THE 27TH KINGDOM.

Ellis, Alice Thomas.

ISBN 10: 0715616455 / ISBN 13: 9780715616451
Published by London: Duckworth & Co., (1982) dj, 1982
Hardcover
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SIGNED hardcover first edition - First printing. The third novel by this highly praised English author, this was short-listed for the Booker Prize. "Set in London in 1954, it follows the adventures of Aunt Irene and her nephew Kyril when Valentine, a postulant at the convent where IreneÕs sister is the reverend mother, comes to stay with them, ostensibly to test her vocation in the world. . . . Valentine is very much an outsider: black, Caribbean, quiet, and devoutly religious. The injection of this alien into Aunt IreneÕs Chelsea home becomes the catalyst for many comic situations. , , [but] cutting through the mirth are grotesque, even macabre elements, including accidental deaths and suicide" (Marian Crowe).SIGNED on the title page. Ellis, the wife of the publisher Colin Haycraft, and the fiction editor at Duckworth, was both a true Bohemian and a fiercely devout Catholic. 159 pp Fine in fine dust jacket. Uncommon signed. Bookseller Inventory # 58654

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Bibliographic Details

Title: THE 27TH KINGDOM.

Publisher: London: Duckworth & Co., (1982) dj

Publication Date: 1982

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

The 27th Kingdom

Review:

The 27th Kingdom is as mystical as it is malicious, a dark, surreal comedy about secrecy and self-deception. Chelsea, circa 1954, has its fair share of chatty bohemians, and Dancing Master House is positively overflowing with them. Its principal inhabitants are Aunt Irene, who fancies herself a "patron of the astonishing" and has a great fondness for horsemeat, and her vile nephew. Kyril is annoyingly handsome and has an entirely bad character. When a beautiful, black, and almost entirely silent postulant arrives for a brief stay, she quietly throws a theological spanner into the works--exposing and yet somehow protecting the two, and several other Londoners, from their worldly problems. Valentine doesn't so much need to test her vocation as to quell her miracle-working tendencies. At least according to the Mother Superior of her Welsh convent, who happens to be Aunt Irene's sister. Can this "vivid and alien" being, however, save Aunt Irene from a showdown with the taxman (who may be someone else entirely)? In the meantime, will Kyril manage to seduce her? And will Focus, the house's pillowy Persian, ever get near the rat that's been taunting him? Pleasingly, this pussycat has more insight than most of Ellis's humans, particularly when it comes to Aunt Irene's human kitten:

He'd morosely witnessed Kyril's numberless conquests, comparing him with the neighbourhood's dominant tom, a scratty looking object who stalked Cheyne Row. Focus had been made a eunuch for the sake of the sweetness of the air in Dancing Master House. He was glad, because it enabled him to take a removed and measured view of affairs--human, feline and, indeed, divine.
As she moves among her main characters, and as things go from mad to worse, Ellis constructs a fractured fable of good and evil. Not that she's interested in whacking us over the head. After all, as Aunt Irene's sister puts it: "How the vulgar loved portents, prodigies and the untoward. Only the religious knew how embarrassing they could be--and quite beside the point." This 1982 novel may not be as elegant as some of Ellis's other books. On the other hand, it's hard to resist a knowing, noisy exploration of the perfections of silence and the mysteries of belief. --Kerry Fried

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