19 September 2012

What's in a Name challenge review: The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates



My fourth What's in a Name challenge book was this delightful short novel, the first in a series of (I think) 5 books that have also been used as the basis for a television series. The challenge category is # 6, the something you'd find on a calendar, that of course being the month of May.

Cedric Carlton, a clerk from the Internal Revenue office arrives at the Larkin family farm to find out why Pa Larkin hasn't filed his taxes. He meets the Larkins' oldest daughter, Mariette, and falls in love with her at first sight, which comes in useful for Pa, who clearly has no intention to pay his taxes and uses Cedric's infatuation with Mariette to dodge all questions about the matter. Cedric, renamed Charley by Pa, quickly forgets why he came and takes sick leave in order to stay with the family and be near Mariette, who seems quite interested in him too.

This is one of those lovely novels in which a formula as old as literature is used to good effect to tell an entertaining, occasionally funny and heart-warming story. The characters are more or less stock, to be sure, but they are fleshed out sufficiently to give them enough dimension to function well in this plot-driven novel about two different worlds colliding with interesting results. 4 stars.

P.S. Check out the TV series, starring, among others, Catherine Zeta Jones.

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