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A Short Gentleman

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  154 ratings  ·  26 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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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  154 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Petra-X is down to 75 books awaiting reviews
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.
Feb 13, 2016 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
Feb 13, 2016 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 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... ...more
Mary Crawford
Mar 22, 2015 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. ...more
Feb 13, 2016 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Wanda by: Laura
13 FEB 2015 - a recommendation through Laura. Thank you, Dear Laura.
Alan Draycott
Jul 01, 2014 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
Beth (bibliobeth)
Jul 18, 2012 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. ...more
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
The device is funny to start with but wears a bit thin
Cate Buxton
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious, loved it.
Jill Meyer
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
British comedic writer Jon Canter has written, "A Short Gentleman", which is the story of a short gentleman who is recounting a crime he committed. This crime - never specified til late in the book - is certainly not one the reader would expect this Oxford-trained "Queen's Counsel", measured in every phase of his life, to make. His confession, written in the first person, is the entire book.

Okay, Robert Purcell, QC, is a short-in-stature but long-in-accomplishment. Born in the mid-1950's to a ju
Aug 02, 2011 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
Jul 17, 2014 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
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 17, 2014 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
Apr 29, 2014 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
Feb 09, 2014 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. ...more
Cindy Zeiher
Oct 30, 2014 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. ...more
Carl Roff
Feb 22, 2014 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! ...more
Mary Lou
Mar 28, 2015 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.
Lorraine Currie
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved it
Graham Darvell
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very funny a must read!
Apr 24, 2014 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.
rated it it was amazing
Jun 26, 2020
Tony Miller
rated it liked it
Apr 20, 2016
Franceska Anne
rated it it was amazing
Jun 24, 2013
Heather Davies
rated it it was ok
Oct 02, 2015
Sarah Kiernan
rated it did not like it
Aug 08, 2015
Andrew Oakes
rated it it was ok
Mar 26, 2012
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