on 15 July 2011
Not up to his usual standard.
Usually Tom Holt's goofy out of place main characters are quite easy to identify with, and as they are exposed to whatever strange new worlds they discover during the book you share their exploration of those worlds. However this book was more of a random collection of kooky (but generally boring) scenes with little continuity and very little chance for the reader to start liking the characters.
The only funny bits involve the fact that some of the characters are turned into barnyard animals, even so it's a stretch.
A so-so enjoyable read but very bitty, I didn't find myself engrossed and struggled to keep going through to the end where the plot was finally revealed.
on 17 June 2011
If you're a fan of Tom Holt then you already know what a good storyteller he is.
He is always well written,witty and humourous.
his only fault is he sometimes gets to clever and convoluted for his own good-but i wouldn't miss reading him even though he makes my head hurt sometimes.
So if you have read his other books and liked them,you will enjoy this one too.
If you are new to tom holt, go and read "Expecting someone taller","Who's Afraid of Beowulf?","Flying Dutch" and "The "Portable Door", before trying this one.
For me Tom Holt is one of those authors who can, like Robert Rankin, take the bizarre and unusual, add a good dollop of the weird, a dash of decent prose and then add a huge spoonful of humour and create a wonderful mayonnaise title that works well for everyone. Unfortunately, like any mayonnaise, it doesn't matter how much time or love you put into it if the damn thing splits you've got to start from scratch.
For me this title was one that had huge potential, it blended realities, broke its way through the walls holding it back and literally blew the whole thing apart and that's where it lost me. I had up until that point been really enjoying this book, the characters were vivid, the tone light and above all else I love the author's humour, but as things ended up more complex, the less I started to follow everything to the full and as such began to care less and less about the characters. It's a great shame when that happens as finishing a book or absorbing what's happening can become more than a chore and can leave you thinking why the hell do I bother.
That said it does have some saving moments but my favourite series is going to remain the JWW series featuring Paul Carpenter. Although I still want a book with Dennis' Mum and the lead character.
on 15 October 2013
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages begins with a pig's eye view of the universe. An old saddleback sow is musing on the meaning of life, the metaphysical nature of reality and the exact location of her piglets. In the course of her life she has watched as seven broods of her little ones have been taken across the farmyard and corralled into a metal trailer, never to be seen again. This is clearly very odd. Seizing an opportunity to bust out of the pen [do you see what I did there?] this very special piggy sets of on a journey far more fantastical than even she had anticipated.
Meanwhile, the decidedly non-pork-based solicitor Polly Mayer is also pondering on the peculiar nature of her own personal reality. She has recently started working in the conveyancing department of Blue Remembered Hills Developments PLC and is a reluctant conscript to the company darts team. Even stranger, someone has been drinking her coffee, making slapdash attempts at doing her work and impersonating her nice phone voice. Fearing that she might be going mad, Polly could at least take comfort in the fact that it was only her working life that seemed to have followed a diversion into the Twilight Zone. Until, that is, she goes to collect a dress from the dry-cleaners and discovers that it isn't there anymore. The dry-cleaners that is, although by extension also the dress.
And then things start to get strange.
Like the majority of Tom Holt's books, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages is a great mix of the fantastical and the funny, although the story is perhaps a bit slower to get started than usual. Claims that Holt "twists the reader's mind like a wet dishrag" are certainly apt here as he leads us on an intergalactic expedition through a space-time continuum that has taken a severe turn for the weird.
While Polly is a great heroine, her brother Don's Sherlockian investigations into the existence and potential uses of magic [and, specifically, of a magical pencil sharpener], as well as the mysteriously absent past of her boss Mr Huos, are the real stand-out human elements of the story. On the non-human front, the highly intelligent and analytically-minded pigs, picky though they may be, and the practical applications of Sow's Constant are a delight. I'm also rather fond of the lawyer chickens.
Proving that very little can top tales of trans-dimensional pigs and parallel words, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages is another great satirical offering from Tom Holt that entertains thoroughly while effortlessly moving between the silly and the smart.
on 14 July 2013
Whilst being an enjoyable enough book, I don't think it's one of Tom Holt's best.
As usual, the story is well surreal and at times confusing, but on looking up other reviews, I discovered that that particular confusion was on purpose.
Overall an OK book.
on 10 August 2015
imageAs you can see this bills itself as a tale of “transdimensional tomfoolery”, in short think Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams but set in suburbia instead of on discworld or in space.
It all starts when Polly, an utterly ordinary property lawyer, notices that someone keeps drinking her coffee. That would normally be the kind of annoyance that could start a passive-aggressive version of world war three in a British office, but whoever it is seems to also be talking to her clients. And doing her job. As if this isn’t weird enough she then goes to the dry cleaner’s to pick up her dress for the party, it’s not there. The dry cleaner’s that is, although by extension the dress is missing too.
