When Lionel Savage, a popular poet in Victorian London, learns from his butler that they're broke, he marries the beautiful Vivien Lancaster for her money, only to find that his muse has abandoned him. Read more...
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When Lionel Savage, a popular poet in Victorian London, learns from his butler that they're broke, he marries the beautiful Vivien Lancaster for her money, only to find that his muse has abandoned him.
Distraught and contemplating suicide, Savage accidentally conjures the Devil -- the polite "Gentleman" of the title -- who appears at one of the society parties Savage abhors. The two hit it off: the Devil talks about his home, where he employs Dante as a gardener; Savage lends him a volume of Tennyson. But when the party's over and Vivien has disappeared, the poet concludes in horror that he must have inadvertently sold his wife to the dark lord.
Newly in love with Vivien, Savage plans a rescue mission to Hell that includes Simmons, the butler; Tompkins, the bookseller; Ashley Lancaster, swashbuckling Buddhist; Will Kensington, inventor of a flying machine; and Savage's spirited kid sister, Lizzie, freshly booted from boarding school for a "dalliance." Throughout, his cousin's quibbling footnotes to the text push the story into comedy nirvana.
Lionel and his friends encounter trapdoors, duels, anarchist-fearing bobbies, the social pressure of not knowing enough about art history, and the poisonous wit of his poetical archenemy. Fresh, action-packed and very, very funny, The Gentleman is a giddy farce that recalls the masterful confections of P.G. Wodehouse and Herge's beautifully detailed Tintin adventures."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-06-06
- Reviewer: Staff
In this riotous send-up of Victorian literature and Victorian manners, Lionel Savage is a middling poet who runs out of money. To avoid penury, he enters into a loveless marriage with the wealthy Vivien Lancaster. But six months into the marriage, Lionel finds that the marriage has sapped his vital poetic spark. Then, at a masked party held by his wife, he meets the Gentleman, a stranger who ultimately reveals himself to be the “Dev’l.” The next day, Vivien is missing and Lionel realizes that he must have accidentally sold her to the Gentleman. To rescue her, Lionel recruits an intrepid band consisting of Simmons, his back-talking manservant; Ashley Lancaster, his brother-in-law, an explorer newly returned to London; Will Kensington, an inventor of flying machines; and his 16-year-old sister, Lizzie Savage, recently expelled from boarding school for having sex with the dean’s son. Pinpointing a volcano in Iceland as the entrance to hell, Lionel and company find it difficult to get out of London when they are mistaken for government spies, then anarchists, and are forced to flee from the police. Lionel is also challenged to no fewer than three duels on the way to a surprising ending. In his debut, Leo does an inspired job of parodying the conventions of Victorian fiction. Hilarious dialogue, a Pythonesque sense of the absurd, and comical complications worthy of Thorne Smith at his “dev’lish” best round out the tale. Agent: Mitchell Waters, Curtis Brown. (Aug.)