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The Blurb

The landscape is flawless, the trees majestic, the flora and the fauna are right and proper. All is picturesquely typical of rural England at its best. Sir Giles, an MP of few principles and curious tastes, plots to destroy all this by building a motorway smack through it, to line his own pocket and at the same time to dispose of his wife, the capacious Lady Maude. But Lady Maude enlists a surprising ally in her enigmatic gardener Blott, a naturalised Englishman in whom adopted patriotism burns bright. Lady Maude’s dynamism and Blott’s concealed talents enable them to meet pressure with mimicry, loaded tribunals with publicity and chilli powder, and requisition orders with wickedly spiked beer. This explosively comic novel will gladden the heart of everyone who has ever confronted a bureaucrat, and spells out in riotous detail how the forces of virtue play an exceedingly dirty game when the issue is close to home.

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My thoughts

If I had read a physical copy of this book, I would probably think it was pretty good. However, I listened to the audiobook narrated by David Suchet, and his narration thrust this into the realms of hilarity. The story is nothing if not convoluted, and the levels of ridiculousness grow with each chapter – but it’s all written so well and with such wit that you can’t help but laugh out loud.

The synopsis above only scratches the surface of double dealings and dirty deeds committed by most of the characters, it does sometimes require concentration to keep up with who is doing what to who. However, it never sags or bores, and I really enjoyed this. I remember my Mom really enjoying the tv adaptation of this in the 1980s – David Suchet starred as the titular Blott in that series – and I can certainly see the attraction.

I would definitely recommend this book – but do yourself a favour and listen to the audio version.

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Year of first publication: 1975

Genre: Comedy, satire

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