“Don’t let them get the flat Bertie!”
For in this day and age, holding onto your London council flat after one’s lease holding mother has just departed this world is of utmost importance. And Bertie knows that. That’s why he invites Inna Alfandari, A.K.A, random old lady, to come and live with him and pose as his mother until he can get this mess straightened out.
But then there’s other things going on too. Firstly there’s violet. The "Goddess" who has just moved in next door. Could Bertie woo her? Find love in the arms of this angel? Or does Violet have issues of her own to deal with?
Then there’s the trees. The cherry orchard in front of the housing estate is at risk of being “Re-Purposed” by the fat cats who only see in dollar signs. Will the strays of the world who, like Bertie have found themselves living at Madeley Court, band together and fight the man? Or is that kind of power reserved for those who can pay for it?
As usual, Lewycka delivers a knockout of a book, complete with relatable characters, sassy dialogue and brutal honesty about surviving life in this tactile modern world.
At first it comes across as a slow starter; Former actor Bertie is hard to warm to. His self-obsessive behaviour reads thick and heavy at first but is gratefully interspersed with the story of conscientious, selfless, Violet. The two work in tandem together, levelling each other out.
By midway through Bertie and all of his quirks and hang-ups become dear and even hilarious. As do the many characters of Madeley Court.
I have read all of Marina Lewycka’s books and to date I cannot pick a favourite. All of them, like The Lubetkin Legacy are great; thick with moral standing and human decency.
A little reminder to be kind when you can.