>> Sunday, September 09, 2012
TITLE: The Affair of the Mutilated Mink
AUTHOR: James Anderson
In this book, written in 1981, but set in the 20s, a "talkies"-mad Earl is immensely flattered when a movie producer wants to set his latest costume drama in the Earl's country house. The producer (together with the Earl's favourite actor, who's supposed to star in the film) are invited to the house to scope it out. And before the Earl knows it, the whole thing has turned into a house party, with every single room in the massive house in use.
I read the first 120 or so pages. It started out well. The author was clearly having fun with the setting and the characters were nicely quirky. After a while, though, the quirky characters turned cartoonish. The dialogue, especially, started to do my head in. Stilted, exaggerated and (in the case of an Italian character who turns up out of the blue) frankly offensive. I was also annoyed by characters behaving in extremely stupid ways. There's a very confusing scene set in the middle of the night, with characters creeping around and hitting each other, and the next morning, no one says anything to anyone else, even the characters who were doing absolutely nothing wrong (and who no one would have thought were doing something wrong).
I just couldn't be arsed to continue.
MY GRADE: A DNF.
TITLE: Hope and Glory: The Days That Made Britain
AUTHOR: Stuart Maconie
The premise of Hope and Glory is Maconie setting up to explore the places and people related to events that made Britain into what it is today, one for each decade of the 20th century. He visits the spot where each of those significant events took place, and tells us about it all, with a generous helping of his own views and opinions in the commentary.
It was an entertaining, enjoyable book to read. I liked the premise, but I wasn't so wedded to it that I minded the frequent detours, especially since they were interesting in themselves. I really enjoy Maconie's writing and humour, and since we're kind of on the same side politically, his inclusion of so many of his own opinions didn't annoy me in the least.
An added bonus was that quite a few of the subjects he covers I didn't know all that much about -for instance, this was the first place I ever heard of Enoch Powell's "Rivers of Blood" speech (well, it's not the first thing people tell you about when you've just emmigrated to this country!). Reading about them here sparked off a bit of further research, which I enjoyed as well.
MY GRADE: A B.