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4.4 out of 5 stars
Rancid Pansies
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2008
It is not easy to write comic fiction. James Hamilton-Paterson is a master. Once again Gerald Samper provides us with smiles, sniggers, and outright pleasure-laughs. It is beautifuly written situation comedy with astute observation. I find myself reading some of his, apparently, more outrageous reflections on life, and then thinking with a smile and a nod, Yup! He's right. I would strongly advise any one thnking of reading this to read the first two books, "Cooking with Fernet Branca",and "Amazing Disgrace" first. Happy Reading.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The book: Part three of the Samper Saga, dealing with the life and times of Gerald Samper, aesthete, ghostwriter to the terminally stupid, and now embarked upon writing... opera. After the dramatic denouement of part II and a gastronomic faux-pas Gerald returns to Tuscany and searches for a new home and a new occupation. Both projects are embarked upon with gusto and problems, interspersed with anagrams, ideas for fantastic dishes and bitchy asides on many a subject. The eventual new occupation is suitably sensational... "It's no fun being an aesthete; one's sensibilities are constantly being outraged."

My opinion: oh, how I hope that I am not waiting for part IV in vain. Another brilliant tour de force (and farce) - such an uplifing concoction of wit and bad taste, double-entendres and spot-on criticisms of modern life. I occasionally hear the voice of Brian Sewell; the author also lets (I think) his own views through, as in "nostalgia is my private default position" or some touching insecure asides on relationships (relationseamanships?). It has me snorting with delight: think P.G. Wodehouse on poppers, Tom Sharpe on prosecco. Still, very much his own voice, Hamilton-Patterson serves up a feast for gourmets - an absolute joy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2009
Marvellous stuff: another JHP triumph: cannot understand why more people dont read this marvellous author who can be read at many levels but all with great enjoyment. A warped snigger on every page: an effete Tom Sharpe de nos jours?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2011
James Hamilton-Paterson is back on top form with Rancid Pansies. I enjoyed it a lot more than his second book in this series, and had several serious guffawing moments this time round, which I was lucky to survive! The subject and situations are, of course, absurd, which is probably what makes these stories so wonderful. A great comic writer and I hope he keeps it up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2010
I first became aware of HP's work with Seven Tenths. As an oceanography graduate I was thrilled by the book - it infused the ocean with poetry, drama and dread. I then delved into canonical works like Gerontius and the later Ghosts of Manila and Griefwork - books that cemented his place amongst my favourite (serious, heavyweight) writers. Then along came the brilliant Samper trilogy - it is testament to the man's talent that he can take a wildly different style of writing, inhabit it and attain seemingly effortless feats. The trilogy has had me bursting out in laughter on the tube, it's very, very funny. Quite cruel at times, too. For a man as incognito as HP, I suspect that Samper (as a lightly veiled, autobiographical, sketch) is the closest we will get to know what HP is actually like. A wonderful trilogy...
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on 27 April 2014
It was hard to imagine how James Hamilton-Paterson could follow-on from 'Amazing Disgrace' with such sublime and seamless ease, but the hapless Gerry Samper is at his best - and his worst - right from the beginning of 'Rancid Pansies'. Hamilton-Paterson's surgical eye for detail, his highly-attuned antennae for human foibles together with his fragile ennui that seemingly ricochets from high delight to the depths of despair in his monstrous yet undeniably lovable protagonist: arch, self-obsessed and deeply neurotic, Gerald Samper's observations on us all are unflinchingly - if buttock-clenchingly - deadly accurate.

I lost this book last week - in the course of my third reading - when a SWAT team of Ninja aircraft cleaners in Dubai took it upon themselves to view anything left in the seat pocket, even if only for an hour, as discardable. Despite my protestations to the Purser, it was clear that Gerry, Marta, the Vomiting Gorilla et al, had been irretrievably consigned to the Bin Liners of Efficiency.

Owing to, and, perhaps, in spite of, the immense disappointment of my loss, I, like Gerry, found myself at my spineless best, when, disembarking at Heathrow seven hours later, the Purser called over the heads of a dozen people standing in front of me, "what was the title again of that book you lost in Dubai?" and I replied, "Oh, James Hamilton-Paterson". My bare-faced cowardice was duly played back to me with uncalled-for rapidity by my adorable 14-year-old daughter as we walked through the aerobridge: "Dad, why didn't you say the proper name of that book when the cabin steward asked you?", she loudly enquired.

Here I am back buying another copy of 'that book' without delay.
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on 16 October 2012
Good followup to Cooking with Fernet Branca (I finally got to test the latter at our hotel bar in Trieste last week--herbal and not as bad as I expected). Anyway, Rancid Pansies is Gerry's adventures after his house plunges down a cliff during his birthday party. He sulks at the conductor, Max Christ's, house. There is an especially funny chapter here about a dinner party.. but finally Samper returns to Tuscany and sorts out his plans--thank's to Millie Cleat's best selling bio going to film, Gerry gets to follow his dream: an opera libretto about a very popular modern icon--with the music by Marta, his hairy neighbor. Read Fernet Branca first, please!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2013
This is the second book I have read by this author. I just love his style and the character he has created. The charater is funny and enternating. The book is different from the run of the mill.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2014
James Hamilton-Paterson's ability to epitomise character genres and then pull them in to the most unexpected scenario is masterly. Genius!
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on 21 June 2010
I found this the best of the three Samper novels. As usual the denouement doesn't quite fulfill its promise, and the characterisation is uneven, with many characters not remotely interesting. However the quality of JHP's writing is as high and nuanced as ever, and he does not take himself remotely seriously. The alternating narrator device is resurrected from "Cooking with Fernet Branca" but not overemphasised and as usual JHP is a delight to read.
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