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Mr. Toppit

3.02  ·  Rating Details ·  1,281 Ratings  ·  252 Reviews
When Arthur Hayman, an unsuccessful screenwriter turned children’s book author, is accidentally hit by a cement truck in London, his dying moments are spent with a passing American tourist, Laurie Clow, who is fated to bring posthumous fame to his obscure series, The Hayseed Chronicles, and the enigmatic and sinister Mr. Toppit who is at the center of the books. While Arth ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by Other Press (first published February 1st 2009)
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Blair
I wouldn't exactly say this book had me gripped, and yet somehow I was interested enough to get through the whole thing in a few days, so clearly, it had something. It's written in a witty, enjoyable tone, with lots of dry humour, memorable descriptions and fun cultural references. The plot provided constant surprises - the story turned out to be totally different from what I initially expected. However, I found the characterisation troubling and inconsistent; some of the characters are mere car ...more
Joel Brown
Dec 06, 2010 Joel Brown rated it liked it
The author was literary agent to AA Milne's estate, and he says he wrote this to ponder what would have happened to the real Christopher Robin if he'd grown up in the time of Harry Potter and tabloid fame. As a young boy, Luke is depicted in his troubled father's obscure series of English children's books, and finds unwanted fame when his father's accidental death and the scheming of an obsessed admirer from California catapult the books to Potteresque fame over a period of years.

As someone who'
...more
Jason Pettus
Nov 11, 2010 Jason Pettus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

This is the debut novel of a British producer of TV costume dramas (among other projects of his was the recent fantastic ITV/Masterpiece adaptation of Northanger Abbey) who for many years was a Young Adult literary agent; and indeed, this feels exactly like the kind of story that someone in that position w
...more
Judy
Feb 25, 2011 Judy rated it it was ok

While Mr Toppit turned out to be a pretty good read, the novel suffers from an identity crisis, as do its various characters. Charles Eton has combined fantasy, coming-of-age, the publishing business, celebrity, and dysfunctional family in an uneasy stew that occasionally induces queasiness in the reader.

His main theme is the psychic damage caused to a child who was used as a main character in his father's series of fantasy books. Collateral damage is inflicted on the boy's sister, who was NOT
...more
Robert
Nov 29, 2010 Robert rated it it was ok
Who is Mr. Toppit? When you find out you will care. Trying to remember why this was recommended to me...Luke is the sulking victim, Rachel is the gradually psychotic daughter, Martha is the drunken crazy mother, Arthur is the inaccessible father. Oh, and Laurie is...wtf is Laurie? Crazy fat person? Then there's Lila the crazy German illustrator? I just wanted this book to be over. I liked the ending. It's a bit of a mystery. But I ceased trying to keep the additional characters straight during t ...more
Lynne Perednia
Nov 09, 2010 Lynne Perednia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine sharing your name with the main character in a series of children's books written by your father. Now imagine being his sister, who isn't in the books. These dilemmas are the crux of Charles Elton's darkly comic, heartachingly marvelous Mr. Toppit.

Mr. Toppit is the character in the Hayseed Chronicles who is never seen, but who often compels young Luke Hayseed to undertake all sorts of adventures and tests of courage. At the end of the last book, Mr. Toppit emerges from the woods behind L
...more
Felice
Sep 28, 2010 Felice rated it really liked it
Wow! I have such a crush on this book. I heart Mr. Toppit and I want everyone else to as well.


Picture if you will my friend the lives of A.A. Milne and J.K. Rowling and the immense success of their immortal creations all mixed together with just a touch of Hamlet. You get a funny and dark casserole of cleverness, Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton. I remember reading that after having his childhood mined by his Father, the grown up Christopher Robin Milne said that, "My Father got where he was by clim
...more
Lydia Presley
Much like Christopher Robert Milne experienced, the fictional Luke Hayward has his life put down on paper by his father, Arthur Hayward. The result? The story told in this book.

