Well the mincemeat is made and I am viewing it with a degree of suspicion normally reserved for spiders. The quantities involved turned out to be so vast that they wouldn’t all fit in a bowl, had to be decanted into the largest pan I own, and still threatened to escape. Slightly disturbingly it all disappeared into a very few pots, where squish it as I might there still seem to be little pockets for air (bad) and all I can see is suet and apple (unappetizing). It will be a few weeks until I know if it’s worked or if it’s the pickled herring all over again.
Billed as a legal whodunit, the murder mystery aspect is satisfying in a vaguely Agatha Christie way, but it’s not as a crime novel that this book really works. The characters are sketched in quick light lines, they are easy to imagine but without any real substance, and the plot relies on the device of unfeasibly long letters to explain everything, but none of this matters compared to the sheer glorious wordiness of it all. The characters exist to say clever, funny things. Not jokes as such, just delightful, complicated sentences which made me laugh, but with the sort of elusive quality which makes quotation pointless – if I started a quote it would last for pages.
Caudwell is destined to join the select ranks of authors who I will read and reread whenever I want cheering up. Her combination of elitism, classical allusions (so glad I have a dictionary of Saints), lightness of touch, and humour all make for particularly satisfying reading.
The post has failed to deliver today, I hope tomorrow brings the next book - until then I will be trying not to prod the mincemeat and looking for another book to suit my mood.