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Life, Liberty & Sausages
on 15 October 2013
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages begins with a pig's eye view of the universe. An old saddleback sow is musing on the meaning of life, the metaphysical nature of reality and the exact location of her piglets. In the course of her life she has watched as seven broods of her little ones have been taken across the farmyard and corralled into a metal trailer, never to be seen again. This is clearly very odd. Seizing an opportunity to bust out of the pen [do you see what I did there?] this very special piggy sets of on a journey far more fantastical than even she had anticipated.
Meanwhile, the decidedly non-pork-based solicitor Polly Mayer is also pondering on the peculiar nature of her own personal reality. She has recently started working in the conveyancing department of Blue Remembered Hills Developments PLC and is a reluctant conscript to the company darts team. Even stranger, someone has been drinking her coffee, making slapdash attempts at doing her work and impersonating her nice phone voice. Fearing that she might be going mad, Polly could at least take comfort in the fact that it was only her working life that seemed to have followed a diversion into the Twilight Zone. Until, that is, she goes to collect a dress from the dry-cleaners and discovers that it isn't there anymore. The dry-cleaners that is, although by extension also the dress.
And then things start to get strange.
Like the majority of Tom Holt's books, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages is a great mix of the fantastical and the funny, although the story is perhaps a bit slower to get started than usual. Claims that Holt "twists the reader's mind like a wet dishrag" are certainly apt here as he leads us on an intergalactic expedition through a space-time continuum that has taken a severe turn for the weird.
While Polly is a great heroine, her brother Don's Sherlockian investigations into the existence and potential uses of magic [and, specifically, of a magical pencil sharpener], as well as the mysteriously absent past of her boss Mr Huos, are the real stand-out human elements of the story. On the non-human front, the highly intelligent and analytically-minded pigs, picky though they may be, and the practical applications of Sow's Constant are a delight. I'm also rather fond of the lawyer chickens.
Proving that very little can top tales of trans-dimensional pigs and parallel words, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages is another great satirical offering from Tom Holt that entertains thoroughly while effortlessly moving between the silly and the smart.