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The Miseries of Mr. Sparrows

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Robin Sparrows is no Great Detective. He's not a dashing gentleman. He's not even a stalwart companion. No, Mr. Sparrows is a humble and hapless clerk at Winston Winston & Crumpet, the wickedest law firm in all of Victoria's empire. But when he is charged with delivering a mysterious box to the arch-fiend Kermit J. Tarnish his life of quiet misery is transformed into a quagmire of murder, mud, and madness.

Unwilling, unaided, and unprepared, Robin must wander the fog-drenched streets of the Capital hunting the last man he wants to find. But exactly who is hunting whom? What can one young law clerk really know about love? And how much trouble can one frog cause? At least some of these questions will be answered as Robin confronts brutish valets, quarrelsome cross-dressers, dithering policemen, forlorn soldiers, and sneering phantoms, before learning the scandalous truth behind a shameful war.

Truly, there is no rest unto the wicked, nor it seems, unto their clerks.

179 pages, Kindle Edition

Published November 12, 2015

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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Profile Image for Chitra Iyer.
266 reviews54 followers
October 3, 2017
The Miseries of Mr. Sparrows by Matthew Timmins is a Victorian style, humorous tale of Mr. Robin Sparrows. Fans of old English style writing and that of Dickens would really enjoy this book.

Mr. Robin Sparrows is a law clerk in old Victorian London and is haplessly going about his quiet life when he is handed an assignment to deliver a package to the notorious, Kermit J. Tarnish. As if his miseries weren't enough, Mr. Sparrows now embarks on journey filled with murder, lots of craziness and empathizing events but can our simple law clerk manage to deliver the parcel? Or will his new found misfortune overpower him?

The book is a good read, especially for someone who loves Dickens's style of character description. The story line is good, but a little abrupt at times. The narrative was smooth, mirroring the writing style perfectly. I really loved the protagonist, Mr. Sparrows. The story has lots of humorous moments and I earnestly empathized with the poor Mr. Sparrows each time.

Apart from the jerky(at times) narrative, I didn't find anything wrong with the book. It is a fun read and will take you back to the Victorian age. It was a pleasant change to be reading something so different and crisp after long.

Definitely recommended for lovers of classic style writing.
Profile Image for Francesca Forrest.
Author 20 books86 followers
Want to read
November 15, 2015
Sonya Taaffe recommended this book, and it sounds really interesting. She wrote,

It's a hard book to synopsize, not because nothing that happens in it matters, but because so much of what happens in it matters on a level that is barely perceptible to its harried protagonist. Late in the year 1869 of a Victorian century that somewhat resembles our own, or perhaps early in the same 1870—the calendar is not the only bewildered authority in this story—the task of delivering a mysterious box to its equally murky owner devolves on Robin Sparrows, the long-suffering clerk of the wickedest law firm in Claudon. He is supposed to return it to a prisoner by the apt name of Tarnish, the man who over twenty years ago embroiled Albion in the disastrous Crocodile War and broke it from an imperial power to something the sun is quite definitely setting on. It is a story known by every schoolchild in Albion, the shame and tragedy of the Empire; it is these bright painted colors of heroes and villains and patriotism and myth that Robin finds himself raking up and reevaluating as he traces the ghosts of the Crocodile War from Minister's Tower to the slums of Scurwell—and he scarcely has time to notice, overtaken as he is by misadventure after misadventure as he tries gamely and rather hopelessly to fulfill his commission. It's very funny, with a strong component of the absurd and the grotesque; it can shift gears instantly into real, three-dimensional consequences or poignancy and even now and then a touch of the numinous. The city is a character. So are the islands of Crocodon. The elevator pitch would probably be, "A bit like Bleak House if one of the original Jarndyces had started the Trojan War. Also, Kafka." And although the book is titled after Robin, it cannot help but feel significant that the one character who really understood everything that happened those long, legend-burnished years ago is the person with whom Robin cannot communicate at all.

I'm sold! Looking forward to sharing my own opinions sometime in the next months.
Profile Image for Heather Bradbury.
64 reviews2 followers
April 11, 2017
The Miseries of Mr. Sparrow tells the story of Robin Sparrow; a clerk working for the law firm Winston Winston and Crumpet, as he embarks on a quest to deliver a parcel to Mr. Tarnish. Set within the Victorian era any fans of Dickens will be sure to enjoy this quirky tale as they follow the troublesome and somewhat fatal adventures of Robin.

The plot to description ratio was excellent. I found the plot fairly easy to follow, my only slight (and I mean very minor indeed) criticism being that there could be more information about how Robin found all the places and people he visited. I particularly enjoyed the ending, and was pleased to find that it was not at all rushed; a consistency of quality writing being apparent throughout. The entire story was coherently written, Robin having the sole aim of delivering the package, there were no unnecessary romances blossoming or bizarre additions. The characterisation was another element to be praised. The reader pities dear Robin who is rather thrown into the task of locating Mr. Tarnish without any kindness from his evil employees, and seems to be blamed for a multitude of extraordinary things. The police team were perhaps my favourite – with outstandingly wild theories over how Mr. Tarnish had committed some deeds, they proved to be very comedic.

The writing style is confident, witty and intelligent with all the warmth that the best authors carry. From the genre description of somewhat Dickensian I knew that this would be a good read and I was certainly not wrong there – it’s rare that I’ll write an honest review for an author’s first novel and struggle to find any improvements at all but in this circumstance even the font was beautiful! The book contains lots of literature goodies, with minor references to Greek mythology, Dante’s Inferno, Sherlock Holmes and character comparisons to Iago (Othello) and Merlin. As an English Literature student, naturally this meant I was beaming at each.

Normally I’d write a longer review but I’m not sure what else I can say except that it is an excellent read. There’s nothing in it that stands out as inappropriate so I’d recommend this to all ages. I look forward to reading more of Timmin’s work in the future!
Profile Image for Alex Hansen.
Author 24 books18 followers
December 29, 2015
This might be the best indie novel I've read all year.

It isn't really plot-driven or character-driven, but it totally works. It's a bit slow to start, but once you get into it, it's easy to get caught up in the imaginative faux-Victorian world and the various colorful characters who populate it. The writing is smooth and fluid and witty, making it a joy to read even in places where the plot is dragging a little. The mystery of Kermit J. Tarnish's box and the weird pseudo-historical backstory about the war with the Crocodons kept me turning the pages, too. It's very funny and very unique.
August 27, 2017
This is probably the most unique work I’ve reviewed in a very long time. It reads like a historical novel set in Victorian London, with a strong sense of place and gritty, Dickensian characters with lots of quirks and warts. At the same time, it’s very funny.

The setting is not exactly London but the very similar city of Claudon, capital of Albion, on the banks of the River Plew. Our anti-hero, Mr. Robin Sparrows, is a lowly legal clerk who is paid a pittance to do menial tasks for a disreputable law firm. He’s a timid, self-effacing fellow who falls prey to all sorts of dilemmas, most often due to the nefarious behavior of others. Still, his sense of duty propels him forward and keeps him going as he seeks to deliver a package to the Empire’s most notorious criminal, a man responsible for starting the Crocodile War with the nation of Crocodon.

I loved many things about this book. The writing is superb. The eccentric characters are entertaining, and the names of places — Upper-Hem-On-The-Edge, St. Audley’s Home for Limbless Soldiers — and the names of people — Lord Ernest Arenblast, the diminutive Warden Webert Stillbee — have the sparkling creativity of J.K. Rowling. I found myself chuckling at clever similes and plays on words as well as the outlandish situations in which the hapless Robin finds himself — attempting to hide on a windowsill while being attacked by a territorial pigeon was just one of many.

Readers with an appreciation for the mildly absurd and those who enjoy clever narrative and strong writing skills will find this refreshing novel most entertaining. If Mr. Sparrows were to return with new adventures, I would be happy to meet up with him again.

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Stanley McShane.
Author 9 books39 followers
May 4, 2017
In a Victorian world with a Londonesque backdrop, here is a delightfully unique Dickensonian tale of one Robin Sparrows, lowly and miserable law clerk. Introduced from the beginning in subtle satirical style, the story describes dark and scandalous views of a grimy city where it isn't difficult to smell the ever-present absence of a fully functioning sewer system, note the dark and dank streets, or habitats barely sufficient to keep body and soul together. Misery upon misery. Poor, timid Mr. Sparrows can barely tolerate his life and is now charged with delivering a mysterious box to an egregious Kermit J. Tarnish--and there's your sign (so to speak). His isn't the only name sufficient to emit a giggle or two, and indeed, the book seems full of designations deemed sufficient to produce a grin (e.g. "Lower Hill Home for Friendless Children"). The plot proceeds in stilted ole English as it follows Mr. Sparrows on one calamity after another in which he finally manages to ferret out Tarnish and deliver his package. From scoundrels to black-hearts, filthy rich to the infamous, Robin manages to slap-stick his way to success--of sorts. The chapters start out with a quick little blurb, alerting you to the next possible misfortune to assail the hapless Sparrows. I had two problems with the novel: The plot mires down a bit a couple times and there are occasions where the story takes an abrupt turn into the next scene without a proper segue or chapter change. I was given the book in exchange for a review. This is one quirky and unique novel--needs a little work. If you are looking for something different--check it out.
Profile Image for P..
1,450 reviews7 followers
July 31, 2018
Unfortunately, Miseries is just that. An overwritten book that goes nowhere.

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