Tuesday, August 11, 2015


This is an hilarious satire on the British upper class set in the period between the wars.  The attitudes and snobbishness of the upper class taken to the nth degree.

Polly Montdore, daughter of one of England's wealthiest families, shows no inclination to marry despite many attempts to match make by her mother, that is until she announces to friends and family she is going to marry her recently widowed uncle.  This is where the trouble starts.

The story is told through the eyes of Polly's distant cousin, Fanny,who comes from a titled family but without the immense wealth. Our narrator fills us in on the daily lives of the upper classes in great detail and keeps it amusing throughout.

Polly's mother is a wonderful snob and a highlight of the book.

Back in the Long Gallery some of the women went upstairs to 'powder their' noses.  Lady Montdore was scornful. ' I go in the morning,' she said,' and that is that. I don't have to be let out like a dog at intervals, thank goodness- there;s nothing so common, to my mind".

or this gem:

And if I might offer you a little advice Fanny, it would be to read fewer books,dear, and make your house slightly more comfortable.  that is what a man appreciates in the long run.'

I laughed all the way through this and it got even better when the delightfully camp Cedric appears. This is a delight, even the introduction  by Alan Cumming is great.

I also recommend Mitford's collection of letters between her and Evelyn Waugh, laugh out loud funny and very pointed.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Young Edmond Dantes is looking forward to a big week.  He is about to be promoted to ships captain and he is to  be married shortly to the love of his life.  Things couldn't be going better until three people conspire to have him imprisoned.  He is locked up in solitary confinement and forgotten for 14 years.

During this time he manages to make contact with an old priest in the next door dungeon.  The priest tells him of a fantastical treasure that he is aware of which awaits them if they can escape. Edmond eventually does escape and locates the treasure.

This treasure along with the education the priest has given him enable him to set out on the path of revenge against those who betrayed him.

This is a very complicated and brutal revenge involving many European locations and people which makes for a wonderful novel.

I've seen this described as a children's book but it contains adult themes which are not bed time reading for the kids, suicide, murder etc. There are many abridged versions of this book in the market but this full unabridged version needs to be read which runs 1200 -1400 pages depending on the edition.

Of course there are contrivances to keep the story and plot on target but this is a novel and novels do that.

There are religious themes and a moral lesson that is brought home at the end but the main point this makes apart from being very entertaining is never ever give up hope.