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Patrick Parker's Progress [Paperback]

Mavis Cheek
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

22 Jan 2004
1940, Coventry burns, but Patrick Parker, miracle baby and man of destiny is born away from his home town, safe in London. Patrick, born out of rubble, will be a great builder of bridges. He will admire Brunel, the world will adore him - and adoring women will smooth his path to greatness.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (22 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571214525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571214525
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,669,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

This really is delightful stuff. With Patrick Parker's Progress, Mavis Cheek demonstrates once again that she is one of the wittiest and most enjoyable of writers, with a grasp of modern social comedy that puts many of her peers in the shade. Those who consider their dealings in love and sex to have been somewhat fraught will recognise many moments here.

The year is 1940, and the city of Coventry is in flames. One child miraculously escapes the flames, and is sent to London. This is Mavis Cheek's protagonist, the eponymous Patrick Parker, who has a shining future ahead of him. He is to be an architect in the vein of his idol Brunel, and build great civic structures. But things will not go as smoothly as Patrick might wish: his relationship with the determined Audrey Wapshott has seemed to be the perfect choice--she adores him, and their destinies appear to be interlinked. But Patrick then does the unthinkable--he dumps Audrey to take up with a woman who will be able to advance his career. Audrey leaves for Paris, and begins to forge a new life--and when Audrey and Patrick meet again, there will be significant changes ahead in both their lives.

As in the equally delightful The Sex Life of My Aunt, Cheek has total command of the pitfalls of human relationships--her characters (both beautifully characterised) bounce off each other in highly diverting ways, but not at the expense of a plausible narrative. Comic this may be, but it plays fair by its own internal rules. The observation here is spot on, and this is highly enjoyable fare. --Barry Forshaw


‘Cheek is a witty, original writer.' -- Sunday Telegraph

‘Nobody does satire better than Mavis Cheek . . . this is a genuinely witty book full of laugh-out-loud moments.' -- Sainsbury's Magazine

‘Warm, funny and insightful . . . hilarious, with a showdown any woman will relish.' -- Eve

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read 11 May 2004
This is the fifth Mavis Cheek novel I've read and I think she gets better with each one. If you're expecting the same book from her every time, you'll be disappointed. Mrs Fitton's Country Life and Aunt Margaret's Lover are hilarious. The Sex Life of My Aunt is moving and very perceptive. Patrick Parker's Progress is more serious, it looks at the role of women, how they've always been expected to play second fiddle to men's creativity and how their own has never been encouraged. It's a really good story with some wonderful characters. Mavis Cheek has a very particular style, which maybe you like or you don't. I love it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An amusing and thought provoking novel. 28 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mavis Cheek's books are written with a delightfully light touch. Patrick Parker's Progress is like many of her books in that its cleverly woven with a more serous theme. In this novel she weaves a well researched discussion on the construction of bridges and the need for a human face to design generally into a funny and moving story of a a woman who though slighted is never defeated. It is very funny in places too.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Bizgen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
She doesn't seem to like men very much, so is this a feminist novel? Certainly the only female in the book to be shown with any depth is Audrey.

Patrick Parker is born in wartime London in 1940 - a stroke of luck since his parents have apparently only had sex twice. His mother, Florence, looks upon him as her miracle child and is a shocking warning to doting mothers - encouragement is one thing, but bringing a boy up to believe himself a god is another. For a while, one can see that he had the makings of a rather nice little boy, if it weren't for his mother.

His father is the only really likeable male in the book, and we feel sorry for him as he is sidelined. But he does have Lilly and trots upstairs with her on every half day closing day. And he does have enough time with Patrick to ignite in him an interest in model-making. From there to architecture and thence, to Brunel and bridges.

Audrey is under his thrall from the beginning, and the reader can see that she is just as intelligent, if not more so, but even as a small girl, she must not threaten his self belief. We see her building up his ego by hiding her own intelligence. Nowhere is this more apparent than when they are both in London and climbing the tree - or would have been climbing the tree of he had not been stopped by his mother. He draws a plan using the branches he watches Audrey use in climbing and she pretends that he has invented something clever. Then she shows him a spiders web and we can see him suddenly appreciating her explanation of its tensile strength and looking at her with new eyes.
Brunel becomes his hero and nothing is going to stop Patrick from his following in the great man's footsteps to create the most beautiful bridges the world has ever seen.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Holiday Reading 5 May 2004
Just had to tell you I've finished reading "Patrick Parker's Progress" which I didn't want to put down. This is the second novel I've read by Cheek, the 1st was "Mrs. Fytton ..." which I thought made wonderful holiday reading. This one though I enjoyed because of the arty and architectural background but above all I identified with Audrey - I enjoy Cheek's unobtrusive feminism.

Other books I've read and enjoyed are: Sue Gee's "Hours of the Night, Jane Urquhart's "The Underpainter" and"The Stone Carvers", Mary Stanley's "Revenge",Jane Gardam "Faith Fox" and most of Anita Shreve's novels. Please let Mavis Cheek know there are a few intelligent readers out here thirsting for more. Thank you.
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