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Christmas at Candleshoe by Michael Innes
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Christmas at Candleshoe (1953)

by Michael Innes

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129393,299 (3.33)1 / 14

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Perfectly silly story with a few amusing characters and some good lines, all very vocabulous and grammatical, but lacking any substance whatsoever.

There's nothing seasonal about it; Christmas is the name of a sculptor.

Just about anything that could constitute plot has been so thoroughly omitted that it seems almost deliberate and systematic. What remains of conflict and suspense and mystery has been either concluded offstage or left unresolved. It's almost as if Innes had written a longer and more complex novel, snipped out the excessive bits--the ruffles and embellishments and long-winded quirky dialogues--and then published those under this title, leaving the core of the novel on the cutting-room floor.

The only reason I give it any stars at all is that the writing at the sentence level is expert, within the style and character of its time and place, and there is some charm in the humor. I find lines like this irresistible:

"Lord Scattergood's florid complexion had deepened to a colour which might have attracted Titian when looking for a nice curtain to hang behind a courtesan."

But as for story, there basically isn't any. What we have in the way of bad guys never even come before our view but remain conjectural. The deus ex machina ending is so ludicrously contrived that it's hardly worthy of the name.

I'm going to recycle this one directly, not even passing by way of the library donation box. ( )
  Meredy | Nov 26, 2013 |
There is a long-time coolness between the families of Candleshoe and Benison. One household can claim to be of ancient lineage but is poor, the other a wealthy upstart. What will it take to bring about a truce? Some Americans, some paintings, some thieves and some children just might do it. I had very severe doubts about this story, not being thrilled with present tense narrative. It seemed strange to me. As I read on (and the narrator of this book, Matt Addis, does a marvelous job), the characters grew on me and the story became compelling. I soon realized that it was filled with delightful humor. This book plays out like a comedy of Shakespeare or a Trollop novel. I will be actively looking for another book by Michael Innes. ( )
1 vote MrsLee | May 17, 2013 |
Like most books by Michael Innes (J. I. M. Stewart), Candleshoe displays culture and erudition and the style is a pleasure to read. There is information about landscaping, historic architecture, art and poetry, and concern with the niceties of English etiquette — particularly important since some of the characters are very old, grew up under Victoria and haven't changed.

In a way, the plot, which is wildly improbable, doesn't matter much. It takes a long time to get going, but the action builds up towards the end of the book. It involves family histories and ancient disputes, forgery and attempted robbery. There is some property damage, but no-one is seriously hurt and only the evil doers are hurt at all.

When I read this 30 years ago, I was disappointed. Coming back to it, I enjoyed it more than I expected, but for my taste the Honeybath and most of the Appleby books are better.
1 vote jimroberts | Oct 14, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Innesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Addis, MattNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When an American multi-millionaire is keen to buy an Elizabethan manor, she comes up against fierce opposition from a young boy, Jay, and his band of bowmen, who are prepared to defend the manor and its nonagerian owner against all comers. It seems likely that that behind a monumental, seventeenth-century carving, by the hand of Gerard Christmas, lies a hoard of treasure.… (more)

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