To be honest, I flip-flopped back and forth between liking this book and wanting to just give up on it. It wasn't an easy read and there were some rather crude parts that had me feeling uncomfortable (and the end result will be me not recommending this book lightly). They were completely unnecessary and I am rather sad th
...more
Denise
Mar 03, 2011 Denise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dark and confusing, Mr. Toppit felt like a carnival fun house ride gone awry. Its the story of the Luke Hayman and the Hayseed Chronicles. Luke's father, Arthur, writes the Hayseed Chronicles which are published and languish in obscurity for many years. When Arthur dies a young American woman becomes mysteriously involved with the family, eventually rocketing the Hayseed Chronicles into widespread fame. None of the family, Luke, his sister Rachel, or his mother handles the new found fame well an ...more
Allie Riley
On the whole I enjoyed this novel. Stylistically it was well written and the central conceit was a good one. However I found the plot a little disjointed, not least because of the (I felt) wholly unnecessary character of Laurie. Quite why we needed so much of her backstory is beyond me - her subplot threatened to swamp the entire thing. I think it would have been a much tighter novel if she had been omitted - if someone else had been with Arthur at the accident (perhaps the colleague who claimed ...more
Gina
Feb 05, 2011 Gina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was totally messed up and I think the only reason I managed to get through it was because of the fairly decent writing and the format it was presented in with chapters per character. I did sympathise with main character Luke and felt quite sorry that he was embedded in a family of secrets and lies when he simply wanted to grow up as a normal boy. I am not a massive fan of modern fiction, probably because I like to escape when I read a book and when there are modern issues which I hear ...more
Laurie Notaro
Mar 17, 2012 Laurie Notaro rated it liked it
in a silly metaphor, the structure for this house was solid, but most of the rooms were empty.
Scuzzymonster
Jun 25, 2013 Scuzzymonster rated it liked it
Mister Toppit is gripping, compelling and for the most part well-written. It is also dark, grim, harrowing, creepy and all-round depressing. There is nary a character to like or admire. Elton took AA Milne's son Christopher Robin Milne's resentment at having himself immortalised as a characterised child as the idea for his book. The main character, Luke Hayman, is similarly cast as Luke Hayseed in his father's books The Hayseed Chronicles, which become a Potter-esque global phenonmenon after an ...more
Ape
Mar 20, 2011 Ape rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Connie Mayo
Feb 13, 2011 Connie Mayo rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book - it actually reminded me of the Jonathan Tropper books This Is Where I Leave You and The Book Of Joe, in that there is a family-and-friends cast of dysfunctional and funny characters that are laced through the story, and told in the first person by the son in the family.

In a nutshell, the father (Arthur) of the protagonist (Luke) wrote a series of Harry-Potter-like books years ago which were minimally popular and were not published outside of England. But when
...more
Gail Cooke
Dec 13, 2010 Gail Cooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a treat - an estimable debut novel read by multi-award winning narrator SimonVance! His voice is, as always, resonant, compelling, and he clearly distinguishes each character much to the delight of listeners. Vance must have enjoyed reading MR. TOPPIT as we certainly enjoyed his narration of this funny, touching and totally original story.

Arthur Hayman is an obscure screen writer who meets an untimely end when he’s run over by a concrete truck. In addition to his screen work which has rec
...more
Rauf
Nov 11, 2009 Rauf rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NO ONE.
Have you ever watched Frankenstein? I've only seen the Brannagh/De Niro version but that's not the point. Anyway. In an important scene of the film, Dr. Victor Frankenstein robbed a few graves and used the limbs and organs from corpses to piece together his Creature. One stormy night, he hoisted his Creation, let lightning zapped at it a few times, then of course, it was alive. It's ALIVE. The monster moved, talked, growled, killed.
Grrr. Arrgh.
Elton, in a way, was our mad scientist. Like Franke
...more
Greg
Jan 05, 2011 Greg rated it it was ok
This debut's promising beginning (unsung British author of a series of children's books is hit by a cement truck in London, and the American woman who happens to be at the scene will forever change the lives of the author's family after he dies) turns into a mess in the second half, when the story moves from England to L.A. The city is an unsurprising backdrop to showcase the plundered legacy of Arthur Hayman's Hayseed books, but there are too many threads and half-sketched characters to keep Mr ...more
Nicky Foster
Jan 19, 2015 Nicky Foster rated it it was ok
I feel really mean only giving this 2 stars because I sort of enjoyed it. The writing is engaging and I love odd characters - Martha should have featured more, she was a strange but funny part of the story. Luke was the one who featured in the Hayseed Chronicles but other than his reluctance to step into the limelight it seems to me that he was not overly bothered by anything, he was very apathetic and blasé about everything. I don't understand why the 2nd part of the book veered off in such an ...more
Belle Wood
Nov 29, 2014 Belle Wood rated it really liked it
A book about a book. Or,more precisely when a book your father has written comes back to haunt you. Mr Toppit himself never makes and appearance; he is a character in the Hayseed Chronicles, a book written decades ago that languished unloved, until by a curious twist of fate and the death of its author, it suddenly explodes into the public consciousness. But it wasn't just about Mr Toppit--the chronicles' main character was Luke Hayseed, who was modeled on the author's son. Much like the gothic ...more
Ariel
Mar 25, 2011 Ariel rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, read-2011
This could have been so much better. The premise is great, but the pacing and character development was very uneven.

