Mr. Finchley Discovers His England tells the story of how Mr. Finchley discovered himself while on traveling like a will-o-the-wisp through England. Edgar Finchley is an established bachelor clerk whose life has been structured around work and responsibility. But with a new manager, suddenly he has a three-week vacation, the first in ten years. He plans to go to Margate, but on the way there, he agrees to watch a brand new car for someone, gets bored, and falls asleep in the back seat. He wakes up when the wild driving dumps him on the floor only to discover the driver is a thief who has stolen the car.
From there he gets into one situation after another, some dangerous and others simply hilarious. I mean he actually gets chased by a bull. Along the way, he meets several rascals and scoundrels, enough to make me think of the picaresque Lazarillo de Tormes and Gil Blas. You can’t really call this a picaresque novel, though, since Finchley is not a rogue, not at all. He’s naive, gallant, charitable, and honest. Perhaps Pilgrim’s Progress is a better comparison, and this pilgrim redeems himself by becoming less fussy, a more sympathetic person.
I enjoyed Mr. Finchley Discovers His England very much. His adventures are delightful and although there are moments of danger and risk, readers know by the number of pages left in the book that Mr. Finchley will be fine. The book is full of humor and misadventure. The only thing that seems a bit obtrusive is occasional authorial noting that Finchleys’ indigestion was not bothering him, that he was getting a tan, and that his hair was bleaching in the sun. This is the physical manifestation of the personal transformation he goes through, discovering that he is not an old fuddy-duddy after all.
Mr. Finchley Discovers His England will be released on April 18th. I received an e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley.