Harry Caldecote is the most charming man you'll ever meet, a convivial academic who devotes his life to others. He is on call when his alcoholic niece falls into strange hands, when his brother threatens to emulate Wordsworth, when his son's lesbian lodger is beaten up by her girlfriend. He endures misplaced seductions, swindles and aggressive ...
Harry Caldecote is the most charming man you'll ever meet, a convivial academic who devotes his life to others. He is on call when his alcoholic niece falls into strange hands, when his brother threatens to emulate Wordsworth, when his son's lesbian lodger is beaten up by her girlfriend. He endures misplaced seductions, swindles and aggressive dogs just to keep the peace at the King's pub in Shepherd's Hill. But when the Adams' Institute of Cultural and Commercial History in America offers him the opportunity to do 'whatever he wanted to do' in a picturesque lakeside town, he faces a choice between freedom or responsibility - and whether to take charge of his own life.
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Publishers Weekly, 1990-05-11 Another example of the new, mellower Amis, who wrote the bestselling (in Britain) The Old Devils , this is a pleasant, rambling, sometimes touching tale of Harry Caldecote, a retired library executive, and the assorted people in his life. These include Fiona, a self-destructive alcoholic related to one of his former wives; Bunty, the daughter of another, who is in an unhappy lesbian relationship; his ineffectual brother Freddie, married to a termagant; Clare, his capable but unambitious sister; and Piers, his son, a witty, elusive cadger. In his bemused way Harry worries about all of them, does his best for them and only very occasionally succeeds in bettering their lot. The character sketches are sharp, Amis's habitual misogyny is very muted, and there are even a couple of sympathetic and sophisticated Asian shopkeepers. A much kinder book than most of his work, then, but with the same sense of muddle and pitifully limited horizons we have come to associate with the Amis world. And the oddities of his style increasingly are coming to seem as carefully stylized, and classic in their way, as those of P. G. Wodehouse. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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