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Mr Toppit by Charles Elton
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Mr Toppit

by Charles Elton

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4203037,359 (3.03)17
  1. 00
    The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Becchanalia)
    Becchanalia: Also about a dark mystery surrounding a writer of children's fiction with an air of menace.
  2. 00
    The Enchanted Places by Christopher Milne (nessreader)
    nessreader: Mr Toppit is a novel clearly based on Milne's dilemma - of being the reluctant child inspiration of a bestseller, (although the series in Mr T sounds a bit more Harry Potter than Pooh.)
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» See also 17 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
2.76
  johnrid11 | Feb 14, 2016 |
Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton is about the fallout of being the inspiration for a famous fictional character. Loosely based on the life of Christopher Milne and his fictional counterpart in the Winnie the Pooh books, this book follows the life and times of Luke Hayman after the death of his author father and the ways in which he can't escape being compared to his father's creation, Luke Hayseed.

The book is told from multiple points of view, namely, Luke, an American who brings the Hayseed books to California (and inadvertently makes them world famous), Luke's troubled sister who wants to know why she was never included in the books. The events of Luke's life and the explosion of his alter ego's rise in fame come out of order, though there is somewhat of a progression forward in time. This mixture of points of view and moments in time make for an unnecessarily confusing narrative.

When I read the book, I was unaware of the author's work with the Milne estate but the similarity to Christopher Milne's life is unmistakable. That said, knowing now about that connection, I find myself less pleased with the added drama (namely Arthur's violent death and the American making posthumous fame possible). These elements don't ring true and in light of the source material, there is already enough there to make a compelling character study while still being fictional. ( )
  pussreboots | Feb 23, 2015 |
I was initially attracted to this book by its tagline, that it is a book about how a book broke a family. The summary on the back tells about a book like those about Narnia, written by an author who is also a father and husband.
That writer is Arthur Hayman, who has written a couple of books about Luke Hayseed (named after his own son Luke), and his adventures in the Darkwood behind their house with the mysterious and elusive Mr. Toppit. Arthur is hit by a car while in London. The first one on the scene to comfort him is Laurie, an overweight American woman looking for direction in her life and has come to London on holiday. She follows him to hospital and alerts his wife. When Arthur dies she joins the family in their house in the country. Arthur is buried by his wife Martha, his daughter Rachel and younger son Luke. The rest of the book follows the four survivors for the next decade, and the influence, both for the good and for the bad, that the Hayseed Chronicles have on their lives. Luke has to live with not being the Luke from the books. Laurie grabs the books to give her life purpose. Martha wrestles control of the books back from the publisher who first published them. And Rachel has to deal with not being in the books at all.
The idea of the story sounded good, and the story is not bad per se. But it doesn't seem to flow right. The start of the book is pretty slow, and then suddenly a lot of events and consequences get lumped together in quick succession. It is a nice read, but I can't help but feel that Elton could have done so much more with his ideas. Three out of five stars. ( )
  divinenanny | May 18, 2014 |
I was intrigued by the blurb on the back cover ('... jangly with secrets'), but the secrets were pretty few and far between. I couldn't warm to any of the characters apart from the main narrator, Luke, and I wanted the book to end for all the wrong reasons. In my opinion there was virtually no character progression there, and instead the reader gets treated to lots of incidental, irrelevant and distracting background for some of the minor players, including a Round Robin letter from Laurie's radio station boss-turned-manager. The author does make the occasional valid, thought-provoking point, and Luke's voice is suitably wry and dead-pan to raise the occasional smile, but those are not enough to save the book. One for the charity shop, I'm afraid. ( )
  passion4reading | Apr 17, 2013 |
On the whole it's bit of a slog and yet there are some parts that grab hold of you and keep hold of you but then... not long afterwards... along comes another slog ( )
  nikon | Aug 19, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Elton’s satire of the publishing world is mostly obvious and his characters familiar types (the spoilt, drug-addict daughter; the obnoxious, overweight American). Scenes such as Arthur’s funeral go on too long while others, such as the violent ending, feel rather underplayed. Charles Elton would clearly like this book to be a cult hit (there is a fictitious website dedicated to the “Hayseed Chronicles”); but such things cannot be manufactured from such thin material.
 
