Mr Toppit was recently published by Penguin, with the emphasis being on the Mr Toppit of the title.. a marketing push which caught my eye. The book, however, tells the story of an author, his family, and one of his greatest fans.
The author of the story is Arthur Hayman, a screenwriter who writes a series of books which feature his son Luke. These books are collectively known as the Hayseed Chronicles, and if you remove the dustcover of this hardback version, their is an old looking cover depicting this.
However, it’s only after Arthur’s death that these books gain popularity, and the book deals with the effects of this, on Luke, his family, and Laurie.. an American stranger who is with Arthur as he dies.
We see most of the story through the eyes of Luke, caught up in the popularity of the books, even though this isn’t something he welcomes. Luke has a wonderfully dysfunctional family, all dealing with their own issues and histories. I personally wasn’t so keen on the part of the book in which Luke visits Laurie in America, but it is part of the overall tale.
It’s a difficult book to categorise, but it explores family relationships, fame, and dealing with past secrets. The characters are all well written, if not always totally likeable, and I wonder how long it will be before we see Penguin publish the actual Hayseed Chronicles!
Published by Penguin 5/2/09