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Quite Honestly Paperback – February 27, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (February 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143038648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143038641
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,093,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The indomitable Mortimer (Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders, etc.) is back with a new cast of quixotic characters. Lucinda Purefoy (Lucy), daughter of a liberal Anglican bishop and his gin-soaked wife, graduates from university with a hankering to repay her debt to society, so she joins SCRAP (Social Carers, Reformers and Praeceptors), a volunteer organization that pairs a do-gooder with a done-badder on release from prison. The idea is to ease the ex-con's transition into society. Or, as Lucy introduces herself to her "client" Terry Keegan, "I'm your guide and philosopher." Keegan, a young man from the wrong side of Ladbroke Grove, started pinching bottles of whiskey with his schoolmate Chippy when he was 12; now he's getting out of the big house after doing three years for breaking and entering. He knows his transition would be much easier without the likes of Lucy and sets out to lose her at the first opportunity. Complications ensue, especially when Chippy (now Leonard) McGrath, who has established a false front as an environmentally concerned businessman to disguise his thriving crime organization, enters the scene. Told in a nimble he-said, she-said format, the narrative cartwheels across all that is sanctimonious about prison reform for a delectable undoing of do-gooders. (Mar. 27)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Novelist, playwright, and former barrister Mortimer departs from his hugely popular Rumpole series in this lively romp revolving around love and the criminal mind. Life is grand for Lucinda ("call me Lucy") Purefoy, who, equipped with a university degree, a dashing boyfriend, and the prospect of a lucrative job in advertising, thinks it's time to give something back to the world that has afforded her so much. She joins Social Carers, Reformers, and Praeceptors (best known by its dubious acronym, SCRAP), an organization that links high-minded women with lowly ex-cons. The first meeting between Lucy and her charge, Terry Keegan, doesn't go well; the curly-haired burglar greets her generosity with an ungrateful glare and then demands a trip to Burger King, where he downs one Whopper after another. But as time passes, the two have an unexpected effect on one another--for better and worse. Endearingly eccentric characters are Mortimer's cachet. Among them: reprobates "Screwtop" Parkinson and "Chippy" McGrath, who maintain the illusion of moral propriety through a succession of lucrative heists; Lucy's father, a beatific bishop who dispenses treacly truisms; and her feckless mother, more inclined to gin and tonics than chapter and verse. Quite Honestly is great fun from page 1--honestly. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The minor characters are worse.
Dave Schwinghammer
Mortimer has an easy style and is, overall, delightful.
Jerry Saperstein
The language is particularly stunning and swift.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schwinghammer VINE VOICE on April 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have been a big Rumpole fan every since the PBS series, and I thought I'd give one of Mortimer's other books a try. If he could strike gold with Horace Rumpole, why not with Lucy Purefoy? Unfortunately, no such luck.

Lucinda Purefoy is a bishop's daughter recently graduated from college. She takes an advertising job, but something is missing, so she decides to volunteer for an organization called SCRAP, Social Carers, Reformers and Praeceptors, who help former prisoners readjust to society. That's how she meets Terry Keegan who's just done four years for breaking and entering. They fall in love.

The conflict begins when Terry tries to explain to Lucy why he got into burglary in the first place. "It's not for the money," he says, "It's the excitement." She wants to get closer to Terry so she decides to try it for herself. She begins by shoplifting. When Terry finds out about it, the roles are reversed. Now he's the one trying to get her to go straight.

When Terry looks down his nose at her trivial efforts, she decides to increase the stakes. There lies the problem with the book. It's just not believable; it reads more like Bridget Jones's Diary than a crime caper. I would imagine Mortimer was trying to lampoon do-gooders here, but Lucy is such a dim bulb that the reader is constantly telling himself, "She can't be serious!"

The minor characters are worse. Lucy's father the bishop is more liberal than Teddy Kennedy. When he finds out Lucy is sleeping with Terry, he's all for it. Also, when the leader of SCRAP resigns, they solicit Terry's criminal overseer, Chippy McGrath, to take his place. Mr. Markby, Terry's parole officer, is just as clueless. These people just don't measure up to the Rumpole characters. Somebody should have had the courage to tell this to Mr. Mortimer.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on May 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
That the guy's only doing it for some doll."

From Frank Loesser's "Guys and Dolls". There is a Guys and Dolls like quality to John Mortimer's new book "Quite Honestly", but with a twist. In John Mortimer's world of criminals and those who would seek to redeem them it's better than even money that the doll's only doing it for some guy.

The "guy" in this instance is Terry Keegan. He's a youthful offender newly released from prison. The "doll" is Lucinda Purefoy. The daughter of a very liberal Anglican (Episcopalian) Bishop and recent graduate of Manchester University (of which I am a proud alumnus). In a rather rash career move she is recruited to join an association dedicated to the rehabilitation of Britain's prison population, "Social Carers, Reformer and Praeceptors" known to all as SCRAP.

Terry is Lucinda's first assignment and from the beginning we see that things will not necessarily turn out quite the way Lucinda envisions things. The story is told in the voices of both Terry and Lucinda in successive chapters. It is a very neatly drawn point/counter-point process. First we hear Terry's account of their first meeting, then Lucinda's, and so on.

The plot hook for "Quite Honestly" is a simple one: will Lucinda succeed in her planned redemption of Terry. For Mortimer at least it seems the road to hell and maybe to love (if there is any difference between the two) is indeed paved with good intentions. Along the way we are treated to some of Mortimer's typically humorous and insightful writing. Mortimer's wry asides about Lucinda's father the bishop and the Anglican Church (ground Mortimer has trod before in his Rapstone Chronicles series) are humorous in principal part because they seem so on target.
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Format: Hardcover
Remember the O. Henry tale of love where the man sells his watch to buy an ornament to his love's beautiful long hair? And she sells her hair to buy him something? John Mortimer updates the meme.

Terry Keegan is a small-time, young burglar about to be released from prson. Lucy Purefoy is an idealistic young woman who believes, more or less, that love and goodness can change the world, so she joins SCRAP (Social Carers, Reformers and Praeceptors). As a praeceptor, Lucy is to befriend a released prisoner and help him or her find a job, a place to live and keep them on the straight and narrow. Praeceptors are, of course, not to become their charges' friends and especially not their lovers.

You know what's going to happen, don't you?

Terry knows that there is a better, higher road in life, but he doesn't want Lucy's help. He'll find his own way, thank you. Lucy, of course, knows, just knows, she can change Terry's course in life.

The story is told in alternating voices, first Lucy, then Terry. Along the way, author John Mortimer introduces us to characters who are a hilarious send up of contemporary mores. There's Lucy's father, a bishop who doesn't think God is on his side any more, not since the deity smiled upon Bush and Blair. Lucy's mother is an genteel alcoholic, totally self-absorbed. Lucy herself reflects the values of the age, never without a man of the moment in her bed. In all, Mortimer skillfully and efficiently describes our era, where traditional values have been abandoned for . . . well, for whatever strikes one's fancy.

Of course, Lucy and Terry begin their descent along the slippery slope of love. Terry wants to earn the respect of Lucy by doing good.
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