According to Arnold: A Novel of Love and Mushrooms by Giles Milton
|According to Arnold: A Novel of Love and Mushrooms by Giles Milton|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Katie Pullen|
|Summary: A quirky, fun and often hilarious tale of how one man’s passion for mushrooms leads him to become king of a remote South Pacific island and the centre of a major conspiracy. An imaginative and unique read, perfect if you want something just a little bit different.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: May 2010|
Arnold Trevellyan’s ordinary life as a charismatic auctioneer is about to change in ways he could never have imagined. Encouraged by his wife Flora to take a sabbatical, the two head to a remote region of France to indulge Arnold’s passion for mushrooms. Whilst out in the forest hunting for rare mushrooms Arnold stumbles across a secret hidden for centuries. This secret makes him abandon Flora and their life together for the island of Tuva in the South Pacific where he soon finds himself married to Lola, its queen.
Back in England, Peter Rushton, Arnold’s best friend, starts to receive cassettes from Arnold describing his new life as King of Tuva and soon shares these with Tobias Edwardes, a journalist intrigued by Arnold’s story. But Arnold’s new life as king of Tuva is not as perfect as it first appears as he slowly reveals he is caught up in a worldwide conspiracy in which both he and his passion for mushrooms play a major part.
‘’According to Arnold’’ is probably one of the most weird and wonderful books I have come across in recent times. A novel centred around mushrooms seemed a little odd and I thought how on earth is Giles Milton going to get mileage out of this? However, their part in the novel is fascinating, intriguing and highly plausible. As well as their important role in Arnold’s present, Milton gives us a few history lessons on mushrooms along the way, particularly the rare Caesar mushroom, and these in themselves were interesting and fun. His descriptions of a variety of weird and rare mushrooms are strong and you really can almost smell and taste them – not completely desirable if you hate mushrooms like me, but oh well.
As Arnold tells his tales of mushrooms, his new life on the lush and verdant island of Tuva, and the conspiracy surrounding him you can tell Milton has a major interest in history. He weaves into Arnold’s story some well-known historical events with wonderfully rewritten endings that seem very plausible and certainly made me wonder. Poor Peter and Tobias are left wondering too, finding what they hear both hilarious and preposterous, but both fear there is an element of truth to it all.
Arnold’s story itself is wonderfully surreal in places, and is extremely absorbing and amusing to read. Arnold though is a slightly strange, even unlikeable character in that he seems to have no qualms about leaving his wife, whom he seems devoted to, for the much younger and gorgeous Lola. He allows himself to be swept along by his new life without question at times which was a little frustrating but of course became more understandable when he reveals more and more in his recordings.
In case you hadn’t guessed by now I really enjoyed this book. As well as the brilliant and at times surreal plot, Milton’s writing is first class, clever and witty, and he clearly has a very vivid imagination. He keeps his cast of characters to a minimum, which allows the wonderfully elaborate plot to take centre stage, as it clearly should in this unique, funny and very fulfilling read. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
I’d like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further Reading Suggestion: If you like the sound of this book, you may also enjoy the Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.
Giles Milton was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy According to Arnold: A Novel of Love and Mushrooms by Giles Milton at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy According to Arnold: A Novel of Love and Mushrooms by Giles Milton at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.