Her brother, a jingle-writing musician with time on his hands is enlisted to help and ends up possessing a magic pencil sharpener. A disappearing housing estate is thrown into the mix and then there are the chickens who think they are people.
This was one of the many books I download from Audible, I see no reason why small details like having to drive a car or do housework should get in the way of my reading pleasure! However in this case listening to the audio book lessened my pleasure. For me, listening to an audio book will usually take longer than reading it, this book was 15 hours and 34 minutes long. Now that’s not a problem usually, in fact I’m tearing through a 12 hour book at the moment. But when a story is as convoluted and as nonsensical as this it makes it hard.
But that wasn’t the biggest problem, there were several others. First the main characters were not just ordinary, they were mundane, created purely for the author to send them up. That made it kind of hard to feel any real sympathy for them or to care about their unusual plight. The reader of the story excacerbated this by giving Polly’s brother a really nasally, sneery voice.
The story itself was mildly entertaining, but tried too hard to be clever and didn’t succeed. If you are a fan of Terry Pratchett and have a long summer holiday stretching ahead of you then it may be worth it for you. Though I’d suggest reading either Sir Terry himself or giving Ben Aaronovitch a try.
This review was first posted on The BookEaters Blog - [...]
on 26 May 2011
It feels as if this book has a cast of thousands - appropriately enough, since it's one of the ways in which the writing reflects the book's structure and theme, which unfolds gradually, although the reader begins to suspect what's going on well before the characters do.
Polly is a conveyancer for property developer Mr Huon. Her brother is a musician. When Polly notices that strange things are happening in her office - including the appearance of the word HELP in her diary - she turns to her brother for assistance, but he's preoccupied by his own problems. These began after he found a pencil sharpener in the pocket of a coat he'd collected from the dry cleaners. He tries to return it, but the dry cleaners has disappeared. Actually, we learn, the shop has moved, rather to the surprise of its owners, but they soon learn to adapt. Oh, and there's something nasty happening in the downstairs loo. It happens every day, at the same time. There's quite a few disappearances, in fact - piglets, people, a housing estate - and appearances can, of course, be deceiving.
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages is familiar fare from Tom Holt, right down to the amusing title - if you know and like his work you're on safe ground, because this is a good one (for me, at least, he can be just a little hit or miss, though there are more hits than misses). You're not going to get to know the characters as well as in some, because it's not a very linear story, but he's good at creating people you like at once - here, the white and black knights are a good example, you're immediately caught up in their dilemma, and in how it links in to the rest of the story.
What all this reminds me of most - even down to the title - is Douglas Adams. Holt has been moving in that direction for some time - ever since, I think, The Portable Door (which is very good). I don't mean to imply that his writing is derivative - it's not, his voice is quite definitely his own - but that the philosophical bent feels like Adams, and the explorations of the possible permutations of a recognisable universe. Because it is recognisable - people react in familiar ways, so that it's easy to imagine yourself in place of Polly, or of Kevin who suddenly finds that he's a chicken. (If you were ever curious to know how that would feel, look no further!) Okay, Kevin's no Gregor Samsa - it's more Chicken Run than Metamorphosis - but Holt's not aiming for profundity, just fun with a little wry social comment on the side. And he does that very well.
on 15 June 2011
Slower going than his other comic/magic novels, but a good read.
A few loose ends like where did Trevor get the petrol for his car, when he had left it on the road? and how did the piglets turn into people when Mr Huos still had the ring through his nose before entering the box? Where did the knights fit in?
I think it gets too complicated, and the 'explanations' don't hold together well
on 20 December 2013
Tom Holt is usually quite good at building a lead character, or set of leads, and whisking you away for the ride with them. I don't feel this book does that. The characters seem to lack depth or you just can't call them "mates". It also lacks the atmosphere generated in stories like "The Portable Door". But maybe that's just me.
It's amusing in places, but not laugh out loud, and mostly confusing, but maybe that's the point.
This would be a great read on a long plane journey, or anywhere that you will read it in big chunks rather than a few pages here and there. You need to be alert and taking it all in to follow the thread. Still, it's miles better than a lot of other stuff out there. If you are new to Tom Holt, don't start on this one. Try "The Portable Door" or "Expecting Someone Taller".
on 27 February 2013
I have been an avid Tom Holt reader for many years now and have yet to feel 'let down' by any of the stories.
I love the diversity of the humour and characters and the many times I laugh out loud at what is writtten. Taking normal people and putting them into extraordinary situations but making it all seem...well...normal is a talent worth having and flaunting!