Friday, 9 September 2011

The Travelling Hornplayer

by Barbara Trapido
I am a sitting duck here, being a homebound worker, and they see no reason at all why I should not take control of the ‘Telephone Cascade’ until I tell them I consider Neighbourhood Watch to be a bourgeois vigilante organization; a smuggies’ club for people with too much stuff.
‘You were shouting at him,’ Katherine says. ‘You looked as though you were going to hit him.’
She says she had to ‘drag’ me away and that when the twerp had thrust his right hand at me on parting and had said, ‘No hard feelings, old man. Will you shake me by the hand?’ I had behaved really badly.
‘Well, I shook him by the hand, didn’t I?’ I say.
‘Plus,’ Katherine says, spitting the words, ‘plus, you said, “Sure I’ll shake you by the hand. I’ve shaken hands with all sorts of arseholes in my time.” ’
I confess I am rather pleased with this reminder.

The Travelling Hornplayer continues the Goldman family saga started in Brother of the More Famous Jack and is as brilliantly written. But. But. Too many buts.

The oft-mentioned “Shakespearean” qualities of Trapido’s novels are abound here: the heroes bump into each other a tad more often than is necessary and/or believable. Of course, all of them are congregating for the grand finale at the snooty college feast in Oxford. The whole Schubert connection (including the German chapter subtitles) is annoyingly artificial. Worse still, the likeable characters from the first book got much less likeable here.

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