of books, most likely because it was written from the male point of view, but I really enjoyed the story. The characters were realistic (some were likeable and some were purposefully not at all likeable!) and Miles Jupp was skillful in the way he navigated the story of their lives and how humdrum they can become. I was pleased to see the main character grow in strength and be brave at the end. It was a good read.
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My thanks to NetGalley and Headline for a copy of “ History “ for an honest review.

I’m an admirer of Miles Jupp and his wry comedy. he never fails to make me laugh ( especially when I hear him laughing ) , but with this book he’s nearly made me cry ,that’s not to say the book is without humour .
Wrong ,I know , but before I started reading this ,I’d read other negative reviews so I was expecting to be disappointed by the book.Luckily this wasn’t the case. I was hooked from the beginning, and felt real empathy for the character of Clive.He is at heart a good man, trying to do his best , but life keeps getting in the way..
I found this novel to be well written and have really interesting , believable characters.
I’d love to read what happens to Clive next !
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The year is 1998 and Clive Hapgood is an overworked History teacher in a small public school in this debut novel from the talented comedian and actor, Miles Jupp. 
Clive is 38, but looks older, his hair greying and a bald patch was developing after years of struggle to juggle the demands of a school which takes advantage of him and his home life dominated by his wife and two young daughters. 
Jupp is a good writer and creates a vivid portrait of both the minutiae of Clive's desperately overburdened existence at Frampton School and the horrors of a family holiday in Nornandy.
Already a proven talent in other fields, Jupp proves his authorial credentials in a novel which contains some similarities to Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim.
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Clive is a history teacher in a private school in rural England. Zzzzz. He finds teaching dull, some of his colleagues irritating, and some of his pupils smug and entitled. A series of mishaps pile up the pressure he faces. As a result, he bristles with anger, which occasionally boils over, causing problems both at home and at work. 

So far so dull. I tried and tried but could not find anything to engage me in this. The characters are dull people in a dull setting, and for long sections the plot is ponderously slow. At times, the dull mechanics of everyday life are spelled out at length; the intention is surely to show us Clive's boredom with life, but the effect is to weigh the narrative down with yet more dullness.

The only redeeming feature is Miles Jupp's wry humour, sprinkled liberally throughout. But fans of his work on radio and TV - among whom I include myself - won't find this nearly as funny as In and Out of the Kitchen, or his time as host of The News Quiz. 

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Many thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing an advance review copy, in return for an honest review.
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Clive Hapgood is feeling stuck. The private school he teaches at is consuming his life, no thanks to wretched headteacher Julian Crouch. The gentle country life Clive envisaged has stifled him and left his marriage on the brink. What he needs is a holiday - something to remind him and Helen what life used to be like. But when things don't go to plan, and an incident at school begins to weigh heavy on his head, Clive's life starts to unravel in front of him. Has he got it in him to turn things around, whatever the cost? After all, it's his own time he's wasting...Unfortunately, this didn’t really click with me! I found I had some issues with the pacing of this novel and I wasn’t really invested in the narrative or any of the characters. I still think it was enjoyable and easy to read and the use of the story within a story is clever, but it did leave me wanting.
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This was an enjoyable read from Miles Jupp. It told the story of a teacher at a boarding school who realises that being a teacher, and life more widely, wasn't quite working out as he had hoped.

The main character, Clive, was a figure who at times I felt sympathy for, but at other times frustration. He often had good intentions but his inability to stand up for himself or his failure to communicate with his family often got in the way. If he were to write his own school report, Clive would probably say of himself "could do better". A readable book.
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I am sorry to say that I didn't really find this novel fiendishly funny. For me it was quite a detailed portrayal of one man stuck in a life he hates and can't escape. If anything I would compare it to Death of a Salesman. If instead of a salesman, Willy was a private school history teacher. 
If I'm honest it wasn't really my cup of tea and I have to admit that it dragged at times. Perhaps my age and gender are to blame as I'm not a middle aged man but I really couldn't warm to this story.
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