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Lunch at the Piccadilly (Edgerton, Clyde) Hardcover – October 1, 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Respect for his elders, Southern charm, an ear for authentic dialogue, and a great sense of humor are Clyde Edgerton's trademarks. Lunch at the Piccadilly is no exception. Lil Olive, lively octogenarian, fetches up at the Rosehaven Convalescent Center after a bad fall, but she is not ready to pack it in. Instead, she befriends several of her peers, plans outings which she executes by stealing a car she insists is hers, and starts laying bets on whether or not Clara removes her glass eye at night.

The center of the novel is Lil's middle-aged, never married nephew Carl. It has fallen to him to look after the women in his family: first his mother, then his Aunt Sarah and now Aunt Lil. He is the soul of patience and kindness, looking after Lil's needs, visiting her frequently and taking the ladies to lunch. He befriends L. Ray Flowers, a firebrand preacher who, because of an injury, is temporarily marooned at the Center. Flowers has an idea: "We are about to pronounce the grand fact that nursing homes and churches all across this land must become interchangeable... We need not two institutions... We need one. And it shall be called Nurches of America, Chursing Homes of the United States." In addition to his grandiose idea, he writes music and encourages Carl to take up the bass guitar again. Carl starts writing lyrics for L. Ray's music and, for a short while, preaching and singing rock the porch at Rosehaven. Inevitably, time and the past catch up with Lil and L. Ray, but not before Carl has found a new creative outlet that gives him some purpose in life other than selling awnings.

Edgerton's Raney and Walking Across Egypt are better novels, with tighter plots and more fully realized characters, but Lunch at the Piccadilly is unmistakably Edgerton, and that's not bad. --Valerie Ryan

From Publishers Weekly

Edgerton writes with warmth about the plight of the elderly in his latest, an ensemble portrait that tracks the ups and downs of a group of nursing home residents at the Rosehaven Convalescent Center. The central figure is contractor Carl Turnage, who devotes most of his time to caring for his dotty, eccentric aunt, Lil Olive, after a fall puts her in convalescent care. The friendly, rambunctious Lil quickly strikes up several friendships at the home, organizing a series of cute but ill-advised adventures as the various patients battle to keep their driving rights and other privileges. Turnage, meanwhile, becomes involved in an adventure of his own with another resident, a flamboyant preacher-cum-musician named L. Ray Flowers who talks him into playing bass in a duo after he sets some of Turnage's lyrics to music. Edgerton hits the mark with his quirky characterizations, and his sympathy for his subjects is evident as they struggle to retain their dignity through their twilight years. Much of the humor is stuffy and outdated, and the comic material involving elderly driving is off-key. But Edgerton compensates with a strong finish: Lil is suddenly hospitalized, and Turnage is forced to come to terms with her mortality, even as a lurid incident involving Flowers's flagrant behavior with the female residents forces another crisis on him. This underplotted novel isn't one of Edgerton's best efforts, but it remains a solid, touching treatment of a neglected subject.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Series: Edgerton, Clyde
  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: A Shannon Ravenel Book; 1 edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565121953
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565121959
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,072,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Clyde Edgerton is the author of ten novels, a memoir, short stories, and essays. He is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and teaches creative writing at UNC Wilmington. He lives in Wilmington, NC, with his wife, Kristina, and their children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Lunch at the Piccadilly is an impossibility: Edgerton manages to create a nursing home environment that sounds downright like fun, even a place you might want to settle in for a stay sometime. This master of humor (esp of the Southern border state variety), makes the halls of Rosehaven Convalescent Home ring with laughter, debate, religious fervor, and general hilarity. Maudie Lowe and Beatrice Satterwhite can't agree on whether Clara removes her glass eyeball at night. Lil Olive won't give up her driving license. Period.
I still think Walking Across Egypt and Raney are Edgerton's best ones ever, but Lunch at the Piccadilly is pushing at the gates, close on their heels.
You'll love it. If by some bizarre chance you haven't read Edgerton before, you have a rare treat in store.
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Format: Hardcover
I cannot remember when I've gained so much wisdom from such a small novel. In his first book in several years, Clyde Edgerton tells a haunting tale of Aunt Lil, her nephew Carl and L. Ray Flowers along with several other memorable characters, several who "live" at Rosehaven Convalescence Center in Listre, North Carolina. The time is the present; the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou" is still playing at the local theatre. The themes are timeless, however: old age with all its problems and sorrows, missed opportunities, the ills of fundamentalist religion, the warehousing of those who can no longer look after themselves--and trite as it may seem-- the redeeming power of both music and love.
Truth breaks through on every page. Homecooked, delicious meals have been replaced by cafeteria lunches and/or-- heaven help us-- fast food chains. On religion, Reverend L. Ray wonders why the local Baptist church sends missionaries to Alaska , England and South Africa. "It seems like church members often have a desparate need to be unaware of the local needs of the local wrecks of local women stacked along the local grim halls of local nursing homes, places in conditions far sadder than merry Rosehaven--places like Shady Rest." (All too soon L. Ray will witness firsthand the awfulness of Shady Rest.) Then there is the sad truth of the lot of women like Aunt Lil, women who because of their age and community, had their entire lives determined by whom they selected for a husband. Neither Aunt Lil nor her friends got out of a bad marriages. "Until death do us part" was taken quite literally, often to women's great detriment.
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Format: Hardcover
So again we find ourselves in (imaginary) Listre, North Carolina where a new cache of characters keep popping up in Edgerton's world. In this (his most recent) novel, Edgerton in about 250 pages expresses the humor residing in having the audacity to be relieved that an elderly family member has passed on.
Carl's Aunt Lil must stop driving--she runs red lights, is overcome with brief spells of aphasia ("Which one is he?" she wonders at her nephew), and can't really see over the dashboard. However, since the government saw fit to give her a license and hadn't taken it away yet, she would keep driving until they did. Fortunately for Carl she passes before he can put his foot down.
Is that what we all fear? Having to be the one to snatches away what independence the elderly have left? Although making a point was unlikely to be the purpose of this book, Edgerton softly compares which way is better to go: falling from the toilet pulling a call cord for help, or in a car with old friends running red lights--laughing.
The crop of secondary characters tend to outshine the primaries in Edgerton books and this one is no different. I found the eloquent, yet grating, Reverend L. Ray to be an absolutely brilliant addition to the storyline. He reminded me of a ill-conceived cross between Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and...well, Colonel Sanders:
"O God in us all, may we embrace the rooms of refuge food. Real food, cheap food, food served by people with wet rags under their arms. I eat; I cheat. I forge; I gorge. I taste; I waste. Waffle House, Huddle House, Puddle House, Muddle House..." he begins his blessing.
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By A Customer on February 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you're a fan of literature that captures dialogue, settings, and people (think McCrae's BARK OF THE DOGWOOD or Flagg's FRIED GREEN TOMATOES) then this is the book for you. Edgerton's ear for dialect and inflection is unsurpassed and this funny, charming, irreverant, and wonderful look at human nature is not to be missed. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful idea! Those of us with aged parents know how often loneliness is mentioned as a component of their lives. L.Ray Flowers and Lil and friends come up with an idea to cure that loneliness-unite the churches and nursing homes-think globally, act locally.
Edgerton has created a group of old people with spunk and humor and love of life. He has given Lil's nephew, Carl, the patience and kindness to truly spend real time with his aunt and her friends. The description of Carl bringing his Aunt back from "jail in South Carolina" should be read by everyone who is called upon to care for an elderly person. It is a model of humor, creativeness and love.
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