The Spoiler by Annalena McAfee

80%

15 Critic Reviews

McAfee writes with sparkling intelligence and raises serious issues about the relationship between reporting and truth.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

A dark hyper-comedy set in London in the late 1990s during the last gasp of the newspaper wars just before the dot-com tidal wave--about two female journalists at opposite ends of their life and work who become locked in a fierce tango of wills and whose lives are forever changed by their (not-so-) brief (head-on) encounter.

At the novel's center--a legendary prize-winning war correspondent (called in her day "The Newsroom Dietrich" because of her luminescent beauty) now in her eighties, at the end of her career, who, over the decades, as the intrepid golden girl of the press, has been on the front lines or in the foxholes of every major theater of war of the twentieth century (Madrid; Normandy; Buchenwald; Berlin; Algiers; Korea; Vietnam). She is recognized everywhere (she finds fame mortifying these days); lionized for her fearless, politically informed, objective reporting; and now, though fragile and in an accelerating decline, her goddess-like beauty long gone, her style of writing--unbiased reportage--obsolete in the age of New Journalism, is rediscovered with the reissue of her frontline journalism, and the about-to-be-published collection of her Pulitzer Prize-winning dispatches. The other, a young up-and-not-so-coming reporter in her twenties; a degree in media studies, a freelance editor who compiles A-lists (Ten Best / Ten Worst; What's In / What's Out) for a down-market magazine of a newspaper specializing in celebrity gossip, unexpectedly sent to write a feature on the venerated "doyenne of British journalists"--to get the dirt on her glittering Hollywood days, her many affairs and three marriages...What ensues is a high-stakes, high-risk battle of wit and wills as lives are shaken, secrets unearthed, and headlines blast (unconfirmed) "truths," with one newspaper--the spoiler--playing off against another in a ruthless, desperate grab for sensation and circulation.
 

About Annalena McAfee

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ANNALENA MCAFEE was born in London and was educated at Essex University. McAfee has edited a collection of literary profiles, Lives and Works, and is the author of eight children's books. She has been a judge of the Orange Prize for Fiction, the South Bank Show Awards, and the Ben Pimlott Prize for political writing. She lives in London with her husband, the writer Ian McEwan.
 
Published April 10, 2012 by Vintage. 306 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Spoiler
All: 15 | Positive: 12 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Apr 15 2012

McAfee writes with sparkling intelligence and raises serious issues about the relationship between reporting and truth.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on May 28 2012

In the early pages of this novel Ms. McAfee struggles to find a tone and a voice. And her narrative lurches between broad farce and more witty humor, between straight-up satire and more sympathetic portrayals of her heroines’ travails...

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Alex Clark on Apr 22 2012

A witty and entertaining debut about two very different worlds of journalism

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Peter Kelton on May 29 2012

Well, Examiner suggests you’ve been exposed enough – the novel is recommended.

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Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by Lucy Kellaway on Apr 17 2012

Although each detail on its own is sharp and funny, there are too many of them. At nearly half the length, this portrait of (nearly) contemporary journalism would have been just right.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Leah Greenblatt on Apr 13 2012

But the often telegraphed plot turns are secondary to the author's synapse-crackling prose: spiky, vivid, and almost pathologically clever

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Anne Sebba on Apr 22 2012

Helena Masters has created a brilliantly original and evocative image which sets just the right tone for this satiric indictment of the cliché-heavy, intrusive nature of much modern journalism, and the pain and havoc it wreaks.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by VIv Groskop on Apr 10 2012

The Spoiler is a clever, literary romp with flashes of Nancy Mitford and Helen Fielding.

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The Bookbag

Below average
Reviewed by The Bookbag on Apr 10 2012

I didn't find any of the characters real enough, and the portrayal of the media world was intriguing but McAfee's satire wasn't sufficiently sustained.

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Mail Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Laura Silverman on Apr 14 2012

A former editor at the Guardian and the Evening Standard, McAfee has chosen journalism as the battleground of this sparky tragicomedy. She writes with the assured intimacy of an insider.

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London Evening Standard

Excellent
Reviewed by Sarah Sands on Mar 31 2012

It may sound a bit Tamara Sim to applaud McAfee for emerging from her husband's shadow, but this is a strikingly entertaining and accomplished novel and I hope we don't have to wait long for the next one.

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Islington Tribute

Excellent
Reviewed by Peter Gruner on Apr 28 2012

Although The Spoiler is a fictional comedy about journalists in the late 1990s – before the widespread use of mobile phones – the scene has resonances with today’s stories of newspaper celebrity phone tapping.

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Reading Matters

Good
Reviewed by kimbofo on Jun 01 2012

The Spoiler is a rather witty satire on the world of journalism, and the comparisons to Evelyn Waugh's Scoop and Michael Frayn's Towards the End of the Morning are appropriate -- with one tiny exception: it's lovely to have females in the lead roles for a change!

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Frogen Yozurt

Good
Reviewed by Editor on Apr 26 2012

An intelligent novel about the gap in journalism.

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Kevin from Canada

Good
Reviewed by Kevin on Jun 05 2012

What makes The Spoiler special, however, is her understanding of the “other” side, the persecuted subject.

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Reader Rating for The Spoiler
59%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 23 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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