Expo 58 - Jonathan Coe

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, thank you!


Having a Belgian mother and a father who used to own a pub, Tom Foley is selected to leave his boring desk job at the Central Office of Information to keep an eye on The Brittania, part of the British pavilion for the '58 World Expo in Brussels (famous for the Atomium, not the pub however). It's also the height of the Cold World War, and the Expo doesn't only bring the people closer together, but also the front...


I once visited a World Expo (the one in Hannover in 2000; I was seven at that time, and it was immense! I also didn't speak any English at that time (nor German) which made it all seem even weirder). Therefore, I liked that this book was about a World Expo, the Atomium one of Brussel's most famous landmarks and there is a chocolateflavour especially designed to commemorate the Expo: Cote d'or Dessert '58. Besides I go to college in Leuven, which is mentioned several times in the book.


These things easily added to my reading experiences and added an extra star to the book for me. The story itself felt quite flat mostly. I never felt like I really wanted to know what would happen next. I read on dutifully, but the story didn't come alive for me. The writing was okay, but nothing special and a bit forgettable. Except for Thomas, who just seems to be quite unhappy, the characters don't really have depth either, making this a forgettable read.


In ended up telling one of my friends "Oh, look, they've mentioned Aarschot (a city in Belgium)", but when she asked if I would recommend this book to her, I had to be honest and tell her that it was actually quite boring. unfortunately.