I caught some of this on Rad4 Extra and decided to put right my having read none of Priestley's works. Mine is the Kindle version. The introduction by two well known TV names praised it massively and, quite simply, to me it didn't deliver. Roy Hudd was one, the other I've forgotten.
Not one likeable character in a lacklustre plot where the major interest was a weak romantic core to events based on a group of travelling variety-theatre players, who were a real mixed bag of a cast, from a past-her-sell-by-date actress reduced to being a comic's foil, to a clever magician who was also a real Dick Dastardly offstage, to a washed up ex-comedian close to being booed off the stage on a regular basis. To this is added a young man who is the magician's nephew, recently employed to replace an aide who is leaving. To this youngster is given a maturity beyond his years, and he is the central character, the teller of the tale. Which is related in the form of a large flash-back to the teller's youth, as recounted fictionally to Priestley by a fictional artist of his own creation.
The story line is little more than loose framework on which to hang a set of discordant character sketches, pretty much all of whom are shoddy or without charisma. I'd have liked Uncle-Magician to have been a bit more 3-D than he was, but he remains a bit too cardboard-cutout for me. If Priestley wanted to paint a distasteful sketch of variety theatre and to infer that its cast is largely a bunch of misfits with wildly varying talents and backstabbing tendencies, then he's done what he set out to do. But I didn't enjoy reading about it.
It may be that I'm a reader too unsophisticated to appreciate levels of this book that are accessible to others, in which case I wish them well with it. To me the writing was of unremarkable quality, but there was a shallow crust of dislikeable reality here and there in dialogue and in events.
But I remained outside the happenings, interested in them only from the point that I don't like to admit defeat and fail to finish a book.
On this occasion I was glad when the final page arrived, and it could be put away. Unlike many of my books, I doubt is this will be read a second time. But unlike a used paperback, the kindle version can't be donated to the charity shop!