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The Charmer Paperback – 27 Apr 1989

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (27 April 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140120432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140120431
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,408,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Ralph Gorse appears to be a charmer in every way--he is handsome, suave, and full of style--but his true nature is that of a con man and sexual adventurer, and no one is safe from his machinations.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first book by Patrick Hamilton that I have read. It won't be the last. He has a wonderful way of describing his characters by not holding back about their human flaws. Highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting portrayal of suburban middle-class England, circa 1928 28 Feb. 2014
By SaigonSteve - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read this book,as well as having seen "The Charmer" on Masterpiece Theater some 20 years ago(as well as owning the DVD), the book is worth reading,either before or after watching the DVD(very highly recommended).
The book version of "The Charmer," originally "Mr. Stimpson and Mr. Gorse" takes place in 1928,in Reading,a suburban,middle-class town. Stimpson and Gorse are the protagonists,Mrs. Joan Plumleigh-Bruce is the woman they both desire,for very different reasons. Gorse,young,attractive,and very devious wants her money,Stimpson,very middle aged and set in his ways,wants her for a wife. Gorse is the intruder,the fresh upstart,the interloper,upsetting the same rather dull,tedious life that Stimpson and Plumleigh-Bruce have been leading.

The book gives a detailed, intricate,picture of middle class 1920s England; the speech,attitudes, and perceptions through the minds and mouths of the book's characters. The
story revolves around the swindling of a widowed,middle class woman by a slick,good-looking young man. The ending of the book has a surprise,although nothing of note happens to Gorse.

The book's weak point: The author gets very tedious on several occasions. He treats us, twice in the book, to listing clues to crossword puzzles a character is working on,for a page or 2, and treats us to various word choices that a character is working on for a poem he is trying to get published in the newspapers. I could find no real relevance to the story being told, and skipped over these irrelevant trivia.

While I have given the book 4 stars,I would give 5 stars to the Masterpiece Theater version,available on DVD. The screenplay kept the characters intact and true to the book,for the most part,but the screenplay jazzed up the story in a very effective way,making a somewhat slow(in parts),plodding book fast-paced. The screen version also effectively draws to a close the story of Mr. Stimpson,Mr. Gorse, and Mrs. Joan Plumleigh-Bruce. The book's ending is quite different,and certainly not as final as the screenplay's.

Finally,I recommend reading the book,if this genre and setting interests you. After you read the book,treat yourself to the DVD(that's 5 stars). If you've already seen the screenplay,read the book. It's interesting and different enough from the screenplay to spend time reading. If you have not seen "The Charmer," and have not read the book,watch the DVD.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When how much of the conversation has been overheard is unknown 9 Jun. 2010
By Mary E. Sibley - Published on
Format: Paperback
Mrs. Plumleigh-Bruce is a colonel's widow and a product of the Anglo-Indian set. Her vanity is insatiable. Ralph Gorse is the son of a commercial artist He loves trickery, a mixture of Bertie Wooster and Satan.

The writer is funny. For example, the pub, The Friar, has been 'ye-olded' recently. The house of Mrs. Plumleigh-Bruce is filled with brass objects. At one point Hamilton refers to it as the brasserie. It is situated in a neighborhood of garden gnomes.

Donald Stimpson is an estate agent and a friend of Joan Plumleigh-Bruce. He is a plodder and does not see Gorse as a rival. The author demonstrates that Gorse has method. He goes for the long shot. He investigates the social and financial circumstances of acquaintances by listening carefully. All of this is unpleasant and striking in the manner of Shirley Jackson.

The book has been used as the basis of a mini-series.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charmed, I'm Sure 27 Mar. 2002
By Espoo Famagusta - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you're looking for a tightly written, disciplined thriller,
a la Dorothy Sayers, this is not the book for you. However, if you like pitchperfect satirical writing on a par with Kingsley Amis, "the Charmer" will leave you as sweetly satisfied as a strychnine petit four.
Hamilton is an oddly overlooked novelist. His plays "Rope" and "Gaslight" (from "Angel Street") garnered him welldeserved attention, but his novels are brilliant, and I don't understand why they're out of print. "The Charmer" is a portait of four suburban British self-deluded "normal" people, each playing out his or her own fantasy of who he/she fancies himself, while the author gives us an unsparing, brilliantly misanthropic portrait of who each actually is. -Doesn't sound thrilling, but this novel is funny, hard to put down, and ultimately profoundly sad.
It was made into a PBS Masterpiece Theatre series a decade or so ago, with Nigel Havers as the eponymous Charmer.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before "The Talented Mr. Ripley" there was... 21 Oct. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Ernest Ralph Gorse - you can call him "Rafe" or "Ralph", is the best way to discover how easy it is sympathize with the criminal kind. Hamilton is wonderful at sending up those-who-should-be-sent-up. Originally titled 'Mr. Stimpson and Mr. Gorse", this is part of 'The Gorse Trilogy" chronicalling the rise, rise and fall of E.R.G. Available in England only as a trilogy. Please, please insist upon re-publication of it in this country
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Charmer Charmed 22 July 2008
By Andrew - Published on
Format: Paperback
I greatly enjoyed this book, and think and feel that I can not really elaborate on this book much more in relation to the other critiques. I will say that I was surprised by the ending and found the ending to be profound on a philosophical level. In otherwords, Gorse became a victim of his own misguided desire. I will say no more than that, so that I do not give away the end--Give this book a try!
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