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4.6 out of 5 stars63
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 1 July 2007
If you yearn for the nostalgia of post World War Two, rural England, coupled with romance, friendship, family & humour, then this book is surely a must.
This is one of the most enjoyable books of pure escapism, I think I have ever read.
The Larkins are a joy. The TV series was brilliant but the books, I feel, are on an even higher plain.
This is the first of the Larkin tales,where Mr Charlton from the Inland Revenue pays the Larkins a visit but falls in love (with the way of life, the countryside & of course, Mariette) & never leaves (& to be fair why would he ?)
My top tip - buy every Larkin book you can get your hands on & indeed, the DVD of the TV series (if you can get hold of a copy of the complete "Pop Larkin Chronicles",in effect an omnibus of all the Larkin tales,prepare for late nights & cessation of discussion with family members, as you plough throgh the lot !) - this book,as with them all, is a real treat.
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on 28 June 2013
I paid £5.49 for this kindle book, which is incredibly short at 144 print pages. (Many light fiction books are £1-3 for about 400 pages.)
Thus, this is a very enjoyable book (5 star) at a very difficult price.

I am a female university researcher in the 18-24 age bracket. I bought this book looking for feel-good, slightly funny British home fiction. I found it very satisfying, and actually much funnier than I thought it would be!

I particularly loved the relationships between the Larkin family, and the way that Ma and Pop are so lovingly portrayed as being wonderful, joyful people. Popular media would demonize, mock and humiliate them for being fat, working-class, erratically employed,"tasteless," enamored of their TV, with an unfashionable amount of children. Any single one of these traits in a fictional character is usually an immediate signal that they are the "bad guy," the butt of the joke, the ugly ones, the slobs, the welfare cheats and scum of society, etc, etc.

Instead, the Larkins - and everyone who falls into their orbit, including the reader - are absolutely convinced that they live the happiest lives on earth. They are warm and funny and welcoming and completely unshakable. They admire education, the beauties of nature, the pleasures of sex and the joy of food. They're nourishing.

I loved that. I loved that when Ma tells Pop that their unwed teenage daughter is expecting a baby (occurs in the first few pages) his reaction is happiness and delight at the prospect of another child in the home. I love that Ma is described as being fat and remarkably beautiful, and that I love it's obvious that Pop can't get enough of her. They are the opposite of the typical snapping, snide, awful sitcom family (where an improbably beautiful woman is paired with a boorish slob of a husband and everyone hates each other) and they are infinitely funnier and better for it.

I would recommend it widely and highly.
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on 16 November 2009
I thought it was a great read! I had had this book recommended to me but did not know exactly what to expect. I've read the more serious book "A moment in time" by the same author and sort of expected something similar BUT this was totally different. His love of nature comes through in this book as well. But the family at the centre of this book is nothing ordinary! They are excentric, love life, live to the fullest and take nothing serious. I turned every page in shock but also in delight. I doubt anyone of us will ever come across such a crazy bunch of people but what an experience it would be to do so! If it was possible for such a family to exist, it could ONLY be in England. I am eager to start the second book in the series since I am hooked. I have indeed fallen in love with the Larkins!
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on 4 December 2009
What a great advertisement for quality yet simple indulgence!
I have never enjoyed Guinness and port so much as during and after reading this!
Lovely storylines and so readable (all over in an evening or two). Pity there are only 5 books in this series. Always prefer the books to the 'screen'.
Looking forward to the rest of the Darling Buds books (ordered).
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I hadn't realised that 'The Darling Buds of May' was a book, but I stumbled across this by accident and, seen as I love the TV programme, thought I'd give it a go.
This is the first in the 'Larkin saga'. We meet some key characters: Pop Larkin; Ma; Charley; Mariette and the story begins with Charley coming to do a tax inspection. He quickly gets thrown off course by Pop and is persuaded to stay the night. Quickly he falls in love with Mariette and gets drawn into all the money-making schemes, including strawberry picking (which was one of the funniest moments!). The story ends with a gymkhana (Mariette is wild about horses) and Charley asks her to marry him.
It lost a star because part of me wonders whether I would have enjoyed it so much if it wasn't for the TV programme. It helped me visualise a lot of the characters. Also, why does Pop go around kissing people on the lips all the time???
All in all, it's a nice, comforting read, which I would highly recommend. I have already ordered the next one ('A Breath of French Air') and am really looking forward to it arriving.

