Posted by: Kirsty | January 7, 2009

The Diary of a Nobody – George & Weedon Grossmith (1892)

charles_and_lupin_pooterThe Diary of a Nobody is one of those books which I’ve had for ages. I read half of it ages ago then for some reason or another put it down and never got around to picking it up again. I don’t know about you, but I do find it difficult to pick up half-read books. I always have to go back to the beginning because I’m often hopeless at remembering what happened.

Anyway, last year I decided that I should invest in more unabridged audio books. I don’t drive a huge amount, but when I do it tends to be relatively long journeys of perhaps at least an hour each way, so I would have ample opportunity to listen to quite a lot without feeling like I had to break off all the time. My first purchase was the unabridged version of The Diary of a Nobody, read by Martin Jarvis, and I finished listening to it on Monday night as I drove home from London. I loved it.

The novel is, as most people surely know, the fictional diary of Charles Pooter. He’s a pompous old sod who bumbles from one calamity to the next, whether it being the red enamel paint on the bath coming off all over him, or losing £18 on a tip which his fashionable son Lupin sets him up to. He makes terrible jokes, is devoted to his boss Mr. Perkup, and hopes above all else for a good ‘position’ for his (as he thinks) wayward son. He believes in propriety and duty and doing what’s right. He generally takes himself terribly seriously, even when no one else does.

It’s a genuinely funny book, and despite Pooter being an old fool, I felt rather an affection for him by the end. Martin Jarvis was an excellent reader, and I would be equally interested in seeing the adaptation BBC 4 did in 2007 with Hugh Bonneville as Pooter. Must check if it’s on DVD…

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Responses

  1. And of course it contains one of the best lines in literature: “I left the room with silent dignity, but caught my foot on the mat.”

  2. I’ve had this for ages too, and always found something ‘better’ to read … After your review though I think it might be next on the list! Thanks for giving this a leg up on the To Be Read Pile Kitty!

  3. Catherine – yes! That was a definite laugh-out-loud moment. I also loved the bit about him not being a rich man, but would pay to find out who had sent him an insulting Christmas card.

    Lindsey – enjoy! It’s really very, very funny.

  4. oooh – I have also been meaning to read this for ages. I have a horrid £1 copy which isn’t very inviting – I might see about finding a nicer copy to read although I’m very taken with the idea of martin jarvis audiobook. I never know how I feel about audiobooks – i do loads of commuting so could listen to those but it never feels like “reading” a book so I always feel a bit of a fraud… (It might just be me that feels wierd about this though!)

  5. Lara, I wondered whether audio books counted too, but have decided that unabridged ones do. I’ve just listened to every word instead of having read every word.

  6. haha wow i saw your post title and just had to click! I have this book! One day I was browsing the old books for sale rack at my school’s library, and I picked it up cuz i was struck by the cover design and title. I love nobodies! haha… ( i don’t know about ur cover, but mine is this really old, victorian looking design). I’ve read parts, but not all of it.

  7. It’s been ages since I read this, maybe it’s time for a revisit.

    Haven’t seen the BBC adaptation, but I daresay Hugh Bonneville was perfect for the part!

  8. I agree unabridged seems like a good way forward. I’m going to investigate Itunes – this could be amazing for the evil commute!


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