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Utter Folly: A high comedy of bad manners [Paperback]

Paul Bassett Davies
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.49
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Book Description

22 Dec 2012
‘A very funny novel’ – Jack Dee UTTER FOLLY is a wicked comedy about an English country house weekend. When a young man visits a well-to-do friend’s family he learns some harsh lessons about love, loyalty, and the landed gentry, as his friend’s barely-legal sister tried to seduce him, he becomes a suspect in the efforts of a deranged policeman to nail a local retired rock star for drug trafficking, and ends up with all his illusions about the upper classes – including his friends – demolished. English country life will never be the same again after this story of the upper crust at its most half baked, peopled with eccentric characters and memorable events, including a village fete that turns into a riot, nude family sunbathing and a touch of S&M. Behind the hedges and the high stone walls, strange games are being played and none of them is croquet.

Product details

  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: writertype press; 1 edition (22 Dec 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0957509901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957509900
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 14.6 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 659,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The day after I got thrown out of one of Britain's most prestigious theatre schools I started my own multimedia performance company. I realised it was the only way I would get to appear on a public stage now that everyone else agreed I shouldn't be allowed to. I began writing so I'd have something to say when I got there. The company flourished for ten years and then some of us formed an anarcho-surrealist punk band. I was the vocalist, and I use that word instead of 'singer' out of respect for singers. When a big record label got interested we immediately disbanded on principle. Or maybe on drugs, I forget.

During this time I also worked as a cab driver, a dj in a strip club, and a welder's mate, which isn't the same thing as a welder's friend; in my experience it's a terrified person who carries extremely heavy welding equipment along narrow girders very high up off the ground while the welder drinks tea and laughs at him.

Encouraged by being an object of ridicule I became a comedy writer. I wrote for many of the successful British radio and TV shows of the time, including Spitting Image, Smith and Jones, Rory Bremner, and Jasper Carrot. I wrote a BBC radio sitcom with Jeremy Hardy, and an award-winning show with Griff Rhys Jones and Graeme Garden, called 'Do Go On,' which I also produced. I wrote radio plays, which the BBC broadcast, with actors like Bill Nighy, Alison Steadman and David Hemmings. I was lucky enough to work with Spike Milligan, twice.

I also worked in the corporate world, which was my film school: I wrote more than fifty short films, and directed some of them. Later I made short films of my own, and I also wrote the screenplay for the feature animation movie The Magic Roundabout. I've also written a screenplay about underground comic book heroes The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, working with their creator, Gilbert Shelton. The film is in pre-production, where it's been for the last ten years. Somewhere along the way I also wrote music videos for Ken Russell and Kate Bush.

Meanwhile, I was also writing short stories, some of which were published and won awards, and eventually I began writing a novel. In truth I'd been thinking about the story for many years but I only began to write it when I was diagnosed with a serious illness. The world I created in the book was a place where I could escape from my illness, and I made it as engaging and funny as possible because I wanted to spend as much time there as I could. I hope you feel the same way. I don't mean I hope you have a serious illness; I mean I hope you enjoy being in that world, too. I've recovered from the illness now, but I'll never recover from writing.

My new sitcom, 'Reception,' is on BBC Radio 4 in June 2013.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Farcical fun 28 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I love that this book is so quintessentially English, set in an English village and country house. The whole style, setting and quirky humour does have a Tom Sharpe feel about it and is very similar to the The Dealer (also highly recommended) which I had only just finished reading, so it was a joy reading Utter Folly straight off the back of it, it kept the Tom Sharpe-esque vibe going. A few people have commented on the bad language - it didn't bother me, but if you are offended by profanities, you'd best keep away. All in all, this is a quirky, page-turning, book that I enjoyed reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best 2.49 I didn't spend 5 Jan 2013
By Jeff
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great read!

I got this book as a free download to my Kindle when it was first released, but its well worth the 2.49 price tag it costs 'full price.' Witty and amusing, this is essentially an English Country farce in a contemporary and modern setting. Crucially, the story (just about) manages to cling on to credibility and believe-ability, avoiding the problem of farce descending into, err, farce. The characters are flawed, silly and stupid, but I couldn't help but grow to like them all.

The obvious comparison is with Tom Sharp - if you enjoy his books, you'll enjoy this. I doubt it'll win any major literary prizes but it made me laugh and made me look forward to picking it up again each evening. Buy it, you'll probably enjoy it!

Oh, and my home town made a brief cameo appearance as Daphne Longbourne's home town, so that was a nice surprise!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utter Joy 18 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Paul Bassett Davies has a hit on his hands methinks. I zipped through the book in no time flat and it was a delight - utter joy indeed. I can't wait for the next installment.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utter Folly, which is entirely the point. 16 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've often worried about what I'll do when I reach the end of the canon of English pastoral comic novels. Tom Sharpe isn't getting any younger and worryingly P. G. Wodehouse isn't getting any older. Worse, the national treasure that is Stephen Fry seems to have abandoned novels altogether so I've given up hope on further Liars or Hippopotami. It's all a bit grim really.

Of course, you can find flashes of brilliance if you look for them. Kyril Bonfiglioli's Mortdecai books were splendid, but he too is dead. Leslie Thomas' books describe things that could have happened, so are not always suitable.