NB: The order of the books is: 'The Darling Buds of May'; 'A Breath of French Air'; 'When the Green Woods Laugh'; 'Oh! To be in England; and 'A Little of What You Fancy'.
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on 17 June 2015
Like many people I was first introduced to the Larkin family through the TV drama with the brilliant David Jason, it was one of those programs I remember from my childhood and I never realised that it was taken from a group of novels. We follow the trials and tribulations of the ever increasing family as they go about their day to day lives. Anyone familiar with the ITV adaptation will already know most of the story, very little has been changed from the original text. The only major difference is the overt sexuality present within the novels pages, in particular with the Larkin’s eldest daughter Mariette, who is not so sweet and innocent as I seem remember.....

Like most books written in the same period the novel portrays a post war idyllic life, where days can be filled with strawberry picking, eating, meadow walks and more eating. The Larkin world is changed when a good natured, slightly drippy tax inspector calls upon them to query the lack of tax returns, he soon falls for Mariette and encouraged by Ma and Pa spends an ever increasing amount of time at the farm, slowly changing his whole outlook on the world outside his office.

There are two ways of viewing this book and each will influence your outlook on the Larkin brood. On one hand we have the jolly local farmer, someone that can always be relied upon, a steadfast member of the community that although a little rough around the edges manages to charm even his most prudish neighbours. A bit of a rogue that isn’t afraid to bend the rules but all’s well that ends well. On the other hand we have a man who is tax avoider, possibly a bit of a sex pest and generally without much of a conscience (especially if it means his family are kept happy). But whatever your opinion, there is something in the book for nearly everyone.

I have only given 3 stars because there were a few things that really got on my nerves. The way ‘Pa’ speaks in dialect really grates on me. The odd ‘Perfic’ is fine, but I have always hated reading books that have characters speaking in this way. It just annoys me. The other reason was the constant reference to food, and what they were going eat, what they had eaten previously, what they would like to eat and currently eating. Sometimes it read like a cookery book. There just wasn't enough additional storyline to keep me wanting to turn the page, which was a shame.

So did I enjoy the book? I suppose in parts I did, but not enough that I would really be able to recommend it. This is the first book in a series and I am unsure if I will ever bother to seek out the rest. Having said that, there is a small part of me that wants to know what else the Larkin family may have in store for them.... so you never know.
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on 22 October 2011
Watched the TV series for the first time and enjoyed it immensely. So I thought I would buy the books. Have just finished the first one and ordered the second from Amazon. As usual the book is much better than the TV series. The 'Buds takes you back to a time when life in Britain was simple and straightforward, not taxed and regulated into misery as we are nowadays. Oh to be in England...
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on 15 April 2013
This is one of those rare books that is simply lovely. It has a nostalgic, bucolic setting and just enough story to keep it meandering along, but the triumph is in the writing and characterisation. The descriptions of people and settings paints a marvelous picture that stays with you long after you've finished the book. The characters of Pop and Ma Larkin are glorious; exaggerated perhaps but you really want for there to be people like that in the world.

The yesteryear viewpoint emphasises the modern desire to swap the urban for the rural, but that's just the setting and wonderful though it is this is a book about people and life. Read this if you want to be lifted, cheered, and warmed, but most of all read this because it's nice to smile.

P.S. Don't compare the book with the TV show. The show, brilliant though it was, is just an interpretation of Bates's work. Find your own piece of the English idyll by reading the book.
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on 22 November 2013
This book makes one laugh out loud on many pages. the Larkin family are unconventional but have the confidence which brings them through all family difficulties, loves, romances and disasters. The outcomes are not always conventional but always seem to work. so it is a true romp into the living room of a time long ago when men ruled the roost, women could be fat and loved and when political correctness and children were allowed to roam free in a loving environment. The theme of class and differences are never far away and form much of the amusing story line. One example is set up by a land owner who, against his wife's opinion wants to sell his huge, cold mansion to Larkin who will demolish it and flog off the roof etc.. The beautiful countryside of Kent is never far away and the local accent and proverbs of Larkin also makes the book a classic of that part of our beautiful country's post war history.
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on 15 November 2015
I have lost count of the times I have read The Darling Buds.
I read it first published in Penguin books as The Larkin Chronicles years before the marvellous T.V. Series starring David Jason Pam Ferries assisted by a noble cast of British Actors .
In my copy the adventures of the Larkin Family continued on through all the Larkin books in order.
If you are reading theses books by H.E. Bates for the first time how I envy you for the pleasure you have waiting for you. Having just finished Darling Buds once again. I shall be following the Larkins 'again as far as I can , then be devastated at the end, I always want to know more..and I miss them! Until the next time. Happy reading !.
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