Friday, 13 November 2009

Dishonourable Member - Jack Trevor Story

This is a lightweight and entertaining farce of the type that Story does so well. Set in and around Cambridge (an area he knew well) it involves the goings on at a small hotel. As with all farce, there is plenty of mistaken identity, grabbing the wrong end of the stick (a hockey stick, in this case), chasing around, a smattering of sex, and a (largely) happy ending.

Whilst it will probably never win any prizes, it is a cheery book that is well constructed and well written. Story has an obvious affection for his characters; turns in some wonderful descriptions; and keeps the whole thing going at a great pace. It would make good television

One aspect of the work that stands out is Story’s ability to make his central character sympathetic. This is a womanising MP who is in the job for the expenses (the book was written in 1969, so a prize for prescience would be in order) and who cannot stand his wife. So he says. For this is written in the first person and it becomes apparent from his actions that we have a less than reliable narrator. A character you should loathe is likeable (without the point being pushed) and whilst he wanders the borders of caricature, never quite strays too far from realism.

If you want a light read that is well written and which displays a fine sense of humour without ever feeling the need to be spiteful (all too common these days), this is a book for you.