Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Uncle Silas

My Uncle Silas, by H. E. Bates

I've been on a little bit of a blogging break, I guess, and now I have at least eight books tell you about!  I'd better get started.

H. E. Bates is the same fellow who made a smash hit with his books about the Larkin family in The Darling Buds of May.  He wrote a couple of little vignettes based on an elderly uncle of his, a happily reprobate countryman who he called Uncle Silas.  Silas proved so popular that Bates wrote a whole bookful of short pieces about him.  Bates can describe him better than I can:
Certainly there was no strain of the Puritan in my Uncle Silas, who got gloriously and regularly drunk, loved food and the ladies and good company, was not afraid to wear a huge and flamboyant buttonhole, told lies, got the better of his fellow-men whenever the chance offered itself, used a scythe like an angel, was a wonderful gardener, took the local lord's pheasants, and yet succeeded in remaining an honest, genuine and lovable character.
Bates shows himself as a wide-eyed young boy, always willing to believe the tall tales Silas spins for his benefit.  They are great little pieces with wonderful feeling, and they are illustrated by probably the best possible artist for the job--Edward Ardizzone.  The stories were so popular that Bates eventually produced another volume, called Sugar for the Horse.  They might be harder to find, but I'd quite like to read them sometime.

When I went looking for book cover images, I found out that there was--of course--a TV series based on these stories. Albert Finney played Uncle Silas.  Is there anything in British literature the BBC has not adapted to television?  Just wondering.

2 comments:

cleopatra said...

Eight books! You certainly made good use of the Read-A-Thon! Do you usually review all the books you read?

Jean said...

Yes, eventually, mostly. I don't really bother to review all the fluffy mysteries anymore. :)