The Legacy of Hartlepool Hall Paperback – 19 Jul 2012
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A black comedy of manners and a poignant social commentary. (THE GOOD BOOK GUIDE)
Hartlepool Hall has been in Ed's family for generations - but is that about to change, and who is the mysterious Lady Alice?See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Ed Hartlepool has spent years in France as a non dom, not opening letters or emails from home and failing to see that his stately pile Hartlepool Hall is close to financial ruin. He faces the news when he returns, and struggles to comprehend how he can turn the situation round when he has never worked in his life. He also returns to find a mysterious elderly lady - Lady Alice - staying at the hall. No-one seems to know who she is. Meanwhile an old friend of Ed's, Annabel, is struggling with the demands of her unpleasant father, and wanting to escape by marrying either "new money" Geoff or old money Ed.
As with all Torday novels, there are allegories being drawn and themes presented which trouble the mind for days afterwards. In the case of Hartlepool Hall, should we just raze buildings like this to the ground? Follies which were created because of the wealth and arrogance of a family a few hundred years ago, and now all but meaningless, needing repairs and not substantial enough to be preserved as a historical archive.
I was also troubled by the motives of Annabel. Unlike Lady Alice, who turns out to have a modest background, Annabel has also spent a wasted life dreaming of her father's inheritance. Annabel discovers that it is dangerous to get all that you wish for. And in sharp focus to Annabel and Ed, we hear the sad story of one of the estate tenants, a man who eschews emotion and has an antidote to his life of misery which is hard work.
I found the novel so engrossing I had to read it in two sessions.
I would highly recommend the book. It's an easy story to get into and once you're in there, you will be hooked. I am definitely looking out for another book by Paul Torday which I think is a sure sign of how much I loved it.
Meanwhile, back in England an old friend of Ed’s, Annabel lives with her father, a cantankerous curmudgeon who delights in making her life a misery. She dreams of escape, but her father drives away any potential suitors – apart from Geoff, a ‘developer’ who has taken an interest in her lately. Perhaps he is her ticket to freedom?
This story, although set in current day, seemed a little out of its proper context to me; it seemed more like a story that would have been more appropriate to take place in say the 1950s. The people just didn’t gel for me as current day people somehow. The life they led was out of whack with today’s world in many ways. And while the story itself has a certain pathos, a lot of the sympathy I may have felt for both Ed and Annabel in their own stories was removed from me by the fact that Ed seemed to be a bit of a wet fish, and Annabel a soppy drip. Sounds harsh, but I really just wanted to give them both a good shake and tell them to pull themselves together.
A pleasant enough read, but one that didn’t instil me with strong feelings of empathy, or of enjoying any message the narrative sought to spread.
When he returns to England, Hartlepool Hall seems much as it always has. Horace, the elderly butler, is still in place, as is the housekeeper. There are fresh flowers provided in the near empty house and a full larder, in case of guests. In fact, Ed does have a guest - an elderly visitor named Lady Alice, who Ed does not know has installed herself in his absence. At first, Ed thinks his first concern is to rid himself of this unwanted visitor, but then finds he has more pressing problems; namely that he can no longer afford to live in his family home. Old friend Annabel Gazebee, still living with her elderly father, remembers Hartlepool Hall as the place she loved best when she was young, but her brash new boyfriend, Geoff, sees it as a property development.
All Ed wants is to live the life of his forefathers. Instead he finds himself under pressure from all sides to stop himself from becoming bankrupt and homeless. This is a very moving novel as Ed discovers who he really is and what his family and the family home actually mean to him. There is also a very tragic element to this novel, as well as some laugh out loud moments which are horrible and yet hilarious. All in all, a wonderful book from the fantastic Mr Torday.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
“His father, Simon Aylmer Francis Simmonds, the fourth Marquess of Hartlepool … had given Ed only two pieces of advice. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Cloggie Downunder
I liked this book, like all of Torday's works. Not as good as Salmon Fishing, but lovely readable text which keeps you interested all the way through.Published 13 months ago by JGB
A thoroughly good read that puts his many characters into context.Published 16 months ago by David Sanderson