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But he and his guests have been saved from certain death by an apparition - in the form of a certain deceased English princess with great legs.

Tragedy plus time

Or, at least, that's how the money-spinning rumour has it And so begins a farcical comedy of eccentric Diana pilgrims, dead dinner guests, bad opera and Gerry's speciality field-mouse vol-au-vents. Every bit as outrageous as Cooking with Fernet Branca , James Hamilton-Paterson's latest novel is not for anyone who takes royalty or, indeed, anything else too seriously.

Ken Thomson explores the melodic and delicious world of James Hamilton-Paterson

Brilliant Gerald Samper Novel 3. This effete over the top "writer" of boring sports celebrities and "master chef" of Mice Krispies returns again when his Tuscan roof-top villa is destroyed in an earthquake, he tells his neighbors that the angel Princess Diana saved him!

Rancid - "The Highway" (Full Album Stream)

It's about myth and glam. It's about credulousness. He even collaborates with his dubious and inescapable neighbor, Marta, whom he hires to compose the score to his libretto.

Only bits and pieces of the opera are revealed -- and unfortunately: I'm afraid I daren't divulge the two arias I have written for her and Charles when their respective extramarital affairs become revealed via eavesdropped conversations. I'm pinning great hopes on these "Squidgy" and "Tampax" scenas and it would be a shame to spoil their effect by giving the game away in advance. Suffice it to say they employ a device that as far as I know is novel in opera although not in gynaecology.

Hearing a run-through, Adrian opines these arias come off as "sensationally strange".


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There's not all too much to the story, but Rancid Pansies ambles along pleasantly enough. The real pleasure of the read is in having Samper leading the way, his carefully phrased and clever and opinionated expressions sustained for almost the entire book.

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“Rancid Pansies”: A third helping of smart silliness

There's a bit of social criticism here, but on the whole Rancid Pansies is largely entertainment for entertainment's sake -- and it delivers quite well. If Hamilton-Paterson does occasionally resort to the puerile -- gorilla costumes and projectile vomiting, for example -- Rancid Pansies is nevertheless a most enjoyable and occasionally very funny read.

Orthofer , 10 April At the end of Amazing Disgrace , however, Samper has his own misfortune — during his 50th birthday celebration with friends at his home on a Tuscany hillside, an earthquake sends his house plummeting down the hillside, ending as a pile of rubble. A makeshift shrine there soon becomes a grotto, and the local mayor and the comune see the tourist potential for marketing the site.


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  • Marta Priskil the anglicized name used by the Voynovian composer and former nemesis of Samper, who lives in the house next door can no longer work at home because of the noise and distraction. Hamilton-Paterson is too good a writer to rely on low humor like the disgusting food conceit for the entire novel.