Far from London's crime and pollution, Hanmouth's wealthier residents live in picturesque, heavily mortgaged cottages in the center of a town packed with artisanal cheese shops and antiques stores. They're reminded of the town's less desirable outskirtswith their grim, flimsy housing stock and chain storesonly when their neighbors have the presumption to claim also to live in Hanmouth.
When an eight-year-old girl from the outer area goes missing, England's eyes suddenly turn toward the sleepy town with a curiosity as piercing and unblinking as the closed-circuit security cameras that line Hanmouth's idyllic streets. But somehow these cameras have missed the abduction of the girl, whose name is China. Is her blank-eyed hairdresser mother hiding her as part of a moneymaking hoax? Has she been abducted by one of the lurking perverts the townspeople imagine the cameras are protecting them from? Perhaps more cameras are needed?
As it turns out, more than one resident of Hanmouth has a secret hidden behind closed doors. There's Sam and Harry, the cheesemonger and aristocrat who lead the county's gay orgies. The quiet husband of postcolonial theorist Miranda (everyone agrees she's marvelous) keeps a male lover, while their daughter disembowels dolls she's named Child Pornography and Slightly Jewish. Moral crusader John Calvin's Neighborhood Watch has an unusual reason for holding its meetings in secret. And, of course, somewhere out there is the house where little China is hidden.
With the dark hilarity and unflinching honesty of a modern-day Middlemarch, King of the Badgers demolishes the already fragile privacy of Hanmouth's inhabitants. These characters, exquisitely drawn and rawly human, proclaim Philip Hensher's status as an extraordinary chronicler of the domestic, and one of the world's most dazzling and ambitious novelists.
|Publisher:||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Philip Hensher is a columnist for The Independent, arts critic for the Spectator, and a Granta Best of Young British novelist. He has written seven novels, including The Mulberry Empire, King of the Badgers and the Booker-shortlisted TheNorthern Clemency, and one collection of short stories. He lives in South London and Geneva.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved the town & most of the people. There were a few stories I would have liked to have read a little more of. China??? Some books, as I'm reading, I will skim some of the more "wordy" parts. Not this one. All in all an enjoyable read.
This is a sprawling epic novel centred around a North Devon village. It is a real page-turner, which reveals the surprising lives of many different characters and the connections - or disconnects - between them. We meet many different characters as the novel unfolds, from the family on the nearby council estate whose daughter disappears, to the retired couple newly-arrived from St Albans and desperate to make friends. There is a real sense of place and of time; you can believe in the independent high street with its local cheese shop, and the abstract art gallery run by a hedge-fund trader; there is also of course a Tesco supermarket just outside the town. There are themes woven in with a light touch - notably privacy, surveillance and the nature of community. Overall, I found this an enjoyable and compelling read.