Epistolary commentary from a father to his son.
Starting in 1967 and covering a span of more than 20 years, Mortimer reproduces the correspondence his father, Roger, sent to him throughout his life. These letters, along with brief explanations of the circumstances or context of each letter by the son, provide "humorous insight into the life of a mildly dysfunctional English middle-class family in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980.” There's the mother, aka Nidnod, who loves to fox hunt, drink and entertain; the author's older sister, Jane, aka Miss Cod-Cutlet; the younger sister, Louise, aka Lumpy Lou; and a host of other characters who ramble in and out of Mortimer's letters. The father frequently reflects on his son's inability to hold a steady job and ponders when he will ever amount to anything; the son even admits his “endless shortcomings, failures, disasters and general inability to live up to the high hopes and aspirations” his parents had for him. Dogs and horses abound, in the field and underfoot, as well as commentary on the latest horrible accident to occur in the neighborhood. Typical letters include reflections on the weather, and other themes include the lack of money, the exorbitant amount on the phone bill and the high cost of eating out. Droll humor abounds, as when the father describes one woman's work on the index of his forthcoming book: "[N]o sober individual could have done such a lamentable job. I have just sent in a note of protest that will ruffle a few feathers (I hope).” The author makes many references to British people in high society, which American readers may find difficult to follow. A brief glossary of British terms for an American edition would have been useful.
Entertaining letters that reflect genuine concern and love despite the rarely taken advice.