Book Review: Mr Toppit

Mr Toppit by Charles Elton

The blurb: And out of the Darkwood Mr Toppit comes, and he comes not for you, or for me, but for all of us. When the author of “The Hayseed Chronicles”, Arthur Hayman, is mown down by a concrete truck in Soho, his legacy passes to his widow, Martha, and her children – the fragile Rachel, and Luke, reluctantly immortalised as Luke Hayseed, the central character of his father’s books. But others want their share, particularly Laurie, who has a mysterious agenda of her own that changes all their lives.

For buried deep in the books lie secrets which threaten to be revealed as the family begins to crumble under the heavy burden of their inheritance. Spanning several decades, from the heyday of the British film industry after the war to the cut-throat world of show business in Los Angeles, “Mr Toppit” is a riveting tale of the unexpected effects of sudden fame and fortune. Not since Jonathan Coe’s “What a Carve Up!” has a novel managed to capture a family and a society to such wonderfully funny and painful effect.

My review: Before commencing this review I have to note that the cover of Mr Toppit is beautiful. It made me buy it from twenty steps away! Awesome. Unfortunately the book itself left me feeling distinctly flat, which is odd because it has all the makings of a beautifully written and intricate book.

I think perhaps it was the characters, its an eccentric family drama in essence, how when a famous children’s author dies the family and even the strangers in close proximity are effected forever. The American, Laurie particularly grated on me and her storyline seems out of place and more than a little bit bonkers wound around the others.

Luke and Arthur Hayman are wonderful and I particularly liked the flashbacks to a London in its post-war hey dey complete with the pre-requisite marital affairs as the characters try to break free from their stereotypes. The destruction of the family unit from individuality – exacerbated by the suddenness of fame and sharing a father with thousands of readers is the wonderfully poignant part of this book.

I think perhaps it needed to be a more focused plot or perhaps it just wasnt one for me.

6 out of 10 stars ******

BUY ME! Mr Toppit

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