Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Paradise Postponed

1985, 1986 Penguin edition
John Mortimer
Paradise Postponed
Possibly bought newish, for $4.50
Very worn paperback

I think I saw the Masterpiece Theatre adaptation first, in '86 or '87.  I loved it at the time but haven't seen it since.  I do know I used to really enjoy this book, and when I first started it this go, I was inclined to give it a B.  But after awhile, I felt like much of the characterisation was thin.  (For instance, it seemed like I knew Agnes better in the miniseries.)  Also, now that I know Rev. Simcox's secret-- the book is a mystery, but not like Mortimer's more famous Rumpole stories-- the hints dropped along the way feel flatter than they once did.  And I felt dislocated in the chronology, not so much in the going between past and present (the latter Thatcherite England), but in the jumps of the past.  I would think a year had passed but it was actually three or five, or vice versa. 

All that said, the novel does have some great lines, and it is fun to follow the rises and falls and interweavings of the various families.  Oddly enough, it most reminded me of Austen and Rowling, the former because it is (despite trips to London and L.A.) primarily "three or four families in a country village," the latter because the line on the back cover, "All was well in the village of Rapstone Fanner-- until the Rector died" reminds me of a line in or about Casual Vacancy.  This village is more corrupt than Austen's, less than Rowling's.  There's no one to really identify with, except maybe Mrs. Simcox or son Fred, but Mortimer does humanise even the unpleasant people.  I wish the book was either deeper or more satirical (like Jane Smiley perhaps), but like the characters, I've learned to settle for what I get.

Speaking of time, it's time to look at the stats again.  First of all, thank you to all of you who have been reading about "My Poor Aunt" and other posts this month, so that the reading stats will be in the top four of the months so far.  (Eight more clicks and it'll be the top month.)  And I've read 100 more books since Doonesbury's Greatest Hits (1978).  At the time I'd given out

1 F
4 F+s
2 D-s
5 D's
11 D+s
16 C-s
26 C's
103 C+s
164 B-s
118 B's
43 B+s
7 A-s

I haven't read anything really dreadful lately, but I did give out another 3 C-s, 10 more C's, and 23 more C+s.  Nearly half, 44, of the new grades are B-s.  I gave 19 B's but only one B+ (Growing Up) and no A-.

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