Cover image for New Cardiff
New Cardiff
Webb, Charles, 1939-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Washington Square Press, 2002.

Physical Description:
354 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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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 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.

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The author of The Graduate (1963) presents his first novel in 25 years. Fans of Webb's distinctive, insightful style will not be disappointed by this quirky little comedy of manners. Jilted by his lifelong love in an unusually cruel manner, Colin Ware, an English artist with a flare for capturing the unexpected in his portraits, catches the next plane to America. In the grand and dramatic tradition of nineteenth-century literature, he hopes to put physical and emotional distance between himself and the object of his broken heart. Hopping a bus bound for the New England states, he arrives in New Cardiff, Vermont, attracted by the town's primary tourist attraction, a prominent Revolutionary War monument. Once ensconced in the Battlefield Inn, Colin becomes drawn into the eccentricities of village life, establishing relationships with a number of residents, including a disarmingly candid nursing-home assistant. When his ex-fiancee arrives unexpectedly, Colin is faced with making a series of life-altering decisions. Written almost entirely in dialogue, this witty romance will delight discriminating readers. --Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.