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The Cuckoos of Batch Magna Peter Maughan Sir Humphrey Miles Pinkerton, Squire of Batch Magna gives his rotting estate to a distant relative Humph An American Humph decides to make a huge profit by changing the backwater of Batch Magna into a theme park image of rural England He envisions a vacation paradise for US millionaires But the pensioners tenants have other plans, they refuse to cooperate.Add to the mix of quirky characters, pulp crime writer Phineas Cook and Lt Commander James C The Cuckoos of Batch Magna Peter Maughan Sir Humphrey Miles Pinkerton, Squire of Batch Magna gives his rotting estate to a distant relative Humph An American Humph decides to make a huge profit by changing the backwater of Batch Magna into a theme park image of rural England He envisions a vacation paradise for US millionaires But the pensioners tenants have other plans, they refuse to cooperate.Add to the mix of quirky characters, pulp crime writer Phineas Cook and Lt Commander James Cunningham they are determined to take on Hump and fight for what they feel is theirs.A fun read I really enjoyed the vivid detail that transported me to the border of Welsh territory I look forward towork by Peter Maughan What a fun read, completely charming and gentle with plenty of silly situations and laughs to go around I m going to like this humorous series a lot. I enjoyed The Cuckoos Of Batch Magna It is very well written, engaging and amusing.The basic story is pretty well worn a secluded rural idyll populated by a colourful group of often eccentric people, has its way of life threatened by an incomer bent on changing everything with a view to profit and progress In this case, it s Batch Magna, a small village on the Welsh border in Shropshire, whose de facto squire dies and the entailment of the estate means that it passes to a rather hapless New I enjoyed The Cuckoos Of Batch Magna It is very well written, engaging and amusing.The basic story is pretty well worn a secluded rural idyll populated by a colourful group of often eccentric people, has its way of life threatened by an incomer bent on changing everything with a view to profit and progress In this case, it s Batch Magna, a small village on the Welsh border in Shropshire, whose de facto squire dies and the entailment of the estate means that it passes to a rather hapless New Yorker who gradually of course falls under the spell of the place and its people It sounds corny, and it is in a way, but Peter Maughan is a good enough writer to make this a very engaging, enjoyable book It is steeped in rich, loving descriptions of the place, its way of life while his characters are very well painted and surprisingly recognisable and there is a very nice leaven of dry humour There are moments of farce, some charming romances and a general atmosphere which is very endearing Maughan is unafraid to confound expectations occasionally and there are some genuinely touching moments, all of which gives the book a fresh feel I have to say that so little actually happens in the first half of the book that I began to get a bit restive, but things pick up wonderfully in the second half, which I loved.I found this a very enjoyable read in the end Whether the idea can maintain a series remains to be seen, but I ll certainly read the next one to find out Recommended My thanks to Farrago for an ARC via NetGalley One should know by now to abandon expectations when reading a book one knows littleabout, but one is oft times an idiot My mistake when reading The Cuckoos of Batch Magna is that I had P.G Wodehouse in mind and kept looking for similarities when I should have just enjoyed the gentle ride down a river author Peter Maughan intended.You see I was recently reminded of Wodehouse s If I Were You, where the Earl of Droitwich discovers he really isn t the rightful heir, having been switched at birth w One should know by now to abandon expectations when reading a book one knows littleabout, but one is oft times an idiot My mistake when reading The Cuckoos of Batch Magna is that I had P.G Wodehouse in mind and kept looking for similarities when I should have just enjoyed the gentle ride down a river author Peter Maughan intended.You see I was recently reminded of Wodehouse s If I Were You, where the Earl of Droitwich discovers he really isn t the rightful heir, having been switched at birth with the true earl, who has grown up to be a socialist barber The faux earl uses the opportunity to escape marriage to that sort of imperious woman Wodehouse so often imagines and it all works out all right in the end.Peter Maughan s book involves Sir Humphrey Strange or Humph as he asks everyone to call him a poor relation of the previous baronet, General Sir Humphrey Myles Pinkerton Strange, whose death leaves Humph in possession of Batch Hall, the crumbling ancestral home of the Stranges But Humph is burdened with death duties, the cost of fixing up the hall and the question of what to do with the tenant farmers and the renters of the no longer functional paddle steamboats on the river that runs through Batch Magna.It doesn t help that Humph is an unsuccessful American businessman whose only qualification to be a baronet is the circumstance of his being related to the late general, and that Humph feels he has to live up to the reputation of his successful but long dead father In addition to that baggage, Humph has been persuaded to believe he must evict the paddle boat tenants and turn Batch Hall into a quaint hotel.The strange collection of paddle boat residents include the retired naval commander who s searching for Atlantis earth mother Jasmine and her large