The Savoy Truffle
Published by Skylight Press, 2013
Set among the mansions and tennis clubs of Surrey’s richest suburb, The Savoy Truffle is a darkly comic drama that evokes an era when Mod gear was fab, the Shorty Nightie shocking, the coffee frothy, and a new Beatles’ single brought hysteria to the classroom. The grey post-war years are trembling on the verge of Technicolour, and the Blyte children are struggling to cope with the transition in their own idiosyncratic ways: Hugh’s novel is held up by yearning for the Irish au pair; Janey moons over the mystery of men and the enigmatic Black Mini; George wages savage war on his Enemy; and the Moo takes refuge in his exclusive Sloppy Club.
A crisis in their parents’ lives brings madness and death, a supernatural visitor and an all-too-real tiger… The children have to confront – and conquer – the follies of their elders with wit and invention.
What the writers and musicians said:
‘This is an unusual book because the voice is so singular. Set in the 1960s, and following the often-hilarious misfortunes of the lovable Blyte family, Savoy Truffle is written in silvery prose that is unique in both substance and style. Many modern novels have a homogenized feel, but this novel creates a unique world from an entirely familiar landscape. I can’t think of a book that captures so completely the intimacy of family life. Though the Blytes may be a little more flamboyant than most, their peculiar quirks, unwritten rules and closets full of skeletons are portrayed with an authenticity that is acutely observed. Whilst being extremely funny, displaying a comic versatility in characterization, turns of phrase, and situations, the novel also possesses an underlying tenderness, so that reading it was like visiting the house of someone I'm very fond of. Written with great flair, I’d recommend this to all those who love literature.’ Ian Wild, musician and author of Mrs Shakespeare etc.
‘If you like the books about the Mitford children ("The Pursuit of Love," etc.) or the Durrells ("My Family and Other Animals"), you too will gorge yourself with pleasure on "Savoy Truffle," which may or may not be about the Harpur family.
Patrick Harpur has perfect pitch for the intonations, the culture, and the neuroses of middle-class Britain in the early 1960s, and for the impact of Bond and Beatles, Minis and Mods on the post-war mentality; also for its freedom from later P.C. values. But you don't have to have lived then to appreciate the period flavour, any more than you have to have lived in Jane Austen's time to enjoy hers.
"Savoy Truffle" is a beautiful, wicked family novel, with the four children, their minds and their worlds, caught to perfection. Like the box of chocs on the cover, the book is sheer indulgence and you can devour the whole thing at a sitting, as I did, without serious after-effects.’ Professor Joscelyn Godwin, musicologist and author of The Forbidden Book, The Theosophical Enlightenment, The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance, The Golden Thread etc. etc.
‘The joyful offspring of a union between The Go-Between and I Capture the Castle.’ Evan Parker, saxophone maestro and colossus of free improvisation.
‘A very comical family - parents and four adolescents, highly articulate, fractious and inventive - and some of their neighbours living among the golf and tennis clubs, grand mansions and pop stars of a wealthy London suburb in the 1960s, comprise the disorderly cast. Their ways, words, idioms, trends and things - from Spam and semolina to the twist, pea-soupers and film star hair styles - vividly recall the background period. A fugitive Siberian tiger and a human female corpse play dramatic parts and add teasing suspense to the rich mix. Patrick Harpur toys with all these characters and their setting with wizardly wit and deftness. It's a very funny book - and much more.’ Brendan Lehane, author of Early Celtic Christianity, Wild Ireland, The Compleat Flea etc.
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