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by A.A. Milne
Cricket, sailing, falling in love. A house party of cheerful Bright Young Things bubbles its way through a delightful set of short episodes.
Yes, The Holiday Round was written by the man who wrote the Winnie-the-Pooh books. Except this isn’t Pooh (though I like Pooh, especially read by Alan Bennett, who just gets Eeyore).
It’s Milne for grown-ups. Written for Punch in the early 1920s, these short stories are a long delightful burble of humour, usually involving the same small group of friends – playing cricket, bathing, sailing – and the long-vanished world of house parties. They are gossamer-light, and, I think, very funny. (more…)
by P. G. Wodehouse
Ronald Psmith (“the ‘p’ is silent, as in pshrimp”) is always willing to help a damsel in distress. So when he sees Eve Halliday without an umbrella during a downpour, he nobly offers her an umbrella, even though it’s one he picks out of the Drone Club’s umbrella rack. Psmith is so besotted with Eve that, when Lord Emsworth, her new boss, mistakes him for Ralston McTodd, a poet, Psmith pretends to be him so he can make his way to Blandings Castle and woo her. And so the farce begins: criminals disguised as poets with a plan to steal a priceless diamond necklace, a secretary who throws flower pots through windows, and a nighttime heist that ends in gunplay.
Everyone can remember where they were when they read their first Wodehouse – it’s up there along with your first kiss, where you were when you heard John Lennon was dead or the first time you spelled “occurred” without checking it out. I was twelve, in bed with flu, and my father brought me a bottle of Lucozade, and a couple of books he’d found in a jumble sale – Georgette Heyer’s “Black Sheep” and “Leave It to Psmith”.
I’d never before come across a book where the words weren’t used as simple building blocks: all the books I’d read till then marched briskly from A to B, no loitering, no funny stuff in the back row. “The Mountain of Adventure” would have had no truck with an opening sentence like:- (more…)
by Ernest Bramah
Like Scheherazade of “The One Thousand and One Arabian Nights”, Kai Lung relies upon his prowess as a storyteller to save his neck when he’s accused of treason. His traditional tales ― laced with thought-provoking aphorisms ― will transport readers to a mandarin’s court in ancient China.
How is it possible to suspend topaz in one cup of the balance and weigh it against amethyst in the other; or who…can compare the tranquillising grace of a maiden with the invigorating pleasure of witnessing a well-contested rat-fight?
Forget the frenetic world of Facebook, the torrent of trivia that is Twitter. This review brings you something different. This review wants you to Relax. This review invites you to kick back, turn off the phone, and enjoy the journey in the company of Ernest Bramah’s wonderful Oriental creation – Kai Lung, itinerant story teller, master of Litotes, Euphemism and Understatement, and Apologist Extraordinary for Slow Reading. (more…)