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The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathon Fairfax Paperback – 1 Jun 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 401 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Albatross; 1st edition (1 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956965601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956965608
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (401 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

"You can’t help being tickled" - The Guardian

"Not many books make me laugh out loud, but The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathon Fairfax is one of them… A comic gem" - Stylist magazine

"Shevlin was rightly picked up by the literary agency that represents the likes of David Nicholls" - Metro magazine

Amazon UK bestseller: #1 Political Humour, Top 10 Humorous Fiction, Top 20 Humour

When Jonathon Fairfax accidentally helps a murderer bump off Sarah Morecambe, the secretary of a senior politician, he sets off a chain of events that astonishes him. Jonathon is wrong-footed by even the most everyday things, so he’s particularly shocked to find himself caught up in a conspiracy that goes right to the heart of government.

Teaming up with a suave private investigator, a glamorous grannie and the probable love of his life, Jonathon must confront his greatest fears - including talking to girls and balaclava-clad killers - and answer some very difficult questions. Who murdered Sarah Morecambe? What is the strange secret that unites the entire British government? And what exactly does it feel like to kiss a real-life woman?

With its naïve, reluctant hero and wry look at life, The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathon Fairfax has been compared to books by Douglas Adams, Carl Hiaasen and PG Wodehouse.

Some comparisons...

“When Christopher Shevlin sat down to write this book, the spirit of Douglas Adams sidled up next to him and said, ‘Here, let me help you.’ This book is probably – definitely – the funniest thing I have read since The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.” Geek Boy, Amazon.com

“It reminded me of a very English Carl Hiaasen – filled with throwaway detail, joyously funny dialogue and slightly absurd characters.” Francesca Brown, Stylist magazine

“In the same vein as ‘The 100 year old man that climbed out of a window’, it's a non-stop page turner. Great stuff!!!” Andy, Amazon UK

“Shevlin has been compared to Wodehouse, and I'm sure he'll garner more compliments as the book is read. I would give it 11 if I could.” posh sith, Amazon UK

“If you like tight writing, a great pace, smart references and laughing, this book will be on your top five list! Like reading an Arrested Development script.” Bridget Aureli, Amazon.com

“I sincerely hope there will be another work from this author in the near future, to my way of thinking he is up there with Stella Gibbons and Saki.” lizzieay, Amazon UK

“Shevlin's writing style, his wonderful way with eccentric characters, and his knack for combining kindness, silliness, and more than a few touching surprises, all fill a spot left by Adams.” Avery Elizabeth Hurt

Some more reactions...

“I was laughing so much whilst reading it that my son downloaded it at the same time so we could laugh together.” CJB, Amazon UK

“New year's celebrations became an unwanted distraction as I couldn't tear myself away from Jonathon and gang. You have been warned.” Liz Palmen, Amazon UK

“I can’t wait for more. It made me laugh on the tube. It made me happy.” T Forsdyke, Amazon UK

About the Author

Christopher Shevlin grew up in Doncaster, in Yorkshire, and consoled himself for it by reading a lot. His favourite authors include Douglas Adams, Henry Howarth Bashford, Geoffrey Willans, Thackeray and PG Wodehouse. After school he worked briefly as a door-to-door vacuum-cleaner salesman in Yorkshire and as a labourer in Tel Aviv. At 23 he moved to London, where he has stayed ever since. He works as a freelance, helping companies to write better - by training, coaching, advising and doing the writing himself. His desk is clogged up with novels that he hasn't finished writing. The first completed book to emerge from the pile is The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathon Fairfax, which he hopes you enjoy. To find out more, visit his website: christophershevlin.com.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have been ambushed by The Perpetual Astonishment. It was lying around our house waiting for my husband to read it, and I was in that unnerving state of being 'between books' so I picked it up, loved the cover, started reading and have since resented any interruptions like sleep or work or children complaining of being hungry. In fact I'm enjoying it so much I'm leaving work an hour early just so that I can read it in bed.

