Mr Toppit by Charles Elton
When the author of The Hayseed Chronicles, Arthur Hayman, is mown down by a concrete truck in Soho, his legacy passes to his widow, Martha, and her children - the fragile Rachel, and Luke, reluctantly immortalised as Luke Hayseed, the central character of his father's books. But others want their share, particularly Laurie, who has a mysterious agenda of her own that changes all their lives. For buried deep in the books lie secrets which threaten to be revealed as the family begins to crumble under the heavy burden of their inheritance.
This is such a strange little book, which I cannot say with certainty I enjoyed completely. I’ve been left feeling very confused, and mildly frustrated.
Elton tells of an author of children’s novels who passes away after an accident. We’re presented with the fallout’s impact on his family, and his posthumous rise to fame. The family are dysfunctional to say the least, and we see how the death of the patriarch affects the tumbling of subsequent events.
The plot follows a multiple voice narrative, which I welcomed originally, and yet became wildly irritated by. The sequences are jarring, disconnected, and strange, with most of the characters seeming utterly superfluous and, quite frankly, pointless.
There’s a lot of commentary on fame, and how the public and private lives of celebrity can collide. Elton’s presentation of Luke, who was immortalised in his father’s work, and his sister Rachel, who wasn’t, was worthy of deep contemplation after seeing both of their ultimate fates.
I’m still unsure how I feel, but I’d be loathe to recommend this to someone. Sold to me as a dark look into a fantasy novel having parallels with real life, what was actually portrayed was a deep dive into the life of a troubled family. A very strange book.