During the hot summer months, I find it is a good opportunity to read books, sitting in a cooler shady place. I tend to read old favourites again and again, but this year I have introduced a couple of books, by new authors.
To start off, an old favourite.
This is my book review of The Darling Buds of May by H.E.Bates
I became a fan in 1973 after watching a television programme entitled The Four Beauties, written by H E Bates, a period drama about a young man’s affairs with three beautiful sisters, it was romantic and a little naughty, perfect for an impressionable teenager.
On researching H. E. Bates I realised that he had been born in Rushden, Northamptonshire, and therefore a local writer. I then began reading “The Darling Buds of May” which introduces the irresistible Larkin family and their exploits over five books in all.
Growing up on Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, I love a book where eating good home cooking is emphasised. The Darling Buds of May begins and ends with an eating and drinking extravaganza.
Sidney Larkin is a lovable character, with an eye for a good deal. The book starts with a visit from the tax man. How does Pop Larkin deal with the visit? How he deals with everything, shrewdness, humour and lots of booze.
It is difficult to ignore the contrast between this opportunistic brash confident Larkin family and their neighbours, who, once well off, find it difficult in austere post war England.
The Darling Buds of May, the first, and in my opinion the best, although “A Breath of French Air” that finds the Larkins on a Continental sojourn is nearly as enjoyable.
It is easy to forgive the hard working Larkins everything as the reader is welcomed into their excessive and generous lives. The Yorkshire Television series, available on DVD is an excellent book to tv crossover. David Jason, Pam Ferris, Catherine Zeta Jones and Philip Franks portray the characters brilliantly and brings H.E. Bates’ writing to a wider audience.
I have read the book so many times and watched the TV series, it captures a mythological era of humour, family life and halcyon days. Perfick!