family the Owens, including river savvy father Owen, his wife Annie who took care of the general, and their nubile daughter Ffion and crime novel writer Phineas Cook They live on four paddle boats, remnants of the Cluny Steamboat Company, which the general s father brought to the town that straddles the Welsh English border.Of course the steamboat residents like their idyllic life on the river They ve formed a community of oddballs and are so reluctant to move they even contemplate finding an ingenious way for Humph to meet an untimely death Meanwhile Humph, free of the distractions of his life in America, falls in love with the people, the land and the river He also drifts from his dedication to his fianc e, an imperious sort of woman who only wants to marry Humph so she can be called Lady Sylvia H m, maybe there is some similarity to Wodehouse here.The writing style is completely different, of course Wodehouse plots are meticulous and seemingly fast paced a weekend at a country house , although an objective observer might say not much really happens Maughan s style is leisurely and an objective observer might say not much really happens If you ve ever taken an English river cruise or traveled in a narrowboat, you ll recognize Maughan s style The journey is its own reward and you won t enjoy it if you try to speed it up.I m afraid that s what I was guilty of, at first I read a little too fast and didn t take the time to let my fingers hang off the side of the boat and trail through the water The plot is also like a water journey it might twist and turn a little but you will predictably arrive at your destination There is no great surprise here you just wonder whether Maughan will resolve the conflict through a deus ex machina or whether he had earlier sown the elements of that resolution previously.No, the pleasure of this book is the charmingly askew characters and the real sense that Maughan s fictional community really should exist somehow The author has crafted a nice group of eccentrics with a good balance of agendas the boat residents initially despise Humph the shop owners welcome Humph s initial plan of evicting the river dwellers and turning the Hall into a tourist destination the general s granddaughter unable to inherit because the land is entailed a la Jane Austen and Downton Abbey treats Humph civilly but coldly and those who don t know who Humph is treat him warmly The easy acceptance of Humph is ultimately the deciding factor that makes sure it all works out in the end.It also helps that the setting is a little out of time and place You begin to realize there are no mentions of smart phones or computers and I think it helps tie the book to a lot of British TV and film from the 1970s and 80s You can t help but think of Local Hero and To the Manor Born In fact many readers have suggested The Cuckoos of Batch Magna would make a great TV series, something I m sure author Maughan, an ex actor and script writer, has already considered Fortunately, Maughan has written a sequel, Sir Humphrey of Batch Magna, that would drive a season or series two.So if you haven t already guessed, I m heartily recommending this book to anyone who has the patience to enjoy it Forget about my mistaken comparison to Wodehouse It s only resemblance is that it s English when it isn t Welsh , there are finely drawn characters and objectively not a lot happens But where s the fun in being objective To enter the world of Batch Magna is to lose oneself in a parallel universe where most people are fundamentally decent and kind, despite being as kooky and crazy as coots Peter Maughan has created some endearing and charismatic characters who take on so much life and substance that you find yourself wondering what they are doing while they are off stage, and missing them when the last page is read fortunately, there is a sequel.The story revolves around the eccentric lives of the people who l To enter the world of Batch Magna is to lose oneself in a parallel universe where most people are fundamentally decent and kind, despite being as kooky and crazy as coots Peter Maughan has created some endearing and charismatic characters who take on so much life and substance that you find yourself wondering what they are doing while they are off stage, and missing them when the last page is read fortunately, there is a sequel.The story revolves around the eccentric lives of the people who live on four moored paddle steamers in the Welsh Marches, along the border between England and Wales, their daily reality suspended in a timeless Peter Pan like haze as unsubstantial as the mists rising from the river When the old General, the squire of Batch Hall, dies without male issue, the line of succession leapfrogs to a distant American relative whose development plans for the place throw everything into disarray and effectively shatter the idyllic spell the paddler water gypsies have been enjoying without a thought for any other future The sense of place is so strong and it looms so large in the consciousness of the characters that it becomes a major player in the narrative The river people of Batch Magna are not saints, they all have their human quirks and idiosyncrasies, they feel pain and outrage and dream of revenge, but there is an underlying decency that is as reassuring as their eccentricities are amusing.The writing is, in turns, lyrical, evocative, ironic, sardonic and borderline cynical, but always imbued with a compassionate understanding of the human condition The action moves along at a gentle pace, in keeping with its bucolic setting, but by the mark, everything changes and the story picks up momentum, ending with a thoroughly