Another tremendous book from Simon Gary, and in this
prequel to the wonderful Gone to the Dogs he has really honed his craft
in character development; Thryke is a masterclass. Not reaching out for some of the hilarity or
bawdy laughs of its predecessor, this instalment is a much more subtle, poignant
comedy, with greater focus on the genuinely moving emotive elements of …Dogs:
sadness, happiness, romance and a life of rural innocence.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a great fan of Cornelius Thryke’s
character in the first book, but (as I’m sure is the author’s intention) I’ve
seen him in a whole new light after reading this engrossing tale of a
quintessential English country boy, through childhood in boarding school,
military honours on World War Two’s Africa front, to a career in the Ealing-style
British movie scene of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Thryke would then go on to become one of our greatest national treasures
– a cad and a bounder epitomized. There
is a real sense of classic British pride – the Yorkshire pud and spotted dick
kind – and like …Dogs this is a gem of a book for any discerning fan of
glorious middle-crust, mid-century English life.
A beautifully written tale, the real star of which is the tragedy
which underpins it throughout; Simon is an expert at getting the reader to
really emotionally feel the situations he writes, in a way that very few
authors I have ever worked with can.
This was undoubtedly a labour of love for the author, and I too came to develop
a real affection for Cornelius, desperately hoping that he would find happiness
in his naivete. Understated, subtle and incredibly
moving, this book is a triumphant fictional life-story, of a character that I came
to care about almost as much as his superbly talented creator does. The best book I’ve had the pleasure to work
with in a long time – very highly recommended.
In : Book Reviews