Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vacation from hell or...?, 17 Nov 2009
This review is from: A Breath of French Air (Paperback)
Before I read this second novel in Herbert E Bates five book series about Pop Larkin and his family, I did the mistake of watching the DVD with the entire TV series from the early 1990s. The TV series was alright but when reading this second novel in the series, I realized that the TV series doesn't by half measure up. Bates has an extraordinary language! It is a true delight to read his description of places and people that is totally lost in the TV series. My recommendation would really be to stay away from the TV series unless one just is looking for a cozy fun series to watch on a cold winter night. Otherwise just stick to the books, they do not need to be visualized by Catherine Zeta-Jones and the like.This second novel in the series, start out with Mr. Charlton sitting reading about France and reminiscing about his childhood summers in Bretagne and the fantastic hotel he had stayed in there. Since the summer has rained away, Ma starts wishing for a holiday, beaches and sun, so she listens carefully to Charley's rantings. Before he knows it, Pop has been persuaded to take the entire family to Bretagne and to the same hotel Charley stayed in as a boy before the war. Charley and Mariette Larkin has by now been married for a year and Pop is deeply disappointed that they have not produced a grandchild so he feels that a vacation in France might do the trick and decides that they will go for an entire month. When the family arrives, the hotel is not so grand anymore nor as big as Charley remembered it. And the weather is ghastly for three days so that the family is close to returning home. Not only does Larkin's state of unwed couple meet with disapproval at the hotel, but Ma's body size and all the seven children as well. Because Ma has had a new addition during the year that has gone between the first book and the second. When the hotel owner starts thinking that Pop might be aristocracy, everything improves for the family and they get some wonderful memories to bring home. The book is hilarious at places like when a jealous Charley get very drunk and runs around on the beach puncturing all beach balls so that the "froggies" can't throw them Mariette's way and flirt with her. Pop Larkin's admiration for the fairer sex can get get a little tedious to read about but luckily he has a very understanding "wife" and if she can accept his gazing, so must I as a reader. All in all, it is a fun book to read and as "shocking" as the first one since this is a very eccentric family. One ought to read them in order though since they build on each other.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 May 2013 19:53:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 May 2013 19:57:32 BDT
Joe Bloggs says:
Sorry, but you're totally wrong about the TV series. It was a wonderful series that stayed faithful to the spirit of the books (at least the ones which were adapted for the TV series), with H.E. Bates' son overseeing the series. I did watch the TV series first, and up until then had never heard of H.E. Bates. I then went on to collect many of his novels and short stories. You cannot expect a TV series to cram in every single detail of the books, so saying they don't stand up to the books isn't really fair. Now when I read the Larkin stories I can't invisage pop as anyone but David Jason, so true to the book's Pop Larkin is his portrayal. I enjoy the books and the TV series in equal measure.

P.S. As you're from Sweden, perhaps you don't realise that David Jason was the star of the series, not Catherine Zeta-Jones. David Jason is one our most loved actors, and as appeared in many TV shows, comedies, dramas, etc, as well as winning many awards.
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