Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Sunday Book: Mr Chartwell - Rebecca Hunt

This is more like it. It feels like it has been a while since I've read something that has really inspired me or tickled my imagination. I've read things that I have enjoyed and things that have been good and beautiful but nothing that has excited me. The spark has been missing, if you know what I mean. But don't panic, it is back and it is oh so sparkly. Mr Chartwell is quite a short book (216 pages) but it crams a lot of interesting stuff in there and it is glittery sparkly all the way through. Apparently the original proposal/manuscript by artist and first time writer Rebecca Hunt sparked a bidding war between publishers and I'm not surprised.

How to explain... Mr Chartwell is a big, black dog. An enormous, bigger than a man, walks on his hind legs and talks, big, black dog. He is funny and persuasive and strangely seductive but also rough and domineering and slightly dangerous. He is Esther Hammerhans' new lodger, staying with her while 'work' takes him to Chartwell, the (Kent - woop!) home of Winston Churchill. It is the summer of 1964, Churchill is retiring from the Cabinet and Esther is recently widowed, both are vulnerable and Mr Chartwell, or Black Pat as he sometimes goes by, is drawing them together.

Churchill suffered throughout his life from recurrent depression which he termed his 'black dog'. That would be Mr Chartwell. Hunt has written a fascinating, sensitive, original, captivating, comic, tragic book about depression. Black Pat is everything he should be. You are drawn to him while you fear for Esther. Churchill is stubborn in the face of his disease; brave and admirable. The story takes place over only about a week but it is gripping and you become involved with all the characters. It is a bit bite-sized but it makes me excited about Hunt's future books and about contemporary fiction in general.

Try and grab a copy - it really is a great new book.

Chuck x


  1. i just added this to my wishlist on amazon. sadly the cover of the US edition isn't nearly as awesome. i mean, it's okay - but this one is really great.

  2. Ce blog est toujours aussi intéressant! J'ADORE!!!!
    Les photos et les looks sont magnifiques!
    Mélanie (pour les amoureuses de vintage :