[mild spoiler]

The hostility and contempt for the overweight American character Laurie Clow made me uncomfortable, and when she metasticizes into a kind of monstrous B-list Oprah and the book shifts to LA, away from England, the book totally loses its appeal. The pell-mell rush of the narrative made it weirdly gripping, but without real reward, it's a sour, sad, repellant story in
...more
Antony James
Feb 14, 2013 Antony James rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this immensely. The plot is great - a writer creates a series of charismatic children's novels which have a small, loyal following in his lifetime, but enjoy global success, spawning huge quantities of merchandising and spin-offs, after his death; the book is about his family's attempts to control his legacy and maintain dignity in the face of overwhelming pressure from various unpleasant people. very well done.
Nancy Martira
Nov 20, 2010 Nancy Martira rated it really liked it
If J.R.R. Tolkien had been hit by a truck in 1949; if Daniel Radcliffe had a cocaine addiction; if Padma Lakshmi were intelligent enough to be eccentric; if Oprah allowed herself to be bullied by lesbians ... if all of these things were true in our world, then our world would be this much closer to Mr. Toppit's world.

Krisnow18
Nov 12, 2015 Krisnow18 rated it it was amazing
I totally enjoyed this book. This is a book about a book. I REALLY want to read the series of books about Mr. Toppit and Luke Hayseed and the Darkwood. Of course there isn't such a series but there should be. It is beautifully written. The main story is about families - tragedy, life, loves, frustration - everything that happens to us all.
Ann
Jan 25, 2017 Ann rated it really liked it
Je moet erg tussen de lijnen lezen in dit schijnbaar simpele verhaal over een kinderboekenreeks die na de dood van de auteur immens populair wordt.
Het duurt wel even voor het verhaal op gang komt en de introductie van de personages is in het begin nogal warrig. Maar eenmaal Laurie op het toneel verschijnt springt het verhaal niet meer zoveel heen en weer in de tijd en wordt het duidelijker.
Hester
I decided to quit reading this a third of the way through the book. The characters, other than Luke and Arthur, are so god-awful that I could not force myself to finish it.
Jennifer
Jun 11, 2009 Jennifer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
Picked it up at the railway station. The beginning was decent, and from there it got worse and worse.
Margaret
Dec 29, 2010 Margaret rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gerund
Jan 21, 2009 Gerund rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can’t read this book and not think: Harry Potter.
No, not in the sense that this debut novel by Charles Elton, a producer with British television network ITV, hopes to be the successor of JK Rowling’s wildly popular and lucrative wizard series.

Rather, at the centre of this novel is a fictional set of wildly popular children’s books with a large and devoted following.
Titled the Hayseed Chronicles, the books are depicted as inspiring all manner of outlandish fanatical behaviour, from fans who
...more
Carol
Jan 19, 2011 Carol rated it liked it
This is a whimsical book of an accidental relationship. Most of the first half concerns Laurie Clow an unhappy overweight woman who plays records on a radio station which is housed in a hospital. Laurie is single and unhappy with her mother,Alma. Alma is living in a rest home and is not getting along with anyone. A manager at the home has summoned Laurie to a meeting to decide what to do with (move out) Alma as the home has difficulty with her. At the same time away across the Atlantic Ocean in ...more
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Dear Reader,

Fifteen years ago I began writing Mr. Toppit when I was a Literary Agent representing the Estate of AA Milne, author of Winnie The Pooh. I learned the story of Milne’s son, Christopher Robin Milne, who grew to hate the fame his father’s books brought him. To reshape that idea in a modern context was the single idea that was the genesis of my novel.

During the years I spent writing, ano
...more
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