The Welcoming Committee
By (author) Imogen De la Bere
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Welcoming Committee by Imogen De la Bere
Book DescriptionA twentieth-century Faust, musician turned wine merchant, Crawford Hollander has done well from his deal with the devil. Successful, charming, surrounded by a circle of adoring women, he has cajoled, manipulated and cheated his way to riches. But Crawford has also accumulated enemies. On his return to his native New Zealand, three men are waiting for him. They have formed the Welcoming Committee, and have prepared a very special form of revenge - Crawford is the most complex and most magnificent of Imogen de la Bere's villains, and the novel through which he struts is her best yet - gripping, funny and deliciously tolerant of human frailty.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780099440857
(198mm x 129mm x 18mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 7-Aug-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
UK Kirkus Review » Crawford Holland feeds on wine, women and song. With a highly successful wine-trading business and a coterie of women ready to grace him with their company, as well as a remarkably tolerant wife, he seems to have it all. However, the opening scene of the novel, a performance of an opera by his beloved Berlioz, gives the first clue to his real character: he's a modern-day Faust who has connived and manipulated his way to the top, using his apparently irresistible charms to exploit all those who may be useful to him and ruthlessly casting aside those who are not. His pact with the devil is made at the age of 16 when he persuades his aged and alcoholic brother-in-law to put up the money and obtain the all-important liquor licence necessary to start his career as a wine merchant, only to discard him at 21 when the venture is a success and he is old enough to hold his own licence. Meanwhile, it is not just his business life which is flourishing; he is not slow to learn the art of seduction and has women of all ages falling at his feet. Holland's exploitation of those around him continues over several years, making him many enemies along the way, and it is three of these who decide to take retribution, forming the welcoming committee which will greet him - and ultimately bring him down - at a lavish party thrown in his honour. With a cast of likeable characters, the glamour of the wine trade and a seemingly idyllic setting on the coast of New Zealand, this novel makes for an enjoyable read. It is, however, slow to get started and although de la Bere successfully creates a sense of expectation in the reader as the climax approaches, when Holland does eventually receive his comeuppance, it is disappointingly tame. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » New Zealand author de la Bere (The Last Deception of Palliser Wentwood, 1999, etc.) gives a piquant twist to the Welcome Home Party. Middle-aged Crawford Hollander, wealthy wine merchant, considers himself a success. Though a native New Zealander, he's lived in England for years, where he's acquired a plummy English accent, a well-born wife, and a country house designed by Lutyens. He's rich and has a coterie of admiring women who are delighted to accompany him to events his wife Genista would prefer to miss. But his perfect life, so carefully created, begins to crumble when, annoyed by a production of Faust, he abandons his wife and leaves the opera house and then, when ready to go home, discovers he's been locked out of the house. And though he finds a bed with young New Zealander Mercy Fisher, whose mortgage he pays in return for a number of services rendered, he's uncharacteristically shaken by the evening's events. It's soon clear that Crawford, who's planning a celebratory visit back to New Zealand-he has a birthday coming up that can be conveniently combined with some business-is not quite the charming and considerate aesthete he appears to be. He cheated his brother-in-law, the Commander, out of his savings; destroyed his sister Rosalia's marriage; raped Mercy when she was a schoolgirl, then insisted she have the abortion that made her sterile; falsely acquired a vineyard from a struggling couple just as they were about to succeed; and blackmailed Wolf, a brilliant vintner. Now, however, a certain three men (a.k.a. The Welcoming Committee) have their own plans for the return of this successful native son. It's payback time, and the three do it with style-black-tie and string quartet-as Crawford gets the welcome he really deserves, justice finally served. Conceptually cute, but sluggish in the telling. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Imogen De la Bere
Imogen de la Bere is the author of two novels, The Last Deception of Palliser Wentwood, which was shortlisted for the David Higham Prize, and The Understanding of Jenner Ransfield. She divides her time between England and New Zealand.
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