The Delightful Diamond of a Book that is 'Welcome to Blekeleigh Court'
A year ago, Clarendon House published what I consider to be one of its best books (and to my astonishment, I find that I have published over sixty books in the last three years). I refer to Welcome to Blekeleigh Court, by Samantha Hamilton.
This gem of a volume arrived with me in late 2019, and I can safely say that each and every page was a joy to read. I couldn’t wait to get it out into the world, and managed to do so forthwith.
It’s hard to sustain supremely high quality of prose over almost 300 pages of storytelling. It’s even harder to do it when you’re writing comedy. But somehow Samantha Hamilton manages it: there isn’t a dull page amongst these.
Be warned though: to truly appreciate her work, you’d need to be reasonably literate. Not that you won’t understand what’s happening as her carefully crafted characters cavort across the countryside, but you will miss the jewel-like sparkle of her wit if you aren’t sensibly acquainted with the delights of English prose. How can I prove this to you? I know — let’s take any page at random — truly at random, no pre-selection having occurred, and give you some examples.
First up, here’s a paragraph from the chapter ‘Reggie Amongst the Philistines’:
It wasn’t entirely my fault, I should point out. You see, I had just met this perfectly ripping girl. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the courtship ritual in the present day has become rather a dear proposition. There are lunches and dinners and teas and theatres and so on, in addition to the occasional tribute of flowers, fruit, sweets and what not. Your shining knight in days of old had it easy in comparison: he just biffed off and slew a dragon or two, rattled off a few sonnets, and claimed the inamorata on his own terms. I could manage the poetry right enough, having been celebrated for my comic verses all through my ’varsity career; and dragons could hardly be more awe-inspiring than the headmaster of my old school; but wooing a girl today requires a certain amount of oof. So I temporarily shelved my literary efforts, brushed off my most presentable suit, and sought a more constant source of remuneration as a member of London’s teeming workforce.
Or these, from ‘Blekeleigh Court Comes to London’:
Unfortunately, the brolly wobbled in my aunt’s grasp, and, as she struggled to retain her grip, happened to catch the duchess square in the small of the back, sending that lady off balance. She performed a sort of a graceful arabesque as I reached out to steady her, and she, in turn, grabbed for my arm; but we just missed contact, like ships passing in the night, and the duchess sat down hard with a sort of squelchy noise like hundreds of eggs being squashed.
I say that’s what the noise was like, because that is indeed what it was, and having never heard anything quite like it before or since, I have nothing else to compare it to. The fur-clad suburban aristocrat had landed in one of the tip-tilted display baskets of eggs, and promptly began to make a sound like a steam engine in hysterics. Under the circs, the best I could do was to raise my hat with a muttered, ‘Pardon!’ and whisk Aunt Azalea away from the scene, hoping against hope that the disaster would serve to slow the blue-bottle’s progress.
Or this, from ‘Drama Comes to Blekeleigh Court’:
She was what might be called statuesque, or even stately: tall and well-nourished, built in the dignified mould so popular with Victorians, and which I thought had been largely retired when the Flapper model was issued. She had the dark, flashing eyes of a tragedy queen, and an expression of repressed tempestuousness that looked like it was only moments from blossoming into a full-blown sneer. Her profile was chiseled in the fashion made popular by classical Greek statues; only those marble goddesses looked a good bit warmer and jollier than our current guest. Imagine Cleopatra on a bad day, and you’ll have the general picture.
I don’t know if you’ve got the idea yet — but if this sounds like your cup of tea, then you have a treat in store. These are by no means the highlights of the book, simply rapidly chosen paragraphs from within it — there is so much cleverness, so much comic capering, so many wonderfully woven words to be enjoyed in this book, containing not a single shadow of gloom or misery (though the last chapter will catch you off-guard emotionally if you’re not careful — I wasn’t, and had to stay up late to find out how things turned out) that you could safely acquire this book to promote Christmas cheer in any household in the country and not be disappointed.
You see where I’m going with this? You can purchase a paperback or connect with a Kindle by going here. I strongly advise you to do so, as your doctor of delightful and devourable dechiperables — or recommender of books, which is easier to say.
‘You won’t regret it,’ as they say. And in this case, they’d be right.