I wasn’t expecting to like this book. I picked it up in part because Mollie, my writing tutor, suggested reading out of our comfort zone. The blurb on the back definitely suggested that it wasn’t my typical reading material.
It’s the story of Basil Peyton Crumbe, a man who enjoys all the traditional English country hobbies, but most especially shooting. He has killed 41000 birds by the time we meet him. Unfortunately for Basil, when he dies, he is somehow reincarnated as a pheasant.
The situations that he finds himself in thereafter are written with great humour, and there were several parts when I embarrassed myself a little, laughing loudly when on a train. It was a crowded carriage, and more than one person was startled into looking my way.
It is a well written novel, particularly the way that Kennaway is able to create something of a realism when he describes what the animals who live on Basil’s land think of him, and his fellow humans. They aren’t very appreciative of the humans’ physical appearance, but there is a underlying affection coming from the animals, well not really towards Basil, throughout the book.
Kennaway handles the dual transformation that Basil undergoes, with a deft hand, and I would be most interested to see if he manages to achieve a similar thing in his other books.