The Gentleman by Forrest Leo

The Gentleman by Forrest Leo

The Gentleman
by Forrest Leo

When Lionel Savage, a popular poet in Victorian London, learns from his butler that they’re broke, he marries the beautiful Vivien Lancaster for her money, only to find that his muse has abandoned him.

Distraught and contemplating suicide, Savage accidentally conjures the Devil — the polite “Gentleman” of the title — who appears at one of the society parties Savage abhors. The two hit it off: the Devil talks about his home, where he employs Dante as a gardener; Savage lends him a volume of Tennyson. But when the party’s over and Vivien has disappeared, the poet concludes in horror that he must have inadvertently sold his wife to the dark lord.

Newly in love with Vivian,  Savage plans a rescue mission to Hell that includes Simmons, the butler; Tompkins, the bookseller; Ashley Lancaster, swashbuckling Buddhist; Will Kensington, inventor of a flying machine; and Savage’s spirited kid sister, Lizzie, freshly booted from boarding school for a “dalliance.” Throughout, his cousin’s quibbling footnotes to the text push the story into comedy nirvana.

Lionel and his friends encounter trapdoors, duels, anarchist-fearing bobbies, the social pressure of not knowing enough about art history, and the poisonous wit of his poetical archenemy. Fresh, action-packed and very, very funny, The Gentleman is a giddy farce that recalls the masterful confections of P.G. Wodehouse and Hergé’s beautifully detailed Tintin adventures.

Publisher: Penguin Group
Publication: August 16, 2016
Genre: Humor, Absurdist
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
Purchase: amazon | b&n | book depo
Rated: ★★★

The Gentleman by Forrest Leo

It’s not every day you find a book where the Devil is accidentally conjured and a wife accidentally sold. It’s even rarer to find one where it’s actually funny, which is why The Gentleman by Forrest Leo was such a fantastic treat to read! The writing is so well done that you find yourself swept away with Savage in his quest to save his wife and stop trying to think rationally about anything. For such a bumbling fool, the author does a tremendous job portraying the charisma that has kept Savage afloat in society for so long.

The Gentleman is absolutely absurd in the most marvelous way. Every reaction, every situation is so over-the-top extraordinary, you just never stop laughing. Each of the characters play their caricature-esque persona perfectly. From the wild brute of an adventurer, to the brooding poet, to the all knowing butler, they are all so well written that you never bore of them or feel like “the gag” is getting old, mostly because it never feels like a gag. Leo does a tremendous job of making it all seem and feel genuine, which only adds to the hilarity of the situation.

I wholeheartedly would recommend this book to anyone interested in a laugh that is also sharp-witted enough to appreciate absurdist humor. The Gentleman by Forrest Leo reminds me a bit of Pinter’s early plays, as well as the McDonagh film, Seven Psychopaths, so if you’ve enjoyed either, this will definitely be a treat. This is definitely a book I would LOVE to see transformed into a play or movie because the absurdity and humor seems like it would work exceptionally well in a visual medium.

Quotes & Excerpts

It was Vivien who at last broke the silence between us, and so I may say without hesitation that the fault for my current predicament lies squarely upon her shoulders. Had she not said anything I would not have been able to, and would have returned home to Pocklington Place that evening with a feeling of cowardice and self-reproach which would have lasted for a day or a week and then given way to my accustomed cheer.
One: In Which I Find Myself Destitute & Rectify Matters in a Drastic Way.

‘Hubert — there’s a method to my madness and madness to my method: glorious, rather inspired madness. By writing in the present tense I bring immediacy to the events. Which, obviously, is the reason present tense exists. If I did not write thus, the reader would instantly know that the whole thing turned out well, if I sounded merry, or ill, if I sounded melancholy, and the effect would be ruined. Now be a good chap and leave literature to the literary’
Two: In Which My Sister Returns from School for Reasons Best Omitted, & I Am Forced to Deliver to Her a Previously Unmentioned Piece of Intelligence

‘[…] and wash up on a foreign shore and frighten to death some poor Froggy child building castles in the sand’