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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 16 January 2004
This is a brilliant book from a writer I enjoy but find rather hit and miss. Like others have mentioned, this is Tom Holt very much 'on form', with a well-written story full of wonderful wit and likeable characters. Paul Carpenter is the typical Holt pathetic main character, who starts a very strange office job with a sour-faced girl, who he happens to falls for and refrains from quitting his insane job to stay with. Together they tackle the insanely boring tasks they're set and eventually become friends as they try to discover the true meaning behind the company. Their relationship is enjoyable to watch as it unfolds, beginning, as always, with what seems to be mutual contempt. The characters are well designed and the tension between them creates a lot of touching 'moments', all of which are amusingly noted by Paul himself. I found the story came together very well, with lots of very strange things happening near the beginning all being explained at the end. More than one of the revelations that occurred made me smile and say out loud 'Of course!', which I'd say was the mark of a good book. Topped with some insane characters (just wait 'til Mr Tanner's mum appears) and Holt's token observational wit, this is a madcap read that I highly enjoyed. Good stuff.
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on 17 January 2005
Imagine yourself beeing twenty-something, a total nerd with absolutely no future involving women in any way. welcome to Pauls world. suddenly he finds himself stuck with a job he didn't really want in the first place, spending all day with a woman that he doesn't like (but nevertheless falls in love with, by old habit) doing utterly meaningless things. And then strange things start to happen.
Mr Holt is a captivating writer. he steals your time so effortlessly you don't even notice it until it's 4 o'clock in the morning and you know your alarmclock is going off at 6...
while reading this book my husband constantly had to ask me what's so funny, cause i kept laughing load, and calling mr Holt a sick person. his writing combined with my own vivid fantasy and vizualisation made reading 'the portable door' an experience. I'm looking forward to reading 'in your dreams' once i get hold of a copy...
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on 10 April 2003
Holt is back on form! After a couple of books which are good by normal standards, but not up to the author in full flight, we get a story which feels planned. It opens a bit like a re-hash of his previous book (Little People) and reads as if you could never have sympathy with the hero, but persevere, because it turns round into a wonderful comic tale.
The story twists and turns as you would expect from Mr. Holt and some of the throw-aways are beautiful. Try and count the references to other fantasy/comic fantasy books.
Overall a great read but only gets 4 stars because he has written better - see "Who's Afraid of Beowulf" and "Valhalla" or my own favourite "Flying Dutch"
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on 13 January 2016
I <3 this book 💜 it so much
I liked it from beginning
paul is a man with no life
he has no girlfriend
not much money
and omg somthings cooking in this book
and in real life (mmm smells so good)
at first its a job interview not to much but enough
to keep you wanting to read !!!!!
then strange things happen I haven't finshed yet .
five star
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on 31 May 2003
"The Portable Door" is Holt's twenty-first comic fantasy, and is an insanely liberated romp with, allegedly, approximately 75% autobiographical material. It's the simple story of a crestfallen yet accessible loser named Paul Carpenter who perhaps thinks overly too much, and his exploits to secure the heart of a certain girl with the cheerful warmth of a hellfire, named Sophie. Thrown into the mix, as can be expected, is Holt's tangential comedic science fantasy eccentricities, mostly developing the subplot of Paul's newly appointed workplace, replete with goblin minions and training in the arcane arts of wizardy, and, er, bauxite mining (don't ask). Holt's always one for crazily groan-worthy puns and analogies, and he turns up this deft skill to 11, but sometimes it seemingly gets less hysterical, and more chucklesome... and this is perhaps why "The Portable Door" is not laugh-out-loud funny. However, what "The Portable Door" *is* is better than "Falling Sideways" and "Nothing But Blue Skies", which is calls for jubilant appraisal, as Holt's vaguely sauntering decline has continued for the last few years... but, hopefully, not any longer. "The Portable Door" is a satirically perceptive, observant novel, and thought it isn't high art, or Adams, Pratchett & Fforde, it nevertheless is fun, light, whimisical, and perhaps better than the last four novels he's produced. Holt has submitted the manuscript of a tentatively referred-to 'sequel' to "The Portable Door" to his publishers, and albeit the ending of *this* novel does not entirely justify its enjoyment or reading, I will continue to enthusiastically greet a new Holt volume (especially if Danny Bennett or Kurt Lundqvist continue to return to his bemusing pseudo-Britain). Read it: you probably won't love it, but it's enjoyable all the same.
