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Description - My Uncle Silas by H. E. Bates

The deeds and misdeeds of Uncle Silas, the rural reprobate, were renowned in the short stories H E Bates published in the 1930s. In this collection, the stories are presented in full, accompanied by the original drawings by Edward Ardizzone that perfectly capture the little reed-thatched house atop a violet-banked lane. Over the course of ninety-five years, Uncle Silas found the time to do most things: he boasted of the villains he had knocked to kingdom come as he boasted of the women whose hearts he had truly captured. Crotchety, vainglorious, occasionally wicked, he maintained a devilish spark of audacity which made him so attractive to everyone he met.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099421979
ISBN-10: 0099421976
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 11mm)
Pages: 192
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-Sep-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - My Uncle Silas by H. E. Bates

US Kirkus Review » Published in England in 1939, but never before in the US, these 14 small tales offer sly, affectionate glimpses of the narrator's great-uncle Silas - a rural oldster of the earthy, boozy, incorrigible school. "In a voice at once dreamy, devilish, innocent, mysterious and triumphant," 93-year-old Silas recalls his more youthful days of poaching and wooing. In "The Revelation," the narrator watches old Silas being given a bath by his surly, longtime housekeeper - and realizes for the first time that their relationship is (or at least Once was) intensely romantic. Elsewhere, Silas chortles over tall-tales of his Casanova days, trying to out-lie his dandyish, equally ancient brother-in-law Cosmo. (In one anecdote, Silas hides from a jealous husband in a cellar for days, eating "stewed nails" to keep from starving to death.) There are nostalgic vignettes of roof-thatching, pig-wrestling, and grave-digging - plus, in "A Happy Man," a somewhat more serious sketch of Silas' old chum Walter, an outwardly cheerful ex-soldier who eventually succumbs (with traumatic memories of 1880s Asian campaigns) to madness. And, inevitably, "The Death of Uncle Silas" arrives at the close - though, even on his deathbed, Silas is sneaking snorts of wine . . . while, in an epilogue, the narrator shows that he's inherited a wee bit of his great-uncle's mischief. Modestly amusing, with lyrical/wistful touches to soften the near-buffoonery: minor but attractive work from novelist/storyteller Bates (19051974), best known in recent years as the source of the PBS series "Love for Lydia." (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - H. E. Bates

H. E. Bates was born in Northamptonshire in 1905. He published his first novel, The Two Sisters, when he was twenty, and for the next decade built up a reputation as a writer of great versatility. During the Second World War Bates was commissioned by the RAF as a short story writer, where he wrote the acclaimed How Sleep the Brave and The Greatest People in the World. His most popular creation was the effervescent Larkin family about whom he wrote five novels including The Darling Buds of May and A Little of What You Fancy. In 1973 H. E. Bates was awarded the C.B.E. He died in 1974.

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