satisfying denouement which leads us inevitably towards the sequel, Sir Humphrey of Batch Hall The style is reminiscent of the James Herriot stories but with an added quirkiness of language and original phrasing I was left with the conviction that it would make perfect material for a television series A delightful read, which might just restore your faith in humanity Reading this book felt like I imagine taking a leisurely walk down an English country lane might feel, except that here you might pass into Wales somewhere along the way The hedgerows are full of birds, the lanes edged with wild flowers, cricket is played on the village green and a regatta takes place on the river In this setting lives a cast of eccentric and endearing characters who drive the story.Batch Magna is a village on the border of Wales, a back water with a manor house, a pub, a few Reading this book felt like I imagine taking a leisurely walk down an English country lane might feel, except that here you might pass into Wales somewhere along the way The hedgerows are full of birds, the lanes edged with wild flowers, cricket is played on the village green and a regatta takes place on the river In this setting lives a cast of eccentric and endearing characters who drive the story.Batch Magna is a village on the border of Wales, a back water with a manor house, a pub, a few shops and a river with a bunch of houseboats on it When the old lord of the manor dies without direct male heirs, the rules of inheritance deem that the property be turned over to an American nephew Death duties and an ancient property badly in need of repairs means that something has to change, and with the help of some friends with questionable motives, Humphrey, the new lord, sends eviction notices to those on the houseboats He plans to turn them into restaurants and accommodation for tourists So we have Sir Humphrey or Humph as he prefers to be known on one side and the river dwellers on the other side.Our first impression of Sir Humph comes before we actually meet him Like most of the villagers we have an idea of him as some brash money grabbing American, but things aren t that simple and it s that that makes this story interesting.This is no fast paced action novel, it s unashamedly leisurely and character driven The plot is simple, but the people aren t We read on because we want to find out what happens not only to the boat people, but also to Humphrey who is not as rich as we thought, and has a softer heart than we imagined The language is simple but beautiful and very English, to the point where I had to look up some of the terms my kindle was able to enlighten me, luckily It took a while for me to get into it because the story begins slowly and I mused to stories that leap straight in and grab you, but eventually its pace and charm seeped into me and took me quietly but surely into the world of the Cuckoos of Batch Magna Humph becomes the main character and it is his journey of self discovery that gives this book it s guts The book is light hearted and at times quite amusing, for example when Humph first arrives and is trying to get to his estate, he gets lost in the lanes that seem to go in every direction other than where he wants to go When he comes upon someone and asks directions, the answer is, oh yes, it s simple Then she gives a convoluted series of instructions that are not at all simple.This is a charming book that is so real that it makes me think, wow, the English really are like that Are they In some ways it s a kind of Wind in the Willows for adults It s perfect for a lazy summer afternoon or a cosy evening by the fire When reading I rarely do this but at one point I had to turn to the last few pages to see what would happen That s because I care so much for the characters that I couldn t bear to continue reading unless I knew at least one of the outcomes I m not a Wind in the Willows fan simply because I have a rat phobia and could not read the book that had a rat for a main character Because the front cover, at least on the Kindle edition, advertised the book as The Wind In The Willows for Adults, I fel When reading I rarely do this but at one point I had to turn to the last few pages to see what would happen That s because I care so much for the characters that I couldn t bear to continue reading unless I knew at least one of the outcomes I m not a Wind in the Willows fan simply because I have a rat phobia and could not read the book that had a rat for a main character Because the front cover, at least on the Kindle edition, advertised the book as The Wind In The Willows for Adults, I felt compelled to look up the synopsis and yes, the similarities are present Inevitable comparisons to other authors are a good thing It s like the old Sonny Cher song, The Beat Goes On in that good writing, like rock and roll, will never die So if I compare Peter Maughan to Alexander McCall Smith, know that I have compared Alexander McCall Smith to Barbara Pym and that is the highest compliment for me to bestow I cannot see the merit in repeating other reviewers or telling the readers what they already know from the book blurb So here are the elements that are important to me Magical Yes Even the name Batch Magna seems to swirl in a bit of star dust Character growth Yes Several of the characters manage to stumble along the path and discover a bit of maturity Comedy because life really is comic at times Yes Chaotic scenes of husbands, wives, friends, lovers, hormonal teens and dogs, dogs, dogs my absolute favorite characters complete the necessary reading components for enjoyment I ve read 92 percent of the book and dread finishing it I want to move on a