by Michael Innes
originally published in 1981
Charles Honeybath visits a stately mansion – and discovers some decidedly odd activities
When Honeybath travels to Mullion Castle to paint a portrait of Lady Mullion (the wife of an old school friend), he finds himself in the midst of a delightfully eccentric family – and some rather intriguing puzzles. Who, for example, has removed the valuable miniature portrait of Lord Mullion’s ancestor – and why? Can it be connected in any way to the recent appearance of some long-forgotten sketches drawn by Lord Mullion’s dotty Great-anut Camilla? And just how does the handsome young gardener (a bit more ambitious than his station seems to warrant) fit into the mysterious happenings?
Honeybath addresses himself to these and other teasing problems in this witty, engaging, and surprising tale of aristocratic idiosyncrasies and secrets that only Michael Innes could have conceived.
Enjoyed this immensely! No murder, just an intriguing and captivating mystery or series of small mysteries adding up to the great reveal! Full of fun quirky people. Honeybath is a wonderful character and I’d love to read more featuring him.
He is a portrait painter and thus there is much mentioning of artist, real ones that were fun to look up. Most interesting, we are introduced to a diarist from the late 1800’s who Honeybath considers a landscape artist as his diary paints such a lovely landscape with words…
‘After the rain it was a flawless late afternoon to which the earlier downpour had lent the enchantment of a sparkle of moisture scattered like Constable’s snow over the scene. Francis Kilvert, he felt, that superb landscape-painter manqué, might have done justice to it in his incomparable diary. Many of Kilvert’s favorite effects were on view: in the distance bluish hills; nearer at hand the shadows of great trees elongating themselves on the grass; numerous contented kine; here and there less numerous rustics making their unassuming way home after the labors of the day; the glint and murmur of a half-hidden stream. Presently would come still Evening on, and Twilight gray would in her sober livery all things clothe. All in all, it was a peaceful scene, admirable adapted to mild literary musings of this sort.’
Seems Kilvert‘s diaries were printed in part and a BBC TV series made of them in the 1970’s. He sounds like a fascinating man, a vicar who loved swim and sunbathe in the nude! He died of peritonitis very young at the age of 38, just a few days after returning from his honeymoon. I found used copies of one of the diaries at Amazon! Go HERE if your interesting in getting a copy. If you want to read more on him you can visit The Kilvert Society.
Another interesting person named was an old French comedian, Little Titch. I found a video of him performing! And an author I have not heard of, Ivy Compton-Burnett. An English novelist, she wrote from 1911-1963. I’d love to read one of her books. One of the painters he mentions in the above excerpt, John Constable, was a landscape artist and you can see some of his painting HERE. They are lovely!
This book counts toward Bev’s Vintage Covers Scavenger Hunt for the Silver Era – Spider Web. that makes 8!