I was just about to write my own, about a thirties dance-hall announcer who liked them young, when @thewritertype (Paul Bassett Davies, as he is known to those of his friends he has met) popped-up on my Twitter timeline and the morning stars sang.

Utter Folly is a brilliant debut novel which is both fresh and evocative. The voice is clear, modern and eloquent while still harking back to the golden age of English novels, which lasted from the First World War until whichever day Martin Amis got his teeth done.

The novel follows the adventures of a modern man invited into the bosom of an old family seemingly oblivious of anything beyond their cozy existence. He is there because he is reliable, solid and likely to do as he is told. When, however, it becomes obvious to him that doing that which is expected of him could have unfortunate consequences it is clear that he must take drastic steps to do as little as possible. A modern, English hero.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By J. Kaye
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great fun, wonderful characters - an innocent caught up in the mad goings-on at a house and village in the Cotswolds
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 19 Jan 2013
I originally downloaded this book free on my wife's kindle. I finally got the opportunity to read it myself and very quickly realised what a great read it was, so good that I actually paid for a download to my newly purchased kindle. I'm looking forward to follow up! Thanks for a great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrifically funny 18 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Bought this on a whim, having seen it recommended on Twitter, and didn't regret it for one second. On the contrary, the book achieved the rare feat of making me (quite literally) laugh out loud with its comic timing.

The eccentric cast is economically but memorably (and believably) evoked, the settings are vivid and the set-ups beautifully weighted to stay just this side of credible. Above all, the authorial voice retains sufficient circumspection to have us laughing at his two 'eyepiece' characters, while also empathising with their predicaments. Indeed, the poise was such that, at times, I expected the plot to develop more intricately, possibly farcically, than it did, but no matter: what we have is still a rich and eminently readable set of comic vignettes, with enough of a thread to make it all jolly satisfying in the end.

I particularly loved the glimpses of domestic strife amid the supporting cast, the numerous, deftly-judged depictions of hypocrisy, and - of course - the scene in the church, which joyously blended satire and slapstick to really impressive effect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read 5 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've read a few apparently "published for Kindle" type books and they have in the main disappointed, often being highly derivative works by enthusiastic but unpolished amateurs. Utter Folly is completely different. Paul Bassett Davies is clearly a proper writer.

While the basic premise of lower-middle-class-urban-type-does-posh-country-house-weekend is ripe for stereotypical one-dimensional characters, they never really turn up. Some appear so at first encounter, but as protagonist James gets to know them through individual encounters they all become multi-faceted and believable people in their own right. Some of them, eccentric as they are, I'm certain that I've met in real life. There are lots of little observations by James, interactions between characters and general descriptive details that have no bearing on the plot but simply add to the believability of it all. Other reviewers have mentioned Tom Sharpe, I would add to that a measure of Nick Hornby.

Oh, and it's an excellent read.

The narrative builds nicely and I found it a really enjoyable page turner. James' tale is very funny whilst that of his would-be nemesis Jarvis is hilarious. The ending, for me, didn't quite live up to the promise of what preceded it, but that genuinely would have been a big ask due to the quality of what comes before. It certainly didn't stop me immediately re-reading it, and I struggle to remember the last time that I've done that (I suspect it was the His Dark Materials trilogy, one my all time favourites).

Heartily recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Bawdy, picaresque, and laugh-out-loud
A bawdy, picaresque, laugh-out-loud tale of upper-class English foibles. I devoured it in a couple of sittings. Take a copy on hols, sit back, and enjoy...
Published 21 minutes ago by KH
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring. Stereotypical.
I've struggled on but I'm having to give up on this book. It's just boring. it's like the author picked out stock phrases and stereotypes, chucked them all in a blender and Utter... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Galros
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny stereotypes but also fun read
Easy reading, quite a lot of setting the scene, it is a believable story though perhaps with a bit too many stereotypes.
Published 3 months ago by J. Ruao
5.0 out of 5 stars Mad as a box of frogs!
A great yarn in the great tradition of Blott on the landscape.

Very funny and surprisingly erotic in places!

Great fun!
Published 5 months ago by Ian Phipps
4.0 out of 5 stars A light piece of literary fluff to while you time.
I liked this book for purely escapism purposes.
Not a particularly funny book but with enough characters and plot to hold your attention.
Good for a light read.
Published 9 months ago by Donna
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and funny
Like many of the other reviews I found this book incredibly English - in a good way. Indeed it was so entertaining and easy to read I felt like I'd been a mini break to the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mcbeast
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambivalent...
I'm a bit ambivalent about this book - I really, really enjoyed the first fifty pages which made me laugh a lot. Read more
Published 10 months ago by V. G. Harwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Cliched but a bit of fun
Read on holiday, it takes a while to warm up, plot a bit clichéd in the 'eccentric english' vain. Wouldn't say funny but is amusing.
Published 10 months ago by A Kilburn
5.0 out of 5 stars Utter Genius
This is sheer comic brilliance. Two utterly compelling main plots, destined to collide and cause major hilarity, twirl and dance before your eyes. I could not put it down. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Rustic Rod
4.0 out of 5 stars Glad I decided to read it
nearly didnt as Im getting fed up with lowbrow tosh on kindle ebooks and was about to delete this prior to opening it but didn't, so... Read more
Published 12 months ago by ANDY
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