SADLER'S BIRTHDAY by Rose Tremain

SADLER'S BIRTHDAY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The life of Jack Sadler, an aged butler who has inherited the mansion of his childless employers, unrolls smooth as Victorian plush, and, although you'll suspect, you'll not fully realize until the contemporary close that this British firstnovelist has more than a moony Downstairs spin-off in mind. Through flashbacks, which flicker off and on in random chronological order within his wavering consciousness, Jack's career is reconstructed: a brief happiness in infancy with his unwed mother and kind grandfather; a boyhood with mother in service--their bed, their small room with the pastoral painting on the wall; early training as footman; Jack's years as perfect butler with the Colonel and the Colonel's sweet, scattered wife Madge (who never complained about his impotence); Jack's one passionate affair with a boy from London during the war; and, then, the Queen's coronation superimposed upon the surreal death of the Colonel and Madge. Jack at 72 is crabbed, ungracious and has no particular purpose in survival--until the day he remembers the key to his old room, so much like that of his childhood. Prepare for a jolt when you stumble upstairs with Jack, in this most mellow of diversions discreetly laced with bitters.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's