The Gentleman by Forrest Leo
During a masquerade party Lionel Savage meets the Devil and loses his wife. With her gone he realises that there is more to her and the world around him than he thought.
“Being a Truthful Account Concerning the Hazards of Love, Marriage, Duels, Poetry, Inventors, Family, Anarchists, Airships, Intercourse with the Devil, Ladies’ Undergarments, Painting from Life….”
- Maybe characterisation … but not much
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Absolutely loved this book it was funny and witty and oddly enough reminded me of Shakespeare.
The story centres on Lionel Savage, a poet who married for money. Despite being annoyingly oblivious – and selfish, let’s not forget that- I found him to be a compelling character. His reaction … well everyone’s reaction really … to meeting the Devil was hilariously … very British. Just understated and polite, not how I would imagine it happening in real life. He is well read and lives my dream of having a library in his house…. oh and he is remorseful about everything he’s done, or thinks his done.
He is the narrator … mostly. It’s actually meant to be his written memoir which is edited by a Hubert Lancaster. Hubert does make a appearance in the narrative but it’s very brief, though his scene is the bit that most reminds me of Shakespeare, specifically Twelfth Night. Despite the brief appearance he does feel every bit a main character since he keeps leaving little notes and making comments all the way through. Usually I hate being reminded that I’m reading a book, which these comments should have done, but they were just so funny that I loved them.
Have to admit that my favourite characters were Lionel’s butler and sister – Simmons and Lizzie. Simmons is every bit the perfect butler with a good dry humour – kind of reminded me of Alfred in Batman – though every now and then he made comments which didn’t seem in character, but that was easy to ignore. Lizzie is just brilliant in her lack of care of reputation and social conventions. She’s a bit foolhardy and hates not knowing anything. She’s the kind of person I would love to have as a sibling.
There are other characters … obviously… all of whom are interesting; including the Devil, but that would be spoiling the book a bit too much to talk about them.
The plot itself was fun and was a weird mix of not expecting and expecting at the same time. I worked out the character of some of the people reasonably quickly but not the exact details of what they did … I don’t really know how to explain it.
There are some nice drawings that actually made me laugh and some lovely descriptions, especially of London. Loved the allusions to literature and art, as well as mythology.
Overall just a great book which is well worth a read.
The Gentleman by Forrest Leo:-