Book review: The Luck of a Countryman by Max Hardcastle
They’re a different breed in Yorkshire ... ask Max Hardcastle!
Born and raised in God’s Own Country, Hardcastle knows that the county is home to some of the quirkiest folk on these shores, and he has a tale or two to tell about their strange goings-on.
The Luck of a Countryman is the second instalment of his hilarious and hair-raising adventures as an antiques dealer in a remote village in the Yorkshire Dales. Favourite characters reappear in new – and sometimes alarming – situations, and a host of new personalities join in the ups and downs of country life.
The madcap exploits of Ramsthwaite’s eccentric inhabitants won thousands of hearts in A Countryman’s Lot, the first of Hardcastle’s delightful Tales from the Dales, and now the lovable villagers are back for another round of fun and frolics.
When inveterate hoarder Hardcastle moved out of a cramped city centre antiques shop and its overflowing upstairs flat and relocated to a smallholding in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, nothing prepared him, his wife Vicky and their two children, Sally and Peter, for the varied and endlessly entertaining nature of village life.
But it’s not all plain sailing in Ramsthwaite; in winter, the doorbell of the antiques shop rarely rings and those that do visit are usually ‘carpet dirtiers’ – well-dressed, middle-aged couples who browse through the stock and leave without buying anything.
House clearances are also in short supply because ‘folk don’t die fast enough’ in these parts ... ‘must be the air’ says a bemused Max.
Of course, there are lighter moments for the Hardcastles, like sifting through the effects of the late magician Fantastic Frederico whose best trick, still unfathomed, was getting an egg inside a balloon and discovering that the sale has sparked a war between rival magicians.
Travelling butcher Thievin’ Jack also causes a stir when his van has to be rescued from the middle of the village pond, and not-so-young Baz is finally marrying his sweetheart Susan Denholm and trying to shield his prospective in-laws from his smelly bachelor den full of ‘sunken chairs and holey rugs.’
The Hardcastles join in wholeheartedly with the trials and triumphs that beset the peaceful village and even Peter and Sally are developing a dealer’s eye as they help to rummage amongst potential sale stock.
All in all, rural living isn’t quite as tranquil as they’d all imagined!
Wistful, wise, funny and observant, The Luck of a Countryman serves up large helpings of Yorkshire wit and a brilliant brand of irony that is the hallmark of true British humour.
The perfect Christmas gift for countrymen far and wide...
(Sphere, paperback, £7.99)