Miss Hargreaves

Miss Hargreaves

A Novel

Book - 2010
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When Norman Huntley, and his friend, Henry, invent an 83 year old woman, called Mrs. Hargreaves, they are inspired to write to their fictional friend. The silly, harmless, game turns out not to be such, when she arrives on their doorstep, in Buckinghamshire, exactly as he imagined her.
Publisher: New York, NY : Bloomsbury USA, 2010, c1940.
Edition: Paperback ed.
ISBN: 9781608190515
Characteristics: 317 p. ; 20 cm.


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Apr 01, 2018

Perhaps often shelved as "supernatural" or "silly-ass humor" (with a nod to Bertie Wooster) this is a book that will delight some readers and infuriate others. Certainly, there are plenty of hilarious passages and the characterization (or more to the point, send-ups) of of some of the "types", especially the host of hangers-on that once populated a typical English cathedral are priceless. On the other hand, like all well crafted humor, it can be a gentle a vehicle for a quite serious life lesson: You have a responsibility for whatever you create (or in this case any person you create; and whatever you've done may come back to haunt you. And with a nod to Shaw, woe betide you if you should become enamored with your own creation.
A couple of memorable phrases are worth quoting: A fellow chorister is "a little alto with a voice like a starving fly in a bottle" who had once been "mistaken for a bassoon".
The rapidity with which rumor flies around in the small town: "I believe if you sent a telegram to yourself, you'd get it before you sent it."
How appropriate that I finished this book on April Fools Day ....

Jun 30, 2014

Miss Hargreaves is extraordinary as many of the fanstastical interwar novels were extraordinary. It's a pity that trailblazers such as Baker, TH White, David Lindsay, and ER Eddison were so completely overshadowed by the mega-success that was Tolkien and later CS Lewis (although I am an enormous fan of both). Frank Baker's work is a cult classic that deserves mainstream appeal. I am, in general, opposed to breaking the fourth wall and it is that alone that subtracted a star from my review of this book. On the other hand, dialogue is a vastly under-appreciated skill and Baker's is spot-on. Witty, charming, believable, he truly gave his characters their voices and allowed me to despise them or berate them or admire them or fall in love with them as naturally as I would with any living person. That is true mastery.

Jan 19, 2011

An interesting storyline, intriguing even; but it could not hold my attention.


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