I recently took 2 train rides back and forth from NYC for two days in a row. Since the ride is just shy of 2 hours, I usually bring a book that is a bit easier to read and I can more than likely finish on the ride. This time around, I finished 3.5 books with The Gentleman by Forrest Leo being the second book I finished. I picked this one on a whim and I am glad to state that it was a perfect train book.
Lionel Savage is a Victorian poet who has run out of money buying books. Even though he sits on a huge pile of books, he is flat broke. He marries Vivien Lancaster for her money, but finds himself unable to write poems any longer.
He becomes distraught and is ready to kill himself when his sister, a free spirit, come bursting through the doors. A costume party is thrown and the Devil shows up looking to make Lionel be his friend. Lionel accepts The Devil's friendship, loans him a book, cannot find his wife the next day, and is still unable to write poetry. His sister's brother shows up from his safari, when all of a sudden Lionel realizes what has happened- he accidentally sold his wife to the Devil. Now he must take his sister, his brother in law, and himself to hell to go rescue his wife.
This is a silly novel that plays itself off completely straight which adds to the silliness of the novel, if that makes sense. It is meant to be a funny and silly novel, but it isn't so self aware that it comes off as fake, but rather tries to stick to the genre it is centered around- namely Victorian era banter.
There are lots of- "my word," "tally hos," and a few "my good man" throughout the book. It is that type of language. The characters are also caricatures and are meant to be so- Lancaster is an over the top explorer, Lizzie is the free spirited Victorian girl straight from the pages of your favorite Victorian book, etc. That is part of the fun.
There are also some wonderful art pieces throughout the book that break it up a bit, such as one would find in a Victorian book. They too are silly. One of my favorites was one of Lionel sitting in a giant chair with books not only thrown about, but the chair sits on a pile of books. It was my dream chair. It is just fun
The only critique is because it is a parody it becomes a bit long and a bit too much after a bit. We could have gotten to our destination just a bit faster, for my taste, once we had established all the key players. It is still a fun book though and worth a read, but maybe a library or a sale.
I gave this one 3.5 stars.
Here is your Amazon link- The Gentleman by Forrest Leo