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A Short Gentleman

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  75 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Another funny and thoughtful story from Seeds of Greatness author Canter: Robert has had a privileged upbringing, but his life falls apart when he commits a crime that sends him to prison. He struggles to come to terms with the forces that brought him down.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by Jonathan Cape
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Petra X
Genius. Totally brilliant. With an unguessable stunning ending that made perfect sense and capped off a very funny and beautifully-written book with an open-mouthed surprise. What audaciousness to turn the hero on his head like that!

Any more and it would spoil the book.
Alan Draycott
An amusing read. The superiority of barristers in their working sphere is always amusing to see and I must admit that I regularly bow down to them when their intellectual efforts stagger a plodder like me. This book is amusing in how this superiority develops and the mindset needed for it to continue. My favourite line of many is the incredibly insulting, hugely understated, but magnificently accurate line relating to an unimpressive female that he has to spend time with, "Sophie read the Sunday ...more
Davidg
I am grateful that Waterstones included this in their promotions earlier this year. The original publishing passed me by; I remember no reviews or anything like that.

It is wonderful autobiography of a rich, privileged snob who is totally unaware of his own weaknesses and prejudices. Imagine a more educated and successful Mr Pooter. Robert Purcell details his perfect life and parents, showing the weaknesses that he himself is blind to. And it all builds up to his fall from grace - this isn't a sp
...more
Bill
You probably have to be English was a smattering of exposure to the upper classes to get every nuance in this book. Sometimes I was flinching at a sentence and then chuckling knowingly at the next one. One is so very glad that one isn't the main character that it can be hard to sustain empathy for him, and the very rigidity of his personality (a central theme) limits the author's ability to develop him in any way. It would be interesting to argue that this character is a form of unaware asperger ...more
Stan Dandyliver
An agreeable read but ponderous and, at times, daft. I found myself wanting to slap Purcell with a big fish, almost as much as I wanted to drown Mike Bell in a vat of export retsina (sold as Toilet Duck in most UK supermarkets). Apart from being an insufferable snob, Purcell appeared too dimwitted and socially inept to have any of the qualifications of a barrister, let alone a silk. Canter clearly wants you to think that he was a man of integrity and tolerance. However he came across as weak and ...more
Val
"A Short Gentleman" is very funny and very English in a way, we love deflating the middle class and pompous. The protagonist is a self opinionated snob, who repressed his emotions to such an
extent he almost denied having any, but I did quite like him. He tried to do the 'right thing' and to be fair, honest, generous and was much less selfish than most of the people around him. I felt sorry for him a lot of the time. He must have been exasperating for his wife though, I'm surprised she put up wi
...more
Claire
From the beginning of this book we know it is a recount of a man's life leading up to a crime he commits which changes the course of his life. He doesn't drop many hints as to what his crime might be and I found myself guessing throughout as he isn't exactly a criminal being that he is on the right path to becoming a Judge. This is the first book I've ever read where I found it difficult to be anything but indifferent about the main character for most of the story. He (Robert Purcell) is very mu ...more
Glenys
Well, a tour de force! The unforgettable protagonist is well conceived and sustained, such a pitiable monster yet by the end almost admirable. Even the lapses (e.g. A 'crate' of Burgundy; 'dessert' rather than pudding) set me wondering if they were deliberate clues that all was not as it seemed with this English gentleman. And, above all, it's funny. Well done Mr. Canter! Highly recommended as a very enjoyable read.
Cindy Zeiher
A wonderful satire on English class and pomp. I highly recommend reading this book not alongside domestic life (as I did), but rather, when one is settled in the countryside, glass of grandfather port in hand, so that one's laughter and bemusement carries into the distant hills and disturbs no one.
Carl Roff
Lovely, humorous writing - reminded me of P.G. Wodehouse. Disappointed with the ending, but I guess that's because I sympathised so much with the main character I wanted a happier conclusion for him!
Graham Darvell
Very funny a must read!
Jim Mowatt
Splendidly funny - a fine example of just how self-delusional we humans can be.
Robert
Unbearably British. Very funny.
Elizabeth Moffat
A really charming and funny novel which I might not have picked up were it not for my book club. I'm glad I did as I discovered an excellent main character and some hilarious writing. Some of the footnotes were quite frankly, genius.
Martine Peacock
I feared this book would be dull, but I was immediately drawn in. Written very engagingly. Very droll. Not a dull moment.
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