FANFARE FOR TIN TRUMPETS by Margery Sharp (Dean Street £10.99, 222 pp)


by Margery Sharp (Dean Street £10.99, 222 pp)

In this 1930 gem, young Alistair inherits £100, bids farewell to suburbia and the constant clatter of lawnmowers, and escapes to London. He and a pal shack up in a frowsy attic, sink and tap on the landing, near Paddington’s Old False Teeth shop. His dream is to become a writer — a thousand words a day? Piece of cake — but there are the Cockney housemates shouting up the stairs to each other, the landlady’s rheumy, ogle-eyed ribaldry, the distracting lure of the nearby Cock’n’Bottle, and gorgeous girls in bedsits.

Alistair longs to sit at the feet of great men, drinking in their wisdom; instead, literary events are packed with raffish, snoozing old-timers, and Bohemian poets and artists just get drunk and maudlin.

Will writer’s block, agonising, unrequited love, the ordeal of living on £2 a week and a vague nostalgia for clattering lawnmowers dash all hopes? Absolute fun and larks.


A PLACE LIKE HOME by Rosamunde Pilcher (Hodder £16, 304pp)

by Rosamunde Pilcher (Hodder £16, 304pp)

This collection of romantic short stories are the absolute sticky-toffee-pudding of the genre. True love always finds a way, hearts skip beats, lips tremble, niggling uncertainties dissolve, old flames re-emerge, lovestruck women date men who never pop the question and jealousy claws at broken hearts.

There are no raunchy sex scenes, no kinkiness: a ‘lingering kiss’ is as steamy as it gets, with Pilcher adding wise little musings such as ‘loving a person is not finding perfection but forgiving faults’, and ‘thousand-mile journeys begin with the first step.’

A glowing preponderance of happy endings leaves you feeling like the blissful, newly proposed-to Sally who thinks she has sailed ‘into harbour after a long, lonely journey’. Aah. Bless.

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