houseboat, preferably in Wales England Wales I want to sit in a pub as part of the off beat denizens of Batch Magna who remind me somewhat of Martha Grimes group in the Jury novels another comparison, another favorite Did I tell you I don t want the book to end Fortunately, this is the first in a series so it will continue and I can crawl between the pages, if one can do that using a Kindle, and re enter the world of the Cuckoos If you ve watched Downton Abbey you probably know all about entailed English estates But Peter Maughan s The Cuckoos of Batch Magna concerns a Marcher village inmodern times, set on the border of England and Wales, with a rather hapless American inheritor hoping to turn the world into a theme park The combination of wry British humor, gorgeously evocative description, great characters, wonderful dialog and leisurely fascinating plot is masterful.Imagine McCall Smith writing on the Englis If you ve watched Downton Abbey you probably know all about entailed English estates But Peter Maughan s The Cuckoos of Batch Magna concerns a Marcher village inmodern times, set on the border of England and Wales, with a rather hapless American inheritor hoping to turn the world into a theme park The combination of wry British humor, gorgeously evocative description, great characters, wonderful dialog and leisurely fascinating plot is masterful.Imagine McCall Smith writing on the English Welsh border, add soaring descriptions of meadow, river and home, build it all into chapters that end like well made TV episodes, nicely complete and leaving you yearning for , and you ll get the picture Life is slower here, like the rolling of the stream, but not necessarily quieter when the peacock screams And the Strange family just might endure, under their enameled coat of arms, a castle with a lion and otter rampant Death duties threaten the village s way of life death to the lifestyle of small riverbank animals too, giving this story a nicely modern, but non threatening ecological feel The Wind in the Willows echoes pleasingly, coupled with TV s Tales of the Riverbank Owain, who believed in the magic of otters, and his friends will lose it all, unless a happy ending can be found But this novel will keep you guessing when you ve guessed, it will keep you reading when you ve finished it will keep you longing to revisit and learn what happens next The characters truly come to life in a world both real and beautiful, gently humorous, wisely honest, and genuinely fun Disclosure The author offered me a free ecopy and I m offering my honest review I honestly loved it I m not one for rereading books, apart from perhaps the classics Quite simply, I have so many books to read my TBR will happily sort me out for the next ten years, I think so it s purely a time thing.However never say never This is one book I would have no hesitation in putting back in the pile to read again And again How can one describe the village of Batch Magna Difficult to find that s for sure dreamy, quiet, peaceful where time has almost stood still BUT, it s all about to change whe I m not one for rereading books, apart from perhaps the classics Quite simply, I have so many books to read my TBR will happily sort me out for the next ten years, I think so it s purely a time thing.However never say never This is one book I would have no hesitation in putting back in the pile to read again And again How can one describe the village of Batch Magna Difficult to find that s for sure dreamy, quiet, peaceful where time has almost stood still BUT, it s all about to change when the squire of the Batch Magna estate dies and it passes to his beneficiary, Humph Humph has no plans whatsoever for the estate as it stands no, muchprofitable would be a theme park This divides the village s residents those with businesses foresee an upturn in their profits that a constant flow of visitors would provide The tenants who live on the estate s houseboats are devastated They face eviction And the loss of their lazy, hazy existence.It s not so much the actual story that s captivating here It s the writing Maughan makes me want to go and live in this almost unfindable, dozy, little place AND with the delightfully quirky motley crew of characters He s created a magic kingdom to which you would want to escape I swear I could hear birds singing, branches rustling and water lapping as I read That s how enchanting it is So much so, I can just about overlook theum loose editing Sorry, Peter.Read this It s delightful `Free ↶ The Cuckoos of Batch Magna ☠ When Sir Humphrey Miles Pinkerton Strange, huntin shootin and fishin Squire of Batch Magna, goes to his reward doubtless to find God as true blue British as his recent but equally worthy ancestors , his rambling but rotting estate passes to distant relative Humph, a hapless dollar doodler in New YorkWith in his eyes, Humph decides to make a killing by transforming the sleepy backwater of Batch Magna into a theme park image of rural England a vacation paradise for free spending US millionairesBut while the village s threadbare businessmen see the plan as a windfall, the tenants of the estate s dilapidated houseboats are above any consideration of filthy lucre and stand their ground for tradition s sake and because they consider eviction notices not to be cricketEach disgruntled faction sees the other as the unwelcome cuckoo chick in the family nest So, lead by randy pulp crime writer Phineas Cook and Lt Commander James Cunningham DSO, DSC and Bar, RN ret a man with a glass eye to suit every occasion and all painted with naval battle scenes where the Union Jack flies triumphant the motley crew takes on Wall Street broadside to broadside