Victor Canning’s books are experiencing a revival, and I have the first of a three part series based on a 45 year old solicitor’s assistant, Edgar Finchley and his first ever ‘holiday’ after years of working. Recently re-released by Farrago Books, please read on for
Mr. Finchley Discovers His England
Set in 1934, Edgar Finchley is a proper and rather single-minded man, at 45 he’s been the chief clerk at the same solicitor’s firm for years and never taken a holiday. But, changes are coming in the business after his boss’ death, and now with Mr. Sprake in charge, Edgar has been told he MUST take 3 weeks for a holiday. Not entirely sure just what to do with himself, but excited at the prospect with an open calendar and sufficient funds, he’s headed to catch a train. Finding himself with time to spare, he takes the first of many unexpected steps and simply takes a seat on a bench, watching the world go by. Soon after settling himself, he is asked by a man in a Bentley to “mind his car’ as the man has a quick bit of business to attend to, and it appears that Mr. Finchley is trustworthy. Thus begins his three week adventure, wholly unexpected and unscripted…..
Mr. Finchley is soon embroiled in a car chase (without his actual understanding), finding himself meeting and seeing much of the countryside without actually making any real choices as to direction. He’s the ultimate good sport – trying to maintain his certain sort of ‘dignity’ in some of the most unexpected (and new to him) circumstances. Always he remains open and honest, even when those he meets aren’t necessarily so, and while he finds himself at the wrong end of the stick often: including a blackened eye from a gypsy, a conniving maid, inside a circus, even spending time with a group of bagpiping Scots. It almost seems that trouble is bound to happen wherever he goes, and fortunately for us, he’s not particularly stuffy about these events, he’s simply seeking to get on with things and move on after adding yet another ‘tick’ to his boxes of life experienced.
So much action and adventure is packed into this little book, and Mr. Finchley truly does find a sense of the ‘variety’ of characters to be found in “his England”, many of whom he had never thought of, or perhaps even knew of, before his holiday. Originally released in the 1970’s, and set in the 1930’s, Canning was a favorite of many and the language, settings and even the pacing are sure to please fans who like the more ‘classic’ settings and pacing of novels from that era. The language feels somewhat ‘dated’, but clearly accessible in this look back at a gentler time – one that perhaps really wasn’t as the drumbeats of war were sounding in Europe, the story was engaging, entertaining and often dancing around the stereotypical. An amusing read when something totally different, action packed and paced with a relaxed and steady forward march.
Title: Mr. Finchley Discovers His England
Author: Victor Canning
Genre: British, Classic, Humor elements, Literary Fiction, Pre World War II, Setting: Britain, Travelogue
Published by: Farrago
Published on: 18 April, 2019 (Re-Release)
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Mr Edgar Finchley, unmarried solicitor's clerk, aged 45, is told to take a holiday for the first time in his life. He decides to go to Margate. But Fate has other plans in store…
From his abduction in a Bentley by a cheerful crook, to his smuggling escapade off the south coast, the timid but plucky Mr Finchley is plunged into a series of the most astonishing and extraordinary adventures.
His rural adventure takes him gradually westward through the English countryside and back, via a smuggling yacht, to London.
Jerome Jerome meets Mr Bean in this gentle comedy series, which was a runaway bestseller on first publication in the 1930s and retains a timeless appeal today. It has been dramatized twice for BBC Radio, with the 1990 series regularly repeated.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.