Take a nervous young Englishman on his gap year. Drop him into a ghastly Kenya prep school in the middle of Rider Haggard country. A school where cricketing news comes by carrier pigeon, leopards are assaulted with a red-hot poker, and runaway boys are hunted down with spearmen and a pack of foxhounds…
For Martin Riddle, the experience is unforgettable. For the riding mistress, Lady Bullivant, it is all part of the day’s work. And for the headmaster, a disreputable ex-Guards officer, it is simply a means of staving off bankruptcy for a few more weeks.
As for the Masai, tennis may be on the curriculum at Haggard Hall, but midnight meetings with naked warriors definitely are not!
‘The funniest book I have read since David Lodge’s Small World’ – Sunday Times
‘Wickedly funny’ – Daily Mail
‘Less savage than Evelyn Waugh, Best is every bit as sharp… an immensely enjoyable book’ – Evening Standard
‘Very good entertainment’ – Sir Alec Guinness
(Sunday Times book of the year)
About the Author
Nicholas Best grew up in Kenya, of Anglo-Irish origin, and was educated there, in England, and at Trinity College, Dublin. He served a spell in Britain’s Grenadier Guards, during which he was airlifted to Belize to prevent its invasion by Guatemalan tanks - an experience that gave him his first short story (in Penthouse) and a satirical novel Where were you at Waterloo? Thereafter he worked in London as a financial journalist before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of Happy Valley: the Story of the English in Kenya, Tennis and the Masai (a comic novel later serialised on Radio 4) and more than a dozen history books, including Trafalgar, The Greatest Day in History (a Waterstone's recommendation of the month) and Five Days that shocked the World, about the end of World War Two. He was the Financial Times fiction critic for ten years and has written also for BBC Radio 4, the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times, Observer and Times Literary Supplement etc. In 2010, he was long-listed for the inaugural Sunday Times-EFG Private Bank short story award of £25,000, the biggest short story prize in the world. He lives in Cambridge, England.