The Diary of Nobody (1892) created a cultural icon, an English archetype. Anxious, accident-prone, occasionally waspish, Charles Pooter has come to epitomize English suburban life. His diary chronicles encounters with difficult tradesmen, the delights of home improvements, small parties, minor embarrassments, and problems with his troublesome son. The suburban world he inhabits is hilariously and painfully familiar in its small-mindedness and its essential decency.
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Martin Jarvis simply owns this comic novel about hapless London city clerk Charles Pooter, an endearing stuffed shirt whose life is a series of misunderstandings. Written in 1892 by two actor brothers, one of whom starred in Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas, this fictitious diary gives voice to the grandiose hopes, simple pleasures, near misses, and outright disasters that comprise most peoples' lives. Jarvis's Pooter speaks with orotund vowels and a bemused tone. As this is a diary, Pooter necessarily tells the story, but Jarvis gives such life to Pooter's comments about his companions that we imagine their voices clearly. The diary is interspersed with snippets of period classical music, which add to the all-around pleasure.
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Still chuckling after many readings and listenings
An utter delight
- Ed Newsome