The Pheasants Revolt – Brian Viner – Book Review

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This was one of the books that I recently bought at the annual Hastings Lions Book Sale and the first one that I’ve decided to read. It’s a biographical memoir and follows on where his first book Tales of the Country, which I still have to read, left off. As mentioned in my post about the book sale, I’d already started the book more or less as soon as I got home and it only took three sessions of reading to get through it. His writing flows very easily and you find you’re unable to stop yourself speeding through the stories. Although each chapter is a stand alone story of his family and their life in the British countryside, they are in chronological order so it still, in a way, reads like it’s one story.

It’s not a new book, the ones at the book sale seldom are, and was published in 2007. But from my own experience, although cities change rather quickly, life in the countryside is much slower paced so the stories in this book will ring as true today as when first published.

Although he’s not quite in Bill Bryson’s league as far as one liners go, Viner can still throw in one or two lines to make the reader chuckle along the way, for example – “Applying a razor blade to one’s scrotum is not a job anyone should do in a hurry.” – this from a story relating to his preparation for a vasectomy operation. It’s certainly an attention grabber. Actually, on reflection, he and Bryson do have a lot in common as far as their writing styles are concerned. Both write in the same way that a favourite long-lived uncle would bumble his way through stories of his dim and distant past. Getting lost on the way and taking several side paths before getting back on track to finish the story….and on occasion just getting totally lost.

He’s moved his wife and three children from the city to an old manor house in the Hereford countryside to “live the country life”, but he’s totally inept at country living. His idea of success is being able to walk across a cow paddock without standing in a cow pat, however he does learn how to turn a sheep up the right way…..please don’t ask – read the book.

His predominantly self-depreciating stories cover everything from – being a Beater during Grouse shooting season… the first day known as the ‘Glorious Twelfth’, and to grouse as ‘Bollocks, Is It Already That Time of Year Again?’ – coming home to find that the builders who have come to repair his house have spent a whole day putting up scaffolding against the wrong wall – the disaster faced when finding his two dogs had been out savaging sheep – discussing the delights and the downfalls of country dining – the right and wrong way, from experience, to raise chickens – his experiences of being a very minor celebrity – his discovery that one of his neighbours is, or I should say was, a notorious Madame (Madame Whiplash no less) and more.

It’s a very entertaining read and I will certainly make an effort to track down both his earlier book Tales of The Country, and a later one called Cream Teas, Traffic Jams and Sunburn, about the British on holiday. If they are anything like The Pheasants’ Revolt they will be witty and entertaining reads.

I can’t resist book sales.

Saturday 16th November brought around the annual Hastings Lions book sale. My daughter-in-law’s grandfather Morris helped to bring about the first Lions book sale over 30 years ago. This years was the first that he’d missed. He died a few days earlier . Very sad because he was such an outgoing and community oriented person. On a brighter note, once again there were thousands of books for sale. All used, secondhand, thirdhand and some really well read books donated by the community to the Lions and all money raised from the sale goes back unto the community in some form or another.

Part of my book haul from this years Lions book sale. A good balance of the old and reasonably new, plus a couple of classics and some non-fiction.

As it says in the caption, these were just some of the books I bought at the sale. They were mostly at the bargain price of 2 New Zealand dollars each and most were in good or very good condition despite their age. I also picked up a few books for my wife…which I think was a reasonable swap….cough cough. And I managed to even get a couple of photography books, one of which features the portraits of Steve McCurry, one of my favourite photographers. The deal at home is meant to be, “get rid of some books before you buy any more”. I always fail miserably at the getting rid part of the deal, but excel at buying some more. Oops!

So, as a result of the book sale purchases, my to read pile has grown considerably. Although I already have 2 other books on the go at the moment, I couldn’t resist starting Brian Viner’s book Pheasants’ Revolt – the second book about the transformation of his and his families lives in transitioning from Townies to living in the countryside. He is a very humorous writer, very easy to read and I find myself magically almost half way through the book at the first attempt….in a very short time. Absolutely loving it and wouldn’t mind trying to track down the first of his books…Tales of the Country.

I will do a quick review of Viner’s book in a later post. Meantime, better get back to it. Has anyone else been to any good book sales recently?

Thanks as usual for reading, commenting etc.