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The Darling Buds Of May
H.E. Bates
‘The Darling Buds of May, which came out in 1958, was the first of five Larkin novels and in it readers witness the transformation of Mr. Charlton from a undernourished and timid tax clerk to a fully-converted member of the Larkin way of life: an easygoing celebration of nature, food, drink, and family. In the process, the reader is introduced to the Brigadier, Miss Pilchester, and Angela Snow. Setting the style for the series, the book ends with a grand celebration, and the announcement of the wedding of Charlie and Mariette. The novel was filmed with the title The Mating Game, and between 1991 and 1993, Yorkshire Television produced a highly-successful television series called ‘The Darling Buds of May’. This first book in the Larkin series was very successful, appearing first in the United States and then in Britain, where it sold 40,000 in the first two months. Many critics felt that Bates deserved better than to be remembered mostly for the Larkin novels, but they were very profitable. The immensely popular Larkin series of comic novels consisted of ‘The Darling Buds of May’, ‘A Breath of French Air’ (1959), ‘When the Green Woods Laugh’ (1960), ‘Oh! To Be in England’ (1963), and ‘A Little of What You Fancy’ (1970). Bates, speaking of how he was inspired to create the Larkins, recalled the real junkyard that he often passed near his home in Kent; and he remembered seeing a family -- a father, mother and many children, sucking at ice-creams and eating crisps in a "ramshackle lorry that had been recently painted a violent electric blue". He tried writing a brief tale based on the family, but soon decided that he couldn’t waste such a rich gallery of characters to a short story." Pop is a wonderful character who hates pomp, pretension and humbug; loves his family, but doesn’t hesitate to break a few rules... and his and the Larkins' secret is “that they live as many of us would like to live if only we had the guts and nerve to flout the conventions."
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