The innocuous title belies the sordid little tale that follows. It is sharp, incisive, perfectly paced - and utterly compelling. Mr Hewson is a master storyteller who sketches out an intriguing outline, then steps back confidently and leaves your own imagination to find the colours. At 94p this is my best-buy on Amazon this year, though I confess I'll never feel quite the same way about dormice and parrots again...
I bought this short story on its title alone and I almost wish I hadn't. Mary and her employer, Mr Carstairs are staying in Rome. They are taking tea after viewing paintings of Judith beheading the tyrannical Holofernes. Unfortunately Mary has misheard the tiles and thinks it is Judith and the Holy Ferns partly because one of the paintings contains a lot of ferns.
It is soon clear that the relationship between Mary and her employer is not all it might be and the scenario back at her employer's hotel - because he is feeling `frisky' - leaves rather too little to the imagination of the reader.
The title is marvellous and the plot is intriguing and the conclusion satisfying but the middle chapter is just squalid and uncomfortable to read.
This is probably the worst and shortest book I've ever read. I have read a lot of David Hewson, whom I find eminently readable, but not this time. Also, I wouldn't have bought this for a start if i'd known it was so short.
This was a good story but I was very disappointed at how short it was. I read it in less than 20 minutes - when I purchased it, I believed that it was a novel. Maybe I should have realised as it was a quarter of the price of the other novels but I do feel conned nevertheless.