Book Review: Eleven by Mark Watson

Eleven by Mark Watson

This book has a quote on the front “If you loved One Day by David Nicholls, this is for you” [Cosmopolitan]. Guess what? I fell for it. And amazingly, I hadn’t even read One Day at the time (although I owned the book). Meanwhile, I have read, and indeed, loved, One Day, and I therefore was ready to read Eleven. But gee, to fall for a quote like that! How shameful!

The book is a clever story of how one event affects the lives of eleven people in London. It works like this: the main character, a late-night radio host, does not prevent a young boy from being beaten up. The mother of the boy, a restaurant reviewer, is very upset about the beating and writes a crushing review about a restaurant, which makes the owner so angry that he fires the dish washer for a small mistake, after which the dish washer… etc. A wonderful circle of events, that end back at the radio host, Xavier.

Xavier carries most of the book, but, as the reader needs to learn about the chain of events that happen through his neglect, the other ten characters are also given some of the limelight. Some only briefly, others for longer or recurrent periods of time.

The book is an well-flowing read that doesn’t linger but moves forward at some speed. The narrator is omniscient  to such a degree that we sometimes find out things about people in the future. For instance, when Xavier visits a corner shop, we’re told that the shop owner will die in three years’ time, just as a side remark. And there are other moments like this, where the writer wants to let the reader know what will happen even to minor characters.

The book was a fun, reasonably fast read with some serious moments as well. If you did like One Day, (do I dare say it?) you may well enjoy this book too. But if you like clever ideas such as this chain of events, then you’ll be fine anyway.

Rating: 4.5/5

I got this book: bought it in a book store

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 304

First published: 2010

Genre: contemporary fiction


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

14 Responses to Book Review: Eleven by Mark Watson

  1. Melissa V. says:

    Well, my favorite book of 2011 is One Day so how much do I rely on the fact that if I loved One Day I will love this. Sounds interesting enough, but darn comparing it to One Day might be it’s downfall if it isn’t even remotely like it, for me.

  2. I read Eleven recently as well and was quite swept away by it. I have spent a lot of time purposely reading books written by comedians (I find it interesting to see how their comedy does/n’t come out in their writing), but this one is definitely one of the more memorable for me.
    Hopefully he will write another novel in the not too distant future… 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Theotherwatson, so what do you think of Ben Elton? He’s my favorite comedian/author. Yes, I’d love to read more by Mark Watson.

      • Actually, I (somehow) haven’t got around to reading Ben Elton yet, though I do have a couple of his on the shelves. I will probably be reading him very soon, I do like his comedy as well. I suspect I’ll like it when I get to it.

      • Leeswammes says:

        Theotherwatson – Oh, you must read Ben Elton! I love his books, they are very clever and funny, brilliant satires.

  3. I HAVEN’T read One Day (gasp!) although it IS on the top of my wishlist. I love the sort of “butterfly effect” your review put me in mind of on this one, so it will join the others on my wishlist as well!

  4. Amy says:

    This book sounds very clever and interesting. I admit I didn’t care much for One Day but I like the premise of this book very much and I love good humor/funny moments and dialogue in books.

    I’m definitely checking out this book!

  5. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    Sounds like an interesting concept Judith, another addition to the wishlist!

  6. Oops, you did it again, Judith! Another two for the wishlist, this time.

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