Who is 'ER? What is she? A medieval beauty whose likeness was carved on a brass burial plate back in the 14th century....
Switch to the 1960s. The lady is still snugly interred at the bottom of what is now an English garden attached to a rented house in the sleepy town of Poke-on-Thames. Along comes a schoolteacher/archaeology buff fresh out of St. Louis, Missouri, who exhumes her from a bed of dahlia corms. The discovery - a rare and valuable find - sets off a chain of events that shatters the town's perennial tranquility to its staid foundations.
Others are also caught up in this zany caper: a hustling American businessman; a slum-born pop singer on the wane; the rich, amorous queen of Poke-on-Thames' American colony; and a motley parade of juicy English locals. Everything explodes in a farcical, slapstick climax that leaves Poke-on-Thames reeling.
With funny-man Shepherd Mead calling the turns, it adds up to a hilariously good-natured spoof of all the English classes, including government bureaucrats, archaeology aficionados, expatriated Americans, and anything else in the line of fire. 'ER crackles with the same sense of free-wheeling fun that made Mead's earlier book, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying a comic classic.
A few months ago, while looking for authors similar to Christopher Moore, I ran across this book by Shepherd Mead. The summary sounded interesting, and I found out that he grew up in the same town I did and that he references it in this story. I was very excited. But there were no reviews for this book. I'm a careful researcher and I hate going into anything blindly, so I put this one in my wishlist and waited. And waited.....still no reviews. I was tired of waiting so I downloaded it. I felt very brave and daring as I settled in to listen.
At first I was excited at the opportunity to be the first one to review it, but my excitement quickly faded as I got deeper into it. I am not a quitter! I will usually slug on through even the dullest of yawners. This book is an exception. I found myself looking to see if it was almost over. I got to the middle, and despairing that it would never improve, I gave up.
The first thing I noticed about this book is how much I hate the narrator. Sometimes I can overlook someone who has an annoying voice if the story is captivating. Even if that had been the case with this book (which it isn't) I don't think anything could have made me like Charles Bice. But to be fair, I went and listened to some samples of other books he's narrated. Nope. This guy just isn't for me. He's an over-actor and reminded me of when a serious actor tries to do a comedy, or the other way around. He's too over the top, and I feel he would make a mockery out of anything he reads.
Next, the story itself. (Oh, where to begin!) Long winded is the term that comes to mind first. You know those books that just grab you and suck you into the story? Well, this isn't at all like that. It kind of meanders here and there. It tries to be one thing, fails, then tries to be something else. I could see that the author was trying to poke fun at himself and everyone else who leaves the United States and lives elsewhere, but it wasn't funny. It was sad and cliched. It takes him so long to get to anything that somewhat resembles a purpose that I found myself drifting off to sleep then waking up to find that I really hadn't missed anything.
I am not one to give a bad rating. I've listened to some stinkers and have still given them at least 2 stars for the effort. But I can't do it for this one. It's a good for nothing book with a rotten narrator.
(I did like the references to St Louis, though. It seems like not much has changed since the 60's.)
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