by Penny Blake

Morning Cuppa: Letters Between Gentlemen

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s zealously zabutonous parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

Today you find us shamefacedly apologetic that we were not at home last Tuesday; the Great Lancastrian Frying Pan Race was afoot and our vile and persistent landlord threw us out before dawn threatening to feed us to his tuffs if we didn’t sell enough lemonade to make last months rent… well all I can say is February is a tightfisted month that slinks by far too quickly without giving a gentleman time to amass the means to pay his dues.

If you are unaware, The Great Lancastrian Frying Pan Race takes place annually to herald in the gruelling period of fasting and general abstinence from anything fun which Wizards tell us is essential to commemorate Wiz’s final capture and defeat of The Holy Child before he turned him into a loaf of wholemeal bread and devoured him, washing him down with a thimble full of grape juice.

All the young maids and bachelors of Lancaster line up on the hillside above the town. At the starter’s horn, the men set off – their aim being to get to the town and indulge in as much gluttony and debauchery as they can before the maids catch up with them and beat them unconscious with their enormous frying pans. It also serves as sort of match making exercise for the lower classes – a modern subversive parody of the caveman mating ritual – and the real fun to be had is in betting which poor unfortunate lad a maid will set her sights on.

We actually had a lot of fun in the end, selling plenty of lemonade and then doubling our haul at the bookie’s, and now we are back to languishing on our vast array of silk and satin cushions, sipping this excellent tea : Hufflepuff House Tea from Woodsong Herb Co. and looking for a splendid book to accompany it, and of course we have one…

letters.jpg

This is truly one of the most intelligent, witty, entertaining and delightful books we have ever had the pleasure of reading. (in fact we have now read it several times) As the title suggests, it is made up of a series of correspondences between various gentlemen (and ladies… and mice…and people who are possibly pretending to be any of the above but actually are something else entirely…).

These letters constitute the case file of a private detective who is hired by a mysterious woman to investigate a series of murders in which Professor Elemental has been unwittingly (perhaps…) implicated. As this detective, Algernon Spoon, investigates the murders he becomes embroiled in a multitude of other schemes, plots, plans, deviations and religious sects involving everything from racing chimps and Badger armies to tea cannons and unspeakable acts of goat and wrongly buttered toast.
Whimsy and pant-wetting hilarity aside, the complex, multi-layered plot is so detailed and intriguing and holds so many hidden references to events and characters both historical and fictional, it is the sort of book that can be read repeatedly with new revelations, jokes and allusions being discovered with each re-read.
If you are a fan of Professor Elemental, Nimue and Tom Brown, or Steampunk in general then we think you will find this is precisely your ‘cup of tea.’ If you are not acquainted with any of the above, then if you relish any form of mischievous parody and creative whimsical genius along the lines of  Terry Pratchett, then this will be a perfect addition to your library.

Now then, our oracular cephalopterois is getting restless so we had better pop him into his cup and see what his far seeing tentacles have plucked from the aether for us to ponder this morning…

 

Ah, it looks like you have much more amusing and sensible sports in your dimension! We wish you a very splendid morning, filled to overflowing with tea, and we promise most faithfully to lay on lashings of elevenses for you tomorrow so, until then, please be always,

Utterly Yourself.

 

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6 responses

  1. Oh, you have entirely made my day, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 6, 2017 at 11:22 am

    • smithandskarry1

      You’re welcome! You know it’s one of my favourite books ever in the history of books 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      March 7, 2017 at 7:56 am

  2. gothicmangaka

    Reblogged this on The Moth Festival and commented:
    Utterly splendid review of Letters Between Gentlemen!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 6, 2017 at 11:25 am

  3. Reblogged this on Druid Life and commented:
    I’ve never found it easy to talk about my own books – not least because by the time one book comes out, I’m usually busy with the next one. And there’s that whole awkwardness thing about blowing ones own trumpet – the sense that drawing attention to things I do isn’t ok (some post should follow about women, manners and visibility). I am as a consequence of all of this, hugely grateful when other people undertake to talk about my books for me. It’s deeply reassuring to find that people are willing to, as well. So, here we go, a book review…

    Liked by 1 person

    March 8, 2017 at 11:30 am

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