New Cardiff

New Cardiff

2.0 3
by Charles Webb, Charles Webb

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As a discerning reader of nineteenth-century American fiction, Englishman Colin Ware is familiar with the tradition of transcending disastrous love affairs by booking the next ocean liner to Europe. Now that he has experienced the pain and humiliation of heartache firsthand, he decides to try this cure in reverse.
New Cardiff, Vermont, may be an infinitesimal


As a discerning reader of nineteenth-century American fiction, Englishman Colin Ware is familiar with the tradition of transcending disastrous love affairs by booking the next ocean liner to Europe. Now that he has experienced the pain and humiliation of heartache firsthand, he decides to try this cure in reverse.
New Cardiff, Vermont, may be an infinitesimal blot on the rural American landscape, but to Colin it's the ideal place to mend his broken heart. The townsfolk are a quirky, endearing lot, and they welcome the migrating artist into their fold. Colin does his part by capturing his adopted countrymen and women in charcoal and ink. He even discovers love again — with Mandy, an attendant at the Shining Shores nursing home. When Colin's ex arrives to woo him back to her and his native land, he has to choose between his new love and the woman he's known for years.
With its pitch-perfect dialogue, New Cardiff takes readers on the exhilarating cross-cultural odyssey of a man hurtling headlong into life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Nick Hornby The Sunday Times (U.K.) Brilliantly funny...effortlessly delightful.

Time Out (U.K.) Webb's novel quietly enchants, infusing humor and deftly retaining a lightness and simplicity that is eminently refreshing.

In this witty but flyaway comic novel from the author of The Graduate, a sad-sack British artist runs off to America after his fiancée decides to marry someone else. At the book's outset, Colin finds himself in an art-supply store run by a xenophobic elderly couple in the small New England town of New Cardiff. He's just hopped off the bus and decided this is as good a place as any to hide out from life. The book doesn't have much of an agenda beyond setting up situations in which Colin can come into contact with an entertaining assortment of locals. The bulk of the story is told through bemused comic conversations with everyone from the gossipy clerk at his motel to a depressed young woman with whom he becomes involved. While Colin's clumsy attempts to fit in and move on get laughs, it's hard not to hear the sound of spinning wheels by the time the book drifts to a close.
—Chris Barsanti

Publishers Weekly
In his first novel in more than 25 years, the author of The Graduate relies almost exclusively on witty, ironic dialogue to explore a rather tortured romantic triangle. Recently dumped by his girlfriend and believing that the cure for heartache may be travel, young Brit Colin Ware flies to New York and takes a bus north. He has no particular destination in mind, so when he spots a fascinating monument in the town of New Cardiff, Vt., he disembarks. After he spills his guts to the manager of the motel where he is staying, she decides that Colin might make a good match for her friend Mandy Martin, a caregiver at the local rest home who is currently between boyfriends. Colin and Mandy hit it off, and things move along swimmingly until Colin's ex, Vera, hits town to try to reconcile with him after lying about her impending marriage to another man. She does some serious damage to Colin's new relationship when she hunts down Mandy and tells her a series of fibs about Colin's need to return to England. Webb works some serious romantic magic with his dialogue, and the early scenes involving Colin and Mandy have a special chemistry and charm. But Vera emerges as a woefully incomplete character and, as the story progresses, the absence of prose interludes begins to make the steadily tongue-in-cheek dialogue cloying. Webb is a wonderfully playful writer who does a nice job of stretching out a familiar story, but this book comes off as an attractive but flawed cross between an overextended screenplay and an underwritten novel. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Best known for his novel The Graduate, which director Mike Nichols turned into an American movie classic, Webb has lived for many years in England a situation he uses to great advantage in this wonderful romantic comedy. The story begins when British artist Colin Ware (note that these are Webb's own initials) arrives in the small Vermont town of New Cardiff, attracted, he says, by the battlefield monument in its town square. He is running from a failed relationship, having learned of his longtime girlfriend's wedding to another man when an invitation to the ceremony arrived in the mail. In New Cardiff, he meets and falls for Mandy, a vivacious young American who works in a home for older people and who becomes his muse. Then old girlfriend Vera shows up, explaining that there never was another man it was a poor joke cooked up by a jealous younger sister. Colin is not amused, and besides, he is now in love with someone else. At first, Vera succeeds in breaking up the romance, but love prevails. Colin and Mandy end up in the British seaside town of Brighton, where she runs a home for retired bus conductors and he, after a fallow period, is inspired to reignite his artistry. The story, including the narrative exposition, is told almost completely through dialog, and Webb's perfect pitch for speech patterns and patter makes this quick, entertaining piece worth curling up with on a cold winter evening. Highly recommended. Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib. of New York Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author of The Graduate (1963) returns with his first novel in 25 years, a laugh-out-loud love story about a whining Brit who comes to America to mend his broken heart. Colin Ware received a wedding invitation from the woman he had been effectively engaged to-and he was not the groom-to-be. Assuming this was the only way Vera could tell him she was leaving, he immediately embarks for the New World to rid himself of his old life. "I don't know if you're familiar with the tradition in 19th-century American fiction," he tells the proprietors of an art-supply store in New Cardiff, Vermont. "You have love gone wrong, then off the person gets packed to Europe . . . I thought I might try it in reverse." At the New Cardiff motel where he's bunked down, owners Fisher and Joanie are beguiled by his story of betrayal and match him with nursing-home attendant Mandy, a local goofball who moves in with Colin in a matter of hours. Then Vera arrives with the news that it was all an awful joke and now it's time to go home. But Colin's not so sure: Mandy is peachy, and these crazy Americans, whose portraits Colin has been periodically drawing, are just so inspiring. Meanwhile, Webb's play with language is subtly incisive. Consisting almost entirely of slippery-as-an-eel dialogue, his text is spare-you can easily imagine it onstage-but not without depth. The author's wife supplied the pencil portraits Colin is supposed to have drawn, but they merely supplement the word portraits that emerge during the conversations chronicling Colin's adventures. Paranoid, substance-dependent, and given to blurting whatever cliche comes to mind rather than anything appropriate, the Americans are either unfavorablyjuxtaposed with their English counterparts or simply allowed to flounder on their own. The exchanges are often hilarious, and between chuckles we hope that Colin will succeed in finding a happy end for everyone involved. Funny and smart. It seems the post-graduate doldrums are over.

Product Details

Washington Square Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.32(w) x 0.88(h) x 8.42(d)

Meet the Author

Charles Webb is the author of seven other novels, including The Graduate, which was made into a celebrated film. Charles and his wife, Fred, an artist whose illustrations highlight New Cardiff, live in England.

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New Cardiff 2.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
'New Cardiff' was a quick but enjoyable read. I liked the technique of using mostly dialogue instead of narrative. the characters were funny and charming and totally believable. I can't wait to see the film version starring Colin Firth and Minnie Driver!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading how brilliantly funny this book was supposed to be, I purchased it. What a mistake! The noun 'rubbish' springs to mind and the book, a sheer waste of money. How it got published is beyond me.I deserve a refund.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. I liked the style in which this book was written. The dialogue is funny and witty. I like the way the writer uses dialogue to progress the story in a steady pace. You won't find paragraphs and paragraphs of description in this book. The author tells a good character driven story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a waste of a premice that is, not exactly promising, but with potential. However, Webb butchers the dialogue, repeating the same doubt that is a component of every character's voice. The characters are weak and the book itself a far cry from what is expected after briefing the cover. Don't read this book!