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on 10 February 2015
I think I would have given this book 4 stars when I first finished reading it, but it has stayed with me and I've enjoyed remembering it since. I had never read anything like it, so I was thinking "what? No. That's ridiculous!" constantly through the early chapters, then I got used to it and started to really like it. It was warm, charming, very funny and I guess it was fantasy in our times - strangely more difficult to accept than hobbits, perhaps because the world hobbits inhabit is not quite ours. I will read another Tom Holt novel based on this one and would recommend this one to anyone with a bit of imagination and a sense of humour.
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on 15 September 2005
The reviews I have read of this book I actually read after I had finished it and I noticed then that Tom Holt has quite a cult following behind him. I am not part of this cult and only picked up this book because of a quirky looking front cover and a mildly intriguing write up on the back cover.
I am so glad I did!
This book centres on Paul Carpenter and Sophie Pettingell, unlikely individuals as they are to get job interviews, that is what both of them manage - at J.W. Wells & Co. After witnessing a procession of far more qualified and more impressive candidates stream past them to interviews neither expects to get offered the one job on offer, doubly annoying for Paul as he is developing a rather large crush on the rather un-enigmatic Sophie...
Curious things begin to happen to Paul, not least discovering that both he and Sophie have managed to procure positions at the prestigious City firm, or the giant lump of stone that lands in his living room with a curiously realistic looking and pointy sword that is sticking out of it... Now they presume J.W. Wells & Co must be prestigious, it has big old doors and a city postcode but neither of them knows what it does. And most unlike a city firm no-one works before 9am, or after 5.30pm. Curious that.
Paul as a character is wetter than a drowned dolphin living off the North East coast of Scotland in November and has all the charisma of one. He is annoyingly self-deprecating, lacks the social skills that even the lowliest village idiot managed to develop by 17 and could no more talk to women as I can to goldfish. Sophie on the other hand is arrogant, more cutting, very unlikable and apparently not all that to look at. Odd then that you really begin to root for them as the story goes on. This odd couple really do grind you down into liking them and wondering why all people aren't like them. Don't worry this ends when you finish the book...
The story itself is well written, clever and very funny at times. Indeed there was a curious moment when a fellow commuted caught me laughing to myself, I hope she realises that it was due to the book and not me inadvertently laughing at her but it did lead to a lot of straining to see what the book cover was I was reading. The story itself is a little "out-there" but this fits in really well to the real world and there are enough cringe-worthy moments to remind any of us out there what a first day / week in a new company can be like.
I have heard from other reviews that the 2nd and 3rd books get a little dark from here but I can't comment as I haven't read them. That said if this is anything to go by I suspect there will be a few cheeky laughs to light the way.
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on 24 May 2005
The book is standard fare for those know Tom Holt's style of writing. If you're expecting an action-packed rollercoaster of thrilling sequences and gasp-inducing fantasy writing, you won't find it here. It's all about the gags, the awkward conversations and exchanges, and just a smattering of plot twists. Things move along at an excruciating pace, but the characters are so strange and funny, with their own distinct traits and ways of looking at the peculiar business of the company that it's easy - and rewarding - just to amble through the laughs and leave the plot to meander along its way, without getting frustrated.
The central character, Paul, is painted as one of Tom Holt's typical anti-heroes; plain, witless and unlucky, but with just enough charm and good instincts to not make the reader feel totally disconnected from him. After a bizarre job interview, Paul lands himself a position at J. W. Wells and Co., and what appears at first to be a mundane, repetitive office job soon turns out to be a cover for something entirely more unusual and clandestine. Add to that his inexplicable, but somehow unshakeable, attraction to an equally quirky new employee and Paul's problems suddenly spiral out of control.
Holt executes his usual array of clever set pieces and puns with clinical precision, and most of the small oddities that occur during the story have a meaning or explanation offered at some point, whilst also leaving room for an intriguing sequel. The 'Portable Door' of the title is perhaps not used as dramatically as it might have been, and is more of a plot device than something upon which the whole book hinges (if you'll forgive the awful door-pun).
This book should give you a good chortle, even though it's not as inspiring a fantasy tale as it could have been. Nevertheless it's good comic entertainment and definitely worth a read.
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on 1 March 2014
Read it ages ago, bought it again on kindle. Forgot how much I enjoyed reading it. Tom Holt always puts me in mind of a very terrestrial Douglas Adams. Really novel plots, gently surreal. Really. good at creating characters that endure: he has a gift for characterising people in a few words and reinforcing this with a sentence here and there each time they appear.
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on 20 February 2013
Loved this book the main character being very recognisable. Fear and self loathing are traits that few would admit to but once admitted causality can throw in the funnies.

I'm still reading Holt and have read about six of his books interspersed with other authors and won't stop until I have read the lot. Entertainment? Yes.
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