Courtesy of Penguin, Mr Toppit is enjoying its own costly and elaborate publicity campaign...Elton himself is a media veteran - he has been a publisher and a literary agent and is now an executive producer at ITV - and Mr Toppit draws on first-hand experience of the venality of an industry permanently on the make. But in its case, too, as Luke might say, beware the hype.
added by vancouverdeb | editguardian.co.uk (Feb 9, 2009)
 
Mr Toppit is part Royal Tenenbaums-style saga of a dysfunctional family (Luke loathes "his" appearance in the books; Rachel is tormented by her exclusion from them); part coming-of-age tale (Luke loses his virginity to a Californian girl who whispers: "Fill me with your hayseed"); and part satire on the iniquities of celebrity and hype. But it does not quite succeed as any of these things. The tone is too brittle for the devastation wreaked by Hayseed-mania to carry much emotional weight; even troubled Rachel's eventual end, possibly at the hands of a Toppit-obsessive, is oddly unaffecting.
 
As his pitch-perfect pastiche of the genre shows, Elton understands that an eerie undergrowth of horror and longing flourishes in many of the English children's classics. Curious, then, that this immensely fluent and confident debut conjures up the magic of the form only to dispel it. This is a work of disenchantment. It begins in mystery but swiftly turns to the bruised, rueful comedy of family and social manners. Woodland terrors dissolve into the light – indeed, the glaring Californian light – of common day....However sound this insight, its execution as the novel unwinds feels like an anticlimax.
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
FOR LOTTE ELTON AND ABRAHAM ELTON
First words
And out of the Darkwood Mr. Toppit comes, and he comes not for you, or for me, but for all of us.
Quotations
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
from Amazon. ca : Product Description
When the author of The Hayseed Chronicles, Arthur Hayman, is mown down by a concrete truck in Soho, his legacy passes to his widow, Martha, and her children—the fragile Rachel, and Luke, reluctantly immortalized as Luke Hayseed, the central character of his father's books for kids. But others want their share, particularly Laurie, who has a mysterious agenda of her own that changes all their lives. For buried deep in the books lie secrets which threaten to be revealed as the family begins to crumble under the heavy burden of their inheritance.

Spanning several decades, from the heyday of the British film industry after the war to the cutthroat world of show business in Los Angeles, Mr Toppit is a riveting tale of the unexpected effects of sudden fame and fortune. Not since Jonathan Coe's What a Carve Up! has a novel managed to capture a family and a society to such wonderfully funny and painful effect
Haiku summary
Arthur Hayman's death
makes his books famous, but his
family suffers.
(passion4reading)

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

And out of the Darkwood Mr. Toppit comes, and he comes not for you, or for me, but for all of us. When The Hayseed Chronicles, an obscure series of children's books, become world-famous millions of readers debate the significance of that enigmatic last line and the shadowy figure of Mr. Toppit who dominates the books. The author, Arthur Hayman, an unsuccessful screenwriter mown down by a concrete truck in Soho, never reaps the benefits of the books' success. The legacy passes to his widow, Martha, and her children - the fragile Rachel, and Luke, reluctantly immortalised as Luke Hayseed, the central character of his father's books. But others want their share, particularly Laurie, the overweight stranger from California, who comforts Arthur as he lies dying, and has a mysterious aganda of her own that changes all their lives. For buried deep in the books lie secrets which threaten to be revealed as the family begins to crumble under the heavy burden of their inheritance. Spanning several decades, from the heyday of the British film industry after the war to the cut-throat world of show business in Los Angeles, Mr. Toppit is a riveting tale of the unexpected effects of sudden fame and fortune. Not since Jonathan Coe's What a Carve Up! has a novel managed to capture a family and a society to such wonderfully funny and painful effect.… (more)

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