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VINE VOICEon 8 December 2011
I had heard lots of good things about the Diary of a Nobody, but was not really sure I would enjoy this type of work so put off reading it. However, finally I got round to it and found a pleasant, amusing read which, whilst it didn't become one of my all time favourites, I am nevertheless glad I read. This edition contains not only the diary itself, but lots of the original illustrations created by Weedon Grossmith, which are delightful and really help to bring the characters and story to life, as well as giving you an idea of how literature was often presented in the 19th century.

Charles Pooter is a clerical worker who has worked at the same job in the same company for years. He has been overlooked for promotion throughout that time. He decides to keep a diary of his middle-class, run of the mill life. In that diary we meet his long-suffering wife Carrie, his son Willie who renames himself Lupin as he feels his real name is too common, some of his less than respectful colleagues and a number of his friends - most notably Gowing and Cummins.

He makes lots puns/jokes which he thinks are hysterical but are actually awful, and his complete obliviousness to this is actually very amusing. He has social aspirations which he can never quite realise. He is bothered by tradesmen who don't seem to take his social status seriously, and ensuing conflicts are very funny.

The diary is really an early example of the type of observational humour which many of our stand-up comics use today. The diary remains remarkably modern/funny even now, more than 100 years after it was first released. Many of the problems Pooter encounters are so familiar even now. He can't understand his son's use of language or lack of work ethic/social aspirations, his friends eat his food and drink his booze without returning the favour, the plumbing doesn't work and neither does the plumber seem to, he keeps banging his foot on the piece of household junk he persistently means to move but never gets round to, the neighbours throw rubbish into his garden and their kids are rude. He seems to have not an ounce of luck, and he is insulted/embarrassed or unintentionally offends those around him at every turn. And yet he is very likeable as throughout all this he strives to retain his dignity.

Whilst this is no great philosophic commentary on humanity, it does exactly what it sets out to. It gives you an amusing, entertaining glimpse into the ordinary life of an ordinary man. If nothing else, it will give you a good, light, non-challenging read whilst reassuring you that you are not the only one who seems to find normal life so frustrating! Well worth a read.
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The Grossmith brothers originally wrote a number of sketches for Punch, but eventually adding to these and putting them altogether this book was formed, and has never been out of print. On first publication it was hardly a bestseller, but as time has moved on and more people began to realise the quality of the humour here, so this grew in popularity. Today we also recognise this as the pre-cursor of our TV sit-coms.

Written by Charles Pooter we see he is a clerk, married, and in the course of this tale their grown-up son comes to live with them. This thus puts the family in the lower middle class echelon, but as with so many such persons they do aspire to a higher social status. With a servant, and another part-time help so the family live in Holloway in a new villa.

Mr Pooter certainly takes himself too seriously, thus giving us the expression pooterism, but he is a loyal and loving husband and we can see that he works hard. In some ways this shows not only class structure but also the changes that were starting to be felt throughout the country as we headed towards the Edwardian age, so although we still have the likes of Spiritualism and people regularly attending church on a Sunday, we also see through one character, who has his mishaps mentioned in the Bicycle News, the popularity of cycling at the time. We also read of our narrator’s attempts at DIY, and other newer thoughts and innovations emerging.

Not only a social comedy but also having some elements of slapstick this is always a pleasure to read and has been enjoyed by many over the years. I think any family can relate in parts to this tale, and we do wonder if the son will do better than the father, both financially and career wise, after all it is always encouraging when children grow up, settle down and make something of themselves.
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on 16 June 2017
Old book yet so interesting to read
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on 4 June 2017
Bought on behalf of my friend they were very pleased
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on 6 September 2017
Sooooo funny.......and there was me thinking they didn't have a sense of humour in those days!
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on 31 August 2017
Excellent read and Very funny
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on 23 June 2004
This heart-warming classic is a strong contender for the funniest book ever written. Read it immediately, then buy a second copy as a peace offering for your worst enemy - if it doesn't wipe the snarl off their face, they're a lost cause....
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 17 February 2004
This book is a little subtle - if you can't read in between the lines then you won't find it funny. If you can then the subtle humour can't help but amuse you. Pooter is lovable, ridiculous, pompous and trivial - a fully rounded character who is quite oblivious to how most of the world perceives him.
A classic.
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on 30 November 2016
I found this mildly amusing but not as hilarious as other reviewers. The social history is interesting though. Pooter shoots off letters with the same frequency as I send emails. Disturbingly, his letters seem to be received on the same day. My emails arrive when my service provider manages to provideca a service. Tradesmen call in person at his home apparently on a daily basis or arrive almost immediately when requested. I've a fence that's been waiting for repair for six weeks and the chimney sweep can come in three. His travel within London seems to be easy enough, perhaps he didn't need to use the Northern Line or travel from Embankment to Ealing in the rush hour.What exactly is a meat tea?
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on 9 February 2017
I bought this to replace a lost copy. It is the tale of a self-important 19th century gentleman called Henry Pooter, his long-suffering wife and wayward adult son, plus assorted friends, colleagues and tradesmen etc. The humour, which is a gentle kind, comes from the lack of self-awareness of the main character and is always at his expense.
Very entertaining and amusing. I would definitely recommend it.
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