Anatomy of a Book: To the Manor Born, by Peter Spence

tn_28256If one had been present at the moment Rolls met his Royce, Marks his Spencer, or Gilbert his Sullivan, one might have sensed something historic was in the air. (p.5)

This first sentence is about the British and about unions, and thus is the book.

‘Still, if that’s your attitude, I suppose you won’t be convinced that you’re on to a lost cause until the walls of Grantleigh really are splattered red with family blood.’ (p.26)

The setup is that Audrey fforbes-Hamilton is to lose the family estate.

‘Blue, Arnold, blue,’ she corrected. (p.27)

The humour is in how she goes about getting it back, and humour stories follow the basic of storytelling very cleanly.

Changing Status:

‘I told you in confidence the other day that we are down to using two-star petrol in the Rolls… (p.136)

High Stakes:

‘…stay here and watch De Vere turn the place into an amusement arcade for foreigners or whatever.’ (p.64)

Page Turner:

‘You lost a husband – I lost a wife…’ (p.216). The “will they won’t they” conundrum of new Grantleigh owner Mr De Vere and nearby ex-resident Mrs fforbes-Hamilton. This is coupling dilemma is in keeping with any romantic-comedy.

Believable Characters:

‘But, madam, as butler, this is not really within the province of my duties.’ (p.151). Secondary characters are shallow, and the ridged nature gives them humour. Main characters play to a wider form, but still stay much to form for humour.

Educate:

‘…till now I regarded the country as a sort of soft cushion to stop the towns bumping into each other and getting damaged.’ (p.137)

There is some care given to the township as its people, while it is a shame that in 1979 (when first published) there is also some reinforcement of elitist doctrine and racism:

‘What do you expect of the Spaniards?’

‘Almost anything – if they can build their capital city in the middle of a desert, they’re capable of anything.’ (p.56)

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