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A Short Gentleman

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  120 Ratings  ·  22 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
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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.
Mar 02, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
by Jon Canter, adapted by Robin Brooks

Hugh Bonneville stars as Robert Purcell, QC, a perfect specimen of the British Establishment, who applies faultless legal logic to his disastrous personal life.

Robert sails through all his exams, but finding a girlfriend is more testing.

Robert woos Elizabeth, by means of a putty-coloured carpet.

When dealing with his wife's lover, Robert employs his deadliest weapon: being a gentleman.

Robert's nemesis approaches, along with
Oct 02, 2016 Allan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a book for my 'In Person' book club, that I wouldn't otherwise have picked up, and to be honest, I was completely underwhelmed by the story - the characters were a little too cringeworthy for me, the comedy not really hitting the spot for me. Funnily enough, most of the others that read the book felt the same way - maybe it's a Belfast thing...
Feb 13, 2016 Wanda marked it as to-read
Recommended to Wanda by: Laura
13 FEB 2015 - a recommendation through Laura. Thank you, Dear Laura.
Mary Crawford
Apr 04, 2015 Mary Crawford rated it it was ok
This really wasn't my type of book. I felt more irritated than engaged in the social mores. There were a couple of laugh out loud moments and it was in my own era timeline but not sure I would have bothered to finish it if it wasn't a book club read.
Alan Draycott
Jul 01, 2014 Alan Draycott rated it liked it
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
Jul 17, 2014 Davidg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Elizabeth Moffat
Jul 22, 2012 Elizabeth Moffat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 29, 2014 Bill rated it liked it
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
May 19, 2014 Val rated it really liked it
Shelves: discuss-it
"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
Aug 02, 2011 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 09, 2014 Glenys rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 06, 2016 Bettie☯ rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura

Description: Hugh Bonneville stars as Robert Purcell, QC, a perfect specimen of the British Establishment, who applies faultless legal logic to his disastrous personal life.

1/4: Robert sails through all his exams, but finding a girlfriend is more testing.

Father James Hayes
Mother Nichola McAuliffe
Young Robert Josef Lindsay
Pilkington Ewan Bailey
Ticky Moxon-Smith Katherine Jakeways
Judy Page Tracy Wiles
Alan Temperley Gerard McDermott
Cindy Zeiher
Oct 31, 2014 Cindy Zeiher rated it it was amazing
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.
Mary Lou
Apr 10, 2015 Mary Lou rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Initially, this was one of those great books which make me laugh out loud, but that passed after about ten pages. My reactions changed to boredom and some mild annoyance interspersed with occasional amusement. I struggled to finish it, but the ending was the best section.
Carl Roff
Mar 11, 2014 Carl Roff rated it liked it
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
Oct 22, 2014 Graham Darvell rated it it was amazing
Very funny a must read!
Lorraine Currie
May 07, 2015 Lorraine Currie rated it it was amazing
Loved it
Jim Mowatt
Sep 17, 2014 Jim Mowatt rated it really liked it
Splendidly funny - a fine example of just how self-delusional we humans can be.
May 17, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it
Unbearably British. Very funny.
Martine Peacock
I feared this book would be dull, but I was immediately drawn in. Written very engagingly. Very droll. Not a dull moment.
Nick Bennett
Nick Bennett rated it really liked it
Oct 16, 2016
Sue rated it it was amazing
Oct 13, 2016
Gem Ortega
Gem Ortega marked it as to-read
Oct 04, 2016
Janet marked it as to-read
Sep 29, 2016
Becky rated it really liked it
Aug 29, 2016
Graham marked it as to-read
Aug 11, 2016
Susan Reid
Susan Reid marked it as to-read
Aug 10, 2016
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