Eleven

( 1 )

Overview

Xavier Ireland is the assumed name of a radio-show host with a devoted following of listeners riveted by the sleepless loners who call in throughout the night to seek his advice. Off the air, he leads a low-key life of avoiding his neighbors, playing Scrabble, and maintaining an awkward friendship with his cohost, Murray. But his life begins to change when he meets a cleaning lady named Pippa, who becomes a constant, surprisingly necessary presence in his life as he starts facing up to his past and discovering ...

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Eleven: A Novel

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Overview

Xavier Ireland is the assumed name of a radio-show host with a devoted following of listeners riveted by the sleepless loners who call in throughout the night to seek his advice. Off the air, he leads a low-key life of avoiding his neighbors, playing Scrabble, and maintaining an awkward friendship with his cohost, Murray. But his life begins to change when he meets a cleaning lady named Pippa, who becomes a constant, surprisingly necessary presence in his life as he starts facing up to his past and discovering solace and redemption in the most unexpected places. British comedian Mark Watson’s North American debut humorously and poignantly explores life and death, strangers and friends, heartache and comfort, and whether the choices we don’t make affect us just as powerfully as the ones we do.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
British standup comedian Watson's light stateside debut maps the ripple effects of tiny coincidences and everyday actions. Riddled with guilt for his involvement in a traumatic accident, Chris Cotswold leaves Australia for London, assumes the name Xavier Ireland, and immerses himself in other people's problems as a late-night radio host. Though the main objective of his off-air life is to remain all-around uninvolved, when he stumbles upon a boy being bullied one day, his reluctant intervention sets off a chain of events in the lives of several strangers whose stories unfold concurrently. Shortly afterwards, Xavier is coerced by his on-air sidekick, Murray, to attend a speed-dating event, where he meets Pippa, a down-on-her-luck but plucky cleaning lady he hires for a weekly sprucing. Pippa quickly becomes a fixture in Xavier's life and incrementally finds a much more important role that doesn't require a vacuum cleaner. Though the story sometimes bows too much to plot convenience, this touching tale about new beginnings has more than enough heart to win over readers. (May)
From the Publisher
“Funny, sharply observed, and unexpectedly moving… The connections are ingenious and there are some very dark undertones, admirably handled.” —The Times (London)

“A moving story with a twist about how our lives touch others in ways we don't even realise. If you loved One Day by David Nicholls, this is for you—and will stay with you long after the last page.” —Cosmopolitan (UK)

“A richly comic but intuitive novel. . . both funny and touching.”—The Bookseller (UK)

"Smoothly written, Watson's latest novel proves he has a gift for tender prose and emotive storytelling... an intelligent, witty and heartwarming tale with a significant message — and his most accomplished book to date"—Time Out (London)

"There are eleven good reasons to read this fine, funny, classy book – and those are just three. You'll find the others for yourself..."—Danny Wallace, author of Yes Man

"A seriously good book by a very funny man"—Metro (UK)

“Brilliantly hilarious and hilariously brilliant.”—Stephen Fry

“I hugely recommend. Gentle, compassionate, unusual, and thought-provoking. Expected a fun read and got something better.” —Chris Cleave, author of "Little Bee"

"The ghost of Hugh Grant lurks within the pages of this novel, a pleasing London-set romantic comedy complete with a cast of quirky supporting characters."—The New York Times

Library Journal
Xavier Ireland is a young London DJ whose late-night radio talk show often attracts an eclectic mix of night owls and lonely, sleep-deprived souls. On the air, Xavier is quick to dish out practical advice to his callers. In his personal life, however, Xavier lives a depressing existence, spending time only with his awkward cohost and friend, Murray, and interfering in other peoples' lives as little as possible. That changes when one day fate drops Pippa, a vivacious and ferociously driven cleaning lady, into his lap. As the relationship between Xavier and Pippa develops, Xavier learns how to live again and in the process finds out that small actions done with great kindness can indeed change the world. VERDICT While mildly humorous at times, British stand-up comedian Watson's (A Light-Hearted Look at Murder) style does not always translate well to the page. Fans of Nick Hornby's works may be attracted but disappointed with the story's lack of originality, somewhat disjointed plot, and dizzying array of characters.—Amy M. Handley, Kent State Univ., Columbus, OH
Kirkus Reviews - Kikus Reviews

A heartwarming, humorous fable of a novel about the redemption of a popular radio talk-show host through his unlikely romance with a cleaning lady.

In his first novel published in the United States, British radio and TV personality Watson writes of the awakening of a man who is very much connected to his airwave audience but does his (unconscious) best to remain disconnected from the rest of mankind. The name he has taken since moving from Australia to London is Xavier Ireland, mainly because the initials form the Roman numeral equivalent of his favorite number (the titularEleven,which has 11 chapters and details the links among 11 otherwise random lives). His only real contacts other than the disembodied voices on the airwaves—a lonely lot, looking to him for advice or at least companionship—are his radio sidekick Murray and his fellow competitors in a weekly Scrabble tournament. Murray wants Xavier's company at a speed-dating session, where Xavier meets Pippa, who becomes his cleaning lady. As the blunt-talking Pippa assumes an importance in his life that Xavier never anticipated, he revisits the shameful incident that forced him to leave Australia and forge a new identity in England.And he discovers that "every person is connected to every other...everything has a chance of mattering."

Though the novel belabors the "eleven" motif and its breezy prose has trouble supporting its heavier philosophizing, it will resonate with those who like to read about professionals looking for love and meaning in their lives.

Kirkus Reviews

A heartwarming, humorous fable of a novel about the redemption of a popular radio talk-show host through his unlikely romance with a cleaning lady.

In his first novel published in the United States, British radio and TV personality Watson writes of the awakening of a man who is very much connected to his airwave audience but does his (unconscious) best to remain disconnected from the rest of mankind. The name he has taken since moving from Australia to London is Xavier Ireland, mainly because the initials form the Roman numeral equivalent of his favorite number (the titularEleven,which has 11 chapters and details the links among 11 otherwise random lives). His only real contacts other than the disembodied voices on the airwaves—a lonely lot, looking to him for advice or at least companionship—are his radio sidekick Murray and his fellow competitors in a weekly Scrabble tournament. Murray wants Xavier's company at a speed-dating session, where Xavier meets Pippa, who becomes his cleaning lady. As the blunt-talking Pippa assumes an importance in his life that Xavier never anticipated, he revisits the shameful incident that forced him to leave Australia and forge a new identity in England.And he discovers that "every person is connected to every other...everything has a chance of mattering."

Though the novel belabors the "eleven" motif and its breezy prose has trouble supporting its heavier philosophizing, it will resonate with those who like to read about professionals looking for love and meaning in their lives.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451606782
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 5/17/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Watson is one of Britain’s most popular young stand-up comedians. His comedy shows have won, among others, the Daily Telegraph Award, Time Out Best Stand-Up Award, Edinburgh Festival Panel Prize, and best shows at the Adelaide and Sydney Festivals. He has performed at every major international comedy festival and in more than twenty countries. He made comedy history at the Edinburgh Festival by performing for 24 hours, solo and without a break. He is a regular on many British TV shows and has his own highly successful BBC Radio 4 series, Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better. He is the author of the novels Bullet Points and A Light-Hearted Look at Murder, and the non-fiction title Crap at the Environment. Mark Watson lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted August 12, 2011

    Great Read

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