Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Mr Toppit by Charles Elton

Arthur Hayman wrote a children's book, The Hayseed Chronicles. Not a success in his lifetime, after his death the book achieved success of Harry Potter-esque proportions. The central character of The Hayseed Chronicles is based on Arthur's son Luke (like AA Milne and Christopher Robin). Luke Hayman resents this and struggles with the attention it brings him but as his father is dead he has no-one to be angry with. Anyway, he does better than his sister Rachel, who doesn't feature in the book at all. This seems to have affected her confidence and she spends her life searching for contentment and an identity.
The Hayseed Chronicles became famous in the most unlikely way. An American tourist is present at the accident which kills Arthur Hayman. She feels a strange connection with him and accompanies him to the hospital, then with his family back to their house where she makes herself useful cooking and cleaning. Laurie is an unhappy person. She lacks self-esteem and is put upon by her mother, her friend and her employer. Somehow this experience with the Hayman family kickstarts something inside her. She gradually increases in confidence and begins to stick up for herself. She decides to read from The Hayseed Chronicles on her hospital radio show. This is such a success that her career takes off and she becomes famous, as do The Hayseed Chronicles.
I was really looking forward to this book and I think perhaps I expected too much of it. I thought I would love it and I didn't, though I did enjoy it. I felt like a lot of it went over my head. For example I didn't understand the significance in the Hayman's lives of Mr Toppit, who is a character in The Hayseed Chronicles. I'm sure this is the main point of the book so I really felt like I was missing something. I will read it again at some point because I really want to love it.

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