My Uncle Silas

My Uncle Silas

4.03 (95 ratings by Goodreads)
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Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 140 x 200mm
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • Ill.
  • 0192818546
  • 9780192818546

Review Text

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)show more

Rating details

95 ratings
4.03 out of 5 stars
5 32% (30)
4 42% (40)
3 24% (23)
2 2% (2)
1 0% (0)
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