- Series: Windsor Selection
- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: CHIVERS LARGE PRINT (CHIVERS, WINDSOR, PARAGON & C; New Ed edition (2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 075401598X
- ISBN-13: 978-0754015987
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,556,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Summer of a Dormouse: A Year of Growing Old Disgracefully (Windsor Selection) Hardcover – Import, 2001
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'Charming, intelligent, cheerful, mellifluous, gossipy and wise. Buy it for Christmas' - Fay Weldon, Mail on Sunday --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Sir John Mortimer was born in 1923. He created the character Rumpole of the Bailey, and wrote a bestselling trilogy of political novels featuring the politician Leslie Titmuss. He has also written many TV adaptations, including Brideshead Revisited and Cider with Rosie, and two volumes of autobiography. He lives in the Chilterns, near Henley. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Nor is the author excused from such wifely strictures, from his own wife Penelope (his second ... both called Penelope) but she was a real care-giver and he admits he needed both her concern and discipline. He was well aware of himself, remarking that he sometimes "looked" at himself and wondered "whatever will I do next"? Well, the answer was pretty much everything he enjoyed ... plays, charitable works, political agitation, travel, films and many, many books. And at 62 a new daughter to "counteract my tendency to pomposity". One day she told him she no longer loved him, "That is sad" said her father. "Sad, yes, but very interesting" was the child's reply, with all the feminine wisdom of three years!
Opening this part (Three) of his biography with a quote from Byron "When one subtracts from life infancy (being a vegetable), sleeping, eating and swilling, buttoning and unbuttoning - how much remains of existence? The summer of a dormouse." Mortimer adopted this not only as his title but, when he was Knighted in 1996, as the animal on his coat of arms, and words on the banner ... suitability put into Latin of course. He does not mention if he also chose to become Lord Dormouse.
John's father's last words to him - and he admits he knows not if they were long-rehearsed or of spontaneous wit - were "I am always cross when I am dying." I do wish I could remember to say that! You get the impression from the wonderful witty writing in the book - from, of course, the creator of Rumpole of the Bailey - that he too would have been very cross when his time came in 2009, perhaps he chose one line from one of his favorite poets, the Scots makar, Friar William Dunbar "timor mortis conturbat me"?
A downright charming book.
The beginning of the book emphasizes his relationship with Franco Zeffirelli, for whom he wrote the screenplay for "Tea with Mussolini." He was fascinated by the casting and filming of that production, and his comments about Judy Dench, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith, all Great Ladies of British theatre, who shared billing in the film with the American Cher, add life and spice to the behind the scenes stories, especially when these actors appear nude at Zeffirelli's pool. He jumps quickly from this to his problems with his own broken leg, followed by leg ulcers that will not heal, and his experiments with a "black box," and electrical treatments which have a healing effect.
Soon he is onto the subject of running a campaign to rebuild the Royal Court Theatre, the problems he has had with government financing, with foundations, and with donors. His liberal political goals and his anti-establishment screeds add contemporary British political information to the autobiographical mix, and his reminiscences about growing up with his father, a blind barrister who was carefully tended to by Mortimer's solicitous mother, put his own pre-occupations with the family house and garden into perspective.
Unfortunately, his discussion about his father's blindness, the surgeries his father underwent, his homage to his patient and long-suffering mother, and his own problems and surgeries for detached retinas (apparently inherited) are virtually (if not, actually) lifted from his previous autobiography, Murderers and Other Friends. His story about visiting Sir John Gielgud with his wife and baby daughter Emily in her "pink carry-cot" is also virtually identical to his previous reminiscence from "Murderers and Other Friends." Though he discussed at length his relationship with playwright Harold Pinter in that book, he sees Pinter in this book and comments as if he's never seen him before! Fascinating for anyone who loves Rumpole and the Mortimer writings, this third "autobiography" is more like a free-floating reminiscence written by Mortimer for himself than it is for a wider audience of Mortimer fans. Mary Whipple
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