Category: John Mortimer

book review: Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer

‘All that does is make you fat, Rumpole.’
‘You’re telling me I’m fat?’ The thought hadn’t really occurred to me, but on the whole it was a fair enough description.
‘You’re on the way to becoming obese,’ she added.
‘is that a more serious way of saying I’m fat?’
‘It’s a very serious way of saying it. Why, the buttons will fly off your waistcoat like bullets. And I don’t believe you could run to catch a bus.’
“Not necessary. I go by Tube to the Temple Station.’

If you are looking for a bit of humour, tales that have an outcome that involves great insight into human character and heavy doses of coincidence and a bit of humbug then this is a great book to consume against the backdrop of tinsel and fairy lights.

This collection brings together a series of seven yuletide themed stories that have not been collected together like this before. Rumpole is the old but wise barrister who manages to win cases despite most of the legal establishment being against him. She who must be obeyed, his wife Hilda, provides light relief and bosses the old boy around when he is not in the Old Bailey.

Over the course of the stories Rumpole manages to get his clients off on lighter charges, solve a murder and spend one Christmas break with a judge he can’t stand.

There is some repetition that perhaps could have been edited out given that by the seventh story you know all about how the Rumpole’s spend Christmas and how Hilda gets lavender water each and every year. But once you get past that repetitive scene setting theses stories, which have a recent feel about them thanks to topical references to the internet etc, do take hold of you.

If you fancy buying a Christmas book at this time of year and are open to spending time with an aging and outwardly rude barrister who has a heart of gold and a flair for solving crimes and getting justice then this is a perfect choice.

Thoughts at the half way point of Rumpole at Christmas

Apart from the almost inevitable bit of Dickens at Christmas my reading at this time of year tends to be theme free. But having been sent the Rumpole at Christmas title it seemed like there is little time better than now, just days away from the 25th to have read.

I’ve not read a huge amount of Rumpole before but have got through enough to know his character and that of his legal colleagues. This collection has so far combined the best of Rumpole, the dry wit and ability for him to see things no one else around him has yet figured out, along with a good sprinkling of Christmas cheer.

Looking forward to spending the weekend getting through the rest of it. A review will follow soon….