Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: Paradise Postponed

When it comes to humorous literature, I see a continuum from books that are almost purely funny, with only a fragile plot for framework, to serious literature written by a witty author able to leaven a heavy story with a little comedy. I personally put P. G. Wodehouse at the one end and Jim Harrison at the other, with Christopher Buckley, Nick Hornby, Kingsley Amis, David Lodge, and Kate Atkinson in the middle, more or less in that order subject to aberration for particular books.

With that in mind, I can't say that I was disappointed with Paradise Postponed, the first book I've read by John Mortimer, an English author noted for his humorous books (including his popular Rumpole series), but I was thrown off. Without rational basis, I had it in my head that his books were going to be closer to the Wodehouse end of the scale and Paradise Postponed was much closer to the Harrison end – somewhere between Lodge and Atkinson. It took a while for me to enjoy the story while my expectations readjusted.

I ended up enjoying Paradise Postponed well enough, even if I didn't love it. It is my favorite kind of comic story about English village life with the requisite nutty vicar, illicit lovers, country doctor, and mix of difficult and lovable family members, all involved in a series of funny adventures. The story moves between the present in the 1980s back to post WWII days, as two middle-aged brothers try to figure out why their father, a communist clergyman, left his estate to a Conservative cabinet minister.

None of the characters were very likeable, and snarky jibes at Thatcherism have lost their bite after twenty-some years, but the story pulled me in and there were plenty of funny bits. I'm up for the sequel, Titmuss Regained, and will give barrister Rumpole a try.


If you would like your review of this or any other John Mortimer book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.


This counted as one of my books for the TBR challenges I am doing this year.

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