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      Antoine Online

      Rancid Pansies

      by James Hamilton-Paterson
      Our price: LBP 23,925 / $ 15.95Unavailable
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      Product Details

      • Publisher: Europa Editions
      • Publishing date: 28/10/2008
      • Language: English
      • ISBN-13: 9781933372624
      • ISBN: 1933372621

      Synopsis

      Book three in the A“Gerald SamperA” series (Cooking with Fernet Branca, Amazing Disgrace)

      When we last saw our hero he had taken to his bed in England, his beloved home in Tuscany having inexplicably capsized into a ravine. As Rancid Pansies opens, Samper is recuperating in Sussex at the home of the famous conductor Max Christ when he learns that film rights to his book on Millie CleatA—the one-armed yachtswoman whose inadvertent hari-kari, televised on Christmas day, gave his book an enormous boostA—have been sold.

      This windfall is sufficient to finance a return to Italy and provide the time to indulge a long suppressed aspiration: writing the libretto for an opera (if only he can find a suitable subject). Before departing, the ever-gracious Gerald insists on preparing a farewell dinner for Max, his family and friends. The meal of liver smoothies and field mouse vol-au-vent is a memory-makerA—and the assembled companyA’s gag reflex is one of heroic proportions.

      Back in Italy, Gerald discovers that an offhand remark he had made while surveying the wreckage of his house, claiming he and his friends were saved by an apparition of the late Princess of Wales, has found its way into the Italian newspapers. Now, religious pilgrims and curious tourists have erected an ad hoc shrine on what is left of his property. Annoying to be sure, but there is the kernel of a grand idea here. Opera requires romance and tragedy, right? And who more than the PeopleA’s Princess had such theatrics in super-sized quantities? And, if Princess Diana were to become Saint Diana, think of the promotional possibilities, the merchandising! So fasten your seat belts: itA’s going to be a hilarious journey with some of the most appealing comic characters and sumptuous writing in recent literature.

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      • "It's wonderful what a good solid sum of money will do for the spirits...[but] it is never safe to heave a sigh of relief."
        From Amazon

        After winning the Whitbread Award in 1989 for Gerontius, a serious literary novel, Hamilton-Paterson most recently has written in a completely different vein--three wild, off-the-wall novels starring Gerald Samper, an aesthete who loves gourmet food, clothing, and cutting edge social commentary. Samper is, however, something of a jerk, a man so self-absorbed that he "lurches from crisis to crisis," never pausing for reflection. Despite these unsympathetic qualities, however, Samper cannot help but amuse and intrigue readers as he involves us in his whirlwind activities and the rollercoaster of his life. Rancid Pansies begins with the plummeting of Samper's Tuscany house down a ravine during an earthquake. A facetious remark Samper makes as he is being evacuated from the site of his now-vanished home--that Princess Diana had appeared in a vision and warned him and his guests to abandon the house seconds before disaster struck--has led ultimately to hordes of pilgrims descending on his property. A makeshift shrine becomes a grotto, and the local mayor and the "comune" see the tourist potential. Marta Priskil, next door, a former nemesis, can no longer work because of the noise and distraction, and Samper persuades her to move and work with him on an opera about Princess Diana, the royal family, and the movement to declare her a saint. Samper continues experimenting with culinary "delicacies," such as hedgerow broth with gently seethed owl pellets, liver smoothies, and Mice Krispies Vol-au-Vent, however, giving new meaning to the term "throwing a dinner." Hamilton-Paterson is too good a writer, however, to rely on this low humor for the entire novel. He satirizes British pretentions, British life, and even the royal family, his satire taking on added dimensions as Samper travels and comments about the differences between Italy, where he lives, and England where his business interests, and many of his friends, reside. A great punster, lover of word play, and creator of wild anagrams, including the title of this book (which is also the name of Samper's opera), Hamilton-Paterson (and, by extension, Samper) keeps the reader amused at his cleverness, even as the "plot," explodes in several different directions. When Samper and Marta's opera finally has its premiere in England, Hamilton-Paterson gives new meaning to the term "opera buffa," as the evening turns so absurd that no pretense at seriousness can be maintained. Samper's libretto is clever and blackly humorous, the satire of the royals is wicked (though a bit trite), and the results are memorable. Impossible to categorize, this novel is a series of loosely connected episodes, each more absurd than the previous one, with dark humor, satire, and word play running riot, and the reader hanging on for the wild ride. n Mary Whipple Gerontius Cooking with Fernet Branca Amazing Disgrace Playing with Water: Passion and Solitude on a Philippine Island (Twentieth Century Lives) Biography - Hamilton-Paterson, James (1941-): An article from: Contemporary Authors Online

      • Third helping: A curate's egg
        From Amazon

        I genuinely liked the first two instalments of the adventures of Gerald Samper, bonvivant, aspiring artist and chef extraordinaire, mainly for the abundance of finely honed wit, acid repartee and shamelessly camp phrasing. Basically, these virtues are still there in volume 3; but either their brilliance has really somewhat dimmed, or I have simply grown tired of the formula. I also found that the crude innuendo ever so often lurking just beneath the polished surface of the prose this time positively grated on me, though I am not aware of having turned into a prude. What's more, the central plot device, turning the late Princess Diana into an object of religious veneration and operatic endeavour, is only mildly entertaining; and the closing pages, in which Samper's opera is given its first night performance, lack any proper sense of climax despite some perfunctory stabs at farcical complications. What I cared for least were the e-mails interspersed with Samper's narration, written by his partner and addressed to some colleague; this view on Samper from outside did nothing for me to round off his character and at times was plain boring.

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