Top positive review
The Life of a Chair - Pure Joy
on 18 March 2017
Lovejoy is on the hunt for a missing antiques dealer and has to piece the puzzle together to find him on the Essex marshes.
This was one of my favouirte Lovejoy novels to read, as it had an interesting plot and I've just worked it out, - Lovejoy is an 'Absolute Beginner', only he's now (Sort of) grown up! The first person narrative writing of the series and the quips and throw away asides are all pure Colin MacInnes. The rapidly changing characters are similar to MacInnes and his work, many flit in and then are not heard of again in the book, they often perform a specific function and are forgotten. Also Lovejoy would be about the correct age for having been young during the fifties and now mid-life in the eighties.
Lovejoy novels always give you the antiques and the rural countryside of East Anglia, and that's why I like them, as that's where I'm from. Please just go and read page 70 and Lovejoy's description of a Chippendale period chair and the character's love for antiques becomes so clear.
The antiques dealer sets out the life of the unknown creator of the chair about how he had never owned anything and had never worn a hat, drunk clean water or touched soap and Lovejoy says:
'Whoever he was, he loved his work even in hell. His chair's telling you all this. And I'm proud of him... Touch it and you touch him, back across the centuries. See? Antiques are how we hit back at Time.' (p.70)
Pathos and humility from Lovejoy, - who'd have thought it. I enjoyed the characterisation of Lovejoy, as he was less of a wimp and that's a contrast to some of the more recent books in the series. I'd certainly recommend starting with the earlier books first, before heading towards the most recent publications, certainly 'Faces in the Pool' (2008) is terrible, confused and lacking plot.
And for those worried about seeing Ian McShane and hearing his dulcet tones, that's never a problem as the characterisation of Lovejoy in the books is quite different to the TV series. He's much more of an antiques geek and very much more of an anti-hero, and less brave. One area I agree with Ian McShane on is use of the character's 'divvy' powers, it is a bit like the sonic screwdriver in 'Doctor Who' something of a get-out-of-jail free card and the fewer times it is used, so much the better in my opinion. In 'Pearlhanger' it is kept to a minimum and the plot does drag a little on the antiques shopping spree, but that is to build up Donna Vernon and her controlling tendencies and to add some jeopardy to the narrative.
I believe to make reading fun it is important to locate a series of books that you can become familiar with and enjoy reading for the seer hell of it, and Lovejoy novels are like that for me!