Myles’ Shelf-Talker: “Brother of the More Famous Jack,” Barbara Trapido

brother of the more famous jack

Elizabeth Gilbert brought this underrated classic on The Book Club a few weeks ago, and we’re hard pressed to think of a better recommendation. First published in 1982, Brother of the More Famous Jack follows eighteen-year-old Katherine as she becomes tangled up in the affairs of her philosophy professor’s bohemian family. Written with breezy elegance, Trapido’s forte is the intricate conversations that unfold between her fascinating cast of characters: each one of them immensely flawed, and yet impossible not to like. The early scenes in provincial England read like a modern update on the social comedies of Jane Austen (with the notable addition of some terrifically funny sex scenes) and as Trapido steers Katherine through the trials of early adult life, she adds a dimension of quiet tragedy to this otherwise buoyant tale. Compassionate and dazzlingly clever, this is the rare debut novel that succeeds in capturing the innocence and vitality of youth in a way that is sophisticated and mature.

-Myles

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