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Topper (Modern Library) Paperback – February 2, 1999


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Topper (Modern Library) + Topper Takes a Trip (Modern Library Paperbacks) + The Night Life of the Gods
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (February 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375753052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375753053
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"[Thorne Smith] created the modern American ghost. A ghost with style and wit. A ghost that haunts us still."
--The New York Times

Thorne Smith is a master of urbane wit and sophisticated repartee. Topper, his best-known work, is the hilarious, ribald comedy on which the hit television show and movie (starring Cary Grant) were based.

It all begins when Cosmo Topper, a law-abiding, mild-mannered bank manager, decides to buy a secondhand car, only to find it haunted by the ghosts of its previous owners--the reckless, feckless, frivolous couple who met their untimely demise when the car careened into an oak tree. The ghosts, George and Marion Kerby, make it their mission to rescue Topper from the drab "summer of suburban Sundays" that is his life--and they commence a series of madcap adventures that leave Topper, and anyone else who crosses their path, in a whirlwind of discomfiture and delight.

As enchanting today as it was when first published in 1926, Topper has set the standard in American pop culture for such mischievous apparitions as those seen in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Heaven Can Wait, Beetlejuice, and Bewitched.

About the Author

Thorne Smith was the author of nine novels, including The Night Life of the Gods, Topper Takes a Trip, and The Stray Lamb. He was born in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1892 and died in 1934. Carolyn See is the author of nine books. Her latest novel is The Handyman.

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Customer Reviews

And the story reads pretty quickly.
J. Tsao
Thorne Smith creates delightful characters with great depth and longing, and writes about them in a witty, incredibly insightful, and downright hilarious fashion.
BREEZIridr@aol.com
Anyone who enjoys humourous novels has to put this one on their reading list.
Melody Sczarski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "laddie5" on September 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
The movie and TV versions of "Topper" have always emphasized the trick of ghosts appearing and disappearing... but the novel is really about Mr. Topper's love/hate relationship to middle-class conformity, and how he's drawn toward love and death. As with many of Smith's books, there's an undertow of sadness about how brief and unsatisfying life can be, and a true satirist's rage at hypocrisy and repression. Set in the same period as "The Great Gatsby," this is almost a companion piece -- another story about longing and belonging, fast driving and fast living, and dropouts living a very different life than those around them.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. G. Heiser on March 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Who hasn't fallen in love with a ghost at least once in their life?
Topper is absolutely delightful. While in some ways it was considered scandalous at the time, it certainly seems innocent today. It has a lightness and freshness lacking in his later works. Some contemporary readers may be unused to fiction that lacks violence and overt sex, but the appeal of this story is Cosmo's mid-life crisis and its sucessful resolution with the supernatural assistance of a carful of hard-drinking, carefree spirits.
Whoever coined the phrase 'witty repartee' probably had this book in mind. It's a fun read that kept me entertained all the way from Seattle to Virginia.
One word of advice before you start. Smith uses an interesting motif in this book over and over again. Keep your eyes open for it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert S. Clay Jr. on January 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Thorne Smith's fantasy of Cosmo Topper and ghostly George and Marion Kerby is more thought provoking than one might expect. Although rich with humor, the story has pensive undertones. The story is of Topper's rebellion against his dull life and marriage. After the wild and crazy Kerby's perish in a road accident, middle-aged Topper buys their repaired sporty automobile. He discovers their ghostly presence, and joins the playful spirits in a road trip that takes up much of the novel. His flirtation with the delectable Marion Kerby may have seemed racy 'way back when, but it is mild stuff today. George Kerby is absent for part of the story. While George is away, Topper and Marion play, mostly at Marion's instigation. The snickering references to drinking, ladies lingerie, and compromising positions offers amusement. One needs to understand the old term "step-ins." Typical of the TV and movie versions, Topper deals with a number of awkward situations when ghostly happenings occur before bewildered onlookers. This evokes chuckles, but there is more of yearning in the book than laugh-out-loud comedy. This book is a beguiling relic of the 1920s. It's worth a look. To enhance your appreciation of the book, avoid the pitfall of preconceived notions based on the films and TV versions. Multiple readings are recommended. ;-)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Melody Sczarski on November 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
'Topper' is best known perhaps from the Cary Grant movie version. It's a good movie but I like the book even better. The characters delight, particularly in terms of Cosmo's retaining his decorum, in the warmth of Marion's dead-but-still-sexy presence. Anyone who enjoys humourous novels has to put this one on their reading list. Few recent humour novels are as funny as this classic from decades past, but there is one I know of, entitled 'Rastus Reilly', and I recommend that book as well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Tsao on February 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Having never heard of the movie, my initial attraction to this book was actually the cover art. Though there really isn't a date given, I pictured it perhaps in the early 1920's, though the depiction of the automobile as some kind of strange novelty probably sets it in the early 1910's.
Perhaps it's a reflection on myself, but I enjoy stories about ordinary people who are stuck in a rut or who have lived their lives having never followed their dreams and who are given one last chance to shine.
The characters and antics are outrageous, yet likable in a strange way. And the story reads pretty quickly.
While reading this book, I pictured elements of the 20's, 50's, and 80's. In fact, I think they should re-make a movie of this book and set it in a "timeless" setting.
Overall, if you're not prejudiced against reading a book written in the 1920's, I'd recommend it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By BREEZIridr@aol.com on December 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Topper is the delightfully riotious story of a staid, quietly frustrated banker who buys a fancy sports car haunted by it's previous owners, who died when they crashed it on their way home from a party. Since death did NOT part them, the two gang up on poor "Toppy", turning a good man bad the right way. He learns to drink to excess, lie to his wife, and blow his staid, "pillar of the community" reputation all to hell. Thorne Smith creates delightful characters with great depth and longing, and writes about them in a witty, incredibly insightful, and downright hilarious fashion. I've read all his books, and recommend them all highly, with "Night Life of the Gods" being my all-time favorite book. When you read Thorne Smith, you WILL laugh out loud! I highly recommend "Topper" to anyone who enjoys a good laugh, and a flock of cocktails!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By RuthAlice on March 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
I loved this book the first time I read it. This time it was less charming, though still fun. It all begins when Cosmo Topper, the epitome of Humdrum Life buys a car -- and discovers too late that it is haunted. Yes, haunted, and by outrageously adventuresome ghosts as well. Ghosts that drag poor Cosmo from one scrape to another and convert his Humdrum to Mayhem. Great Fun!
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