From Publishers Weekly
Britain's not-quite-newly mobile social order is vividly portrayed in this comical tour de force by veteran writer Ellis. An old family in Wales has gathered at its manor house to attend the dying of the family patriarch, the Captain. Mischievous heroine Rose, the daughter of the local vet, is married to Henry, the eldest son and heir. Michael, the younger son, is married to conservative, snobbish Angela. A repressed younger sister, Ermyn, longs only to become a nun. Ellis's satire includes those belowstairs, too. Housekeeper Phyllis, once the mainstay of the great house, now divides her days between nursing the Captain and cooking treats for her plump grandson, Gomer, who does nothing at all. Phyllis's son, known in the family as Jack the Liar, gets drunk as often as possible and settles for idleness the rest of the time. A pet ewe named Virginia Woolf wanders about. The quaint village of Llanelys, where the family lives, sports modern signs of commerce in Welsh and English; these days, instead of raising sheep, the locals fleece tourists for a living. Ellis's hilarious narrative moves briskly, helped by prose that is precise and illustrative, without a wasted word. Anglophiles will love this book, more evidence from Booker short-lister Ellis (Fairy Tale) that the British have not lost the knack for self-mockery.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
'There is wit, sharp perception and ... a cutting edge of thought and words that had me grinning maliciously and guiltily' D. Tel. *'A brilliant first novel ... extravagantly good ... pays off scores that we all grudgingly feel need settling and sticks in her pins with all the delicacy of a sadistic acupuncturist' Scotsman *'Funny, upper-class, and decidedly original ... One of the most accurate portraits of contemporary British life that I have yet read' Evening Standard
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