Burley Cross Postbox Theft by Nicola Barker
|Burley Cross Postbox Theft by Nicola Barker|
|Genre: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A collection of letters paints a wonderful picture of a Yorkshire village. You'll need to work at it a little in the early stages but it will repay you handsomely. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: April 2010|
|Publisher: Fourth Estate|
When a bag of twenty seven undelivered letters was recovered from behind a hairdresser's in Skipton it fell to two local policemen to investigate what would become known as Burley Cross Post Box Theft, for it was in the village of Burley Cross, just before Christmas, that the Post Box was forced open and the mail stolen. P C Roger Topping, of the Ilkley force, took over the case from his old school friend Sargeant Laurence Everill without any great hope of success, but the village was in turmoil and something had to be done.
I came by the book in a rather roundabout way. I live in a village with a not-dissimilar name. We're not far from Skipton and Ilkley and my daughter presented me with the book telling me that it was about our village. You'll recognise all the places, she said and it won't be too difficult to work out who some of the people are. How could I resist?
Whether it was about my own village or not I'm glad that I didn't resist because this book is superb. It's about Every Village. Where everyone knows everyone else's business and pettiness is a career choice. There are the usual village problems – dog fouling features large – with amateur dramatics to fill the time. An Auction of Promises goes dreadfully wrong and there's some rather dodgy sex therapy. As I say – it's just like home.
Anyone who lives in a village will recognise the people. They're prominent in local affairs (in more than one sense) and you're likely to see their names in the local paper – often in the 'letters to the editor' section. They jump from the pages and assault you, larger than life, as they are in real life. But it's not the people or the places – brilliant as they are – who make this book.
What makes this book so special is that what you get is the letters – all of them. They're all written at about the same time and none are responses, yet they give a picture of the village and the people – and eventually lead to the solving of the theft. To even consider writing the book in this form was an act of immense courage: to pull it off with style and produce such a wonderful book is genius. You'll have to work at it in the early stages and there will be quite a few occasions where you will be thumbing back and forth through the pages, but you will be repaid handsomely.
I wouldn't normally associate Nicola Barker with comic writing, but there are parts where it's impossible not to laugh out loud. It's delightful mischief-making mixed with bawdy humour. It's poignant and thought-provoking, but above all, it's brilliant.
I'd like to thank my daughter for passing this book on. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
This book is a one-off but if it appeals to you then we think that you might also enjoy The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason and The Secret History of Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
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