After thoroughly enjoying my frist David Lodge book Changing Places, I went ahead and read the other two books in the David Lodge trilogy, Small World and Nice Work. The last book is considered as the best book in the trilogy and I beg to differ.
The characters introduced in the first book are carried over and hence we see familiar charcters – Philip Swallow and Morris Zapp (making a special appearance). This book revolves around Robyn Penrose, a feminist professor at Rummidge and Vic Wilcox, managing director of a manufacturing company. Under a scheme called as Shadow Scheme, Robyn is appointed as a shadow of Vic in which she has to be with him one day a week, watching him work and trying to understand the manfuacturing industry. The book follows the two characters where they witness friction owing to their drastically different principles and opinions. The author shows the weakness that both the characters possess and how both their lives take a twist in the end.
While the book was fast paced and interesting, it lacked the humor that impressed me in Changing Places. There are moments especially when Robyn and Vic fight and argue about their principles, but the witty humor from the first book was sadly missing from the second and the third book. Lodge creates very strong characters in Vic, Robyn, Vic’s wife and Robyn’s partner. You end up feeling sad or happy with the mood of the main characters.
Nice Work was nominated for Booker Prize and it won the Sunday Express Book of the Year in 1989. It was also made into a movie.
Humor is a very difficult to get it right and Lodge did that in his first book. If you have never tried David Lodge, then I recommend starting with Changing Places. For those who read Lodge, please tell me book which you consider his best.