It is very funny, well written, charming, intelligent and although it could, if it wanted to, swagger about being blatantly cool it has chosen to do it in a modest unassuming way (which, of course, is way cooler).

If you need cheering up or just need entertaining then I recommend it 100%. And no, I don't know the author.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As so often happens, I chose this book by mistake - but waddamistakatamaka. It's well written, includes some innovative approaches (it opens with the hum drum thoughts of a newly murdered person!!) and is somehow believable. Get it, read it, be sorry when it's finished.
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Christopher Shevlin can really write. This novel is packed with elegant, funny turns of phrase, slantwise ways of looking at the world, which actually make sense and are genuinely amusing, plus a set of charming and bizarre characters and a really entertaining and satisfying plot. Definitely worth a read.

This is Shevlin's first published novel (I think - I haven't seen any more - maybe there are hundreds!). It's an absolute joy to see a new, self-assured, funny,light-hearted comedy voice emerge through this book.

The author pretty much invites us to compare the book with Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently books. That's a brave thing to do, considering Douglas Adams is one of our great comedy stylists. Gulp. But this actually stacks up creditably against Adams' work - and is not dissimilar. It's witty, erudite, and long on well-described set pieces where things happen... quite slowly... but are described in very interesting ways. The down sides are that the plot sometimes plays second fiddle to the author's love of wordsmithing; and the narrative voice is so distinctive that it can overwhelm the different characters.

But Shevlin doesn't need to lose any sleep because these are criticisms which could fairly also be levelled at Douglas Adams too - so he's in august company. When it comes to the plot of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detetctive Agency, Douglas Adams himself freely admitted he didn't understand what the hell was going on for most of it.

It's worth saying this is not a Douglas Adams pastiche; Shevlin is still emerging from the Douglasian shadows, (as are many writers!) but is very much his own man. It's particularly pleasing the way humorous asides are included but not clunkingly pointed out.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am not going to start some pseudo-literary review. I last did that for Sylvia Plath's Mushrooms poem some 27 years ago, and I have forgotten all those big and clever words to critique literature.

So, what can I say then that sounds intelligent but not contrived? I can start by remarking that The PAJF (for short) represents an echo of Tom Sharpe styled British farce: a common man embroiled in a contrived yet funny plot that goes to the higher echelons of government, and whose involvement is, at best, inadvertent.

It seems almost timeless: there aren't contemporary references that allow you to place when this is set. Initially, I felt it was in the 1980s but it could be this year. And that is one of the many facets that I found attractive. It wasn't trying too hard to be something. It is just having fun. And what is wrong with that? Why does literature need to be complex all the time. Mr Shevlin is telling a witty and engaging story. And for that I award him and his tome a full 5 stars....
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a cracking read! I just spent my holiday with my nose in, The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathon Fairfax. It was funny with compelling characters and a plot that astonishingly turned into a page turner. The only down side was the annoyed looks I received from people in nearby beach chairs as I guffawed aloud. Five stars.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this one, great characters, funny and quirky. Would recommend this book to everybody. Can't see how anyone would not find something to like and laugh at.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It seemed that every Amazon 'recommended for you' had the title of this book in it somewhere. After a good length of time, I finally succumbed and bought it onto my Kindle. After even more time spent trying to ignore it, I started to read it, stuck with it, though slightly puzzled and, finally, stayed in bed this morning to finish it. It is a strangely enjoyable book, well written and full of big personalities. I can only liken it to watching both series of TV's the 'Blandings', one after the other, but with no pictures. It involves a socially inept young man who through no skills of his own (except naivity) gets 'adopted' by two others. These two, in turn, involve him with a ghost, a murderer, a private eye and the Government of the United Kingdom. Other reviewers write of laughing out loud and guffawing - it didn't cause such outpourings of mirth from me, but has left me with a half-smile on my face and a feeling of gentle enjoyment. Christopher Shelvin asks that I express this enjoyment and interest in the possible appearance of his next book and I rather think I will. I would recommend you read it and suggest that by doing so, you may be in on the beginning of a 'cult'.
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