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Slightly disappointing, but enjoyable enough
on 22 March 2012
There were aspects of this book that I feel anyone could enjoy, not just die-hard Stephen Fry fans. The characteristic wit and humour of Fry's works is present in this book, and I did find myself laughing out loud on occasion. The style was, I find, engaging and easy to read. Written in both first person narrative from the perspective of the protagonist Ted, and the form of letters between the various characters, the narrative moves swiftly along, after a bit of a rushed start.
Unfortunately that's where my praise of the book must end. I found many of the characters to be rather flat and one dimensional, and I don't think that any of the characters really developed over the course of the novel. It would have been nice to see the cantankerous old soak of the narrator "see the error of his ways" or, failing that, at least have a few pages of self reflection. On a related note, there are several characters who are introduced in passing and are then frequently mentioned thereafter, and I found myself becoming quite confused as to who was who.
Secondly, the plot didn't really do much for me. It's good enough, I suppose, and I'm not one to blow off books where nothing really "happens", but I found myself wondering what the "point" of the book was.
Finally, though Stephen Fry is a wizard with words, I felt that in many instances in this book he was unnecessarily crude and occasionally downright vulgar. I know this is obviously not Fry himself, but the narrator who is being crude, and perhaps I'm being somewhat of a prude, but I think the book could have done without this.
I was given this book as a gift, though after having read it, I'm not sure if I would have been able to justify spending the money on it had I bought it myself. You might be pleasantly surprised, prospective reader, but I was personally a little disappointed in this book.