I decided to read Dolly Dialogues by Anthony Hope for the comic novel category in Back to the Classics Challenge 2019 which is hosted by Karen of Books and Chocolate.
This slim book has 144 pages consisting of 20 short chapters which were originally published separately in the Westminster Gazette. The book was first published in 1994 and it is really quite funny with some laugh out loud bits.
Dolly is a young flibbertigibbet who soon changes from Miss Dolly Foster by becoming the wife of Lord Mickleham who is wealthy but rather boring. Her husband’s mother and sisters disapprove of his choice of wife, not that that bothers Dolly.
Dolly has had lots of romances with various young men and Sam Carter is one of them and her marriage doesn’t hold her back from having him as a close friend and according to her mother-in-law – indulging in ‘romping’ with him. This is a fun comedy of Victorian manners.
This book was first published in 1924 and it’s the spoof autobiography of Augustus Carp who lives in Camberwell,London. He’s a humourless, religious pedant and a bufoon. A ghastly character all round really who resorts to blackmail to get on in the world but never sees his own behaviour as bad.
It is funny but I think it’s one of those books which is best shared with a friend(s) and read out aloud. There’s an introduction by Robert Robinson, the book was a family favourite, he was introduced to it by his father and it became a sort of touchstone for them, something which they communicated by.
It’s like a nasty version of Diary of a Nobody, the difference being that Mr Pooter is a harmless likeable chump, the opposite of Carp. The book has illustrations by Marjorie Blood who was also a cartoonist for Punch.
The author of the book was a mystery for years but it was discovered after his death that he was in fact Sir Henry Howarth Bashford an eminent Hampstead doctor who eventually became Hon. Physician to King George VI. He wrote numerous professional works but Augustus Carp was his only foray into comic fiction. He died in 1961.