Maurice Allington has reached middle age and is haunted by death. As he says, “I honestly can’t see why everybody who isn’t a child, everybody who’s theoretically old enough to have understood what death means, doesn’t spend all his time thinking about it. It’s a pretty arresting thought.” He also happens to own and run a country inn that is haunted. The Green Man opens as Maurice’s father drops dead (had he seen something in the room?) and continues as friends and family convene for the funeral.
Maurice’s problems are many and increasing: How to deal with his own declining health? How to reach out to a teenage daughter who watches TV all the time? How to get his best friend’s wife in the sack? How to find another drink? (And another.) And then there is always death.
The Green Man is a ghost story that hits a live nerve, a very black comedy with an uncannily happy ending: in other words, Kingsley Amis at his best.
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What if P.G. Wodehouse wrote Rosemary's Baby, or Evelyn Waugh directed Carrie? Imagine John Cleese starring in The Sixth Sense. This novel is multi-faceted; part comedy, horror story, bedroom drama, and satire. It is also quintessentially British, with it's country inn, daytrip to a dusty library collection at Oxford, and a wry, detached, melancholic narrator. Best of all, Amis is a master stylist, even if his characters are predictable or lacking dimension, he never writes a dull sentence. In fact, he is one of a handful of 20th century authors (Philip Roth is another) who can inject reflective and philosophic prose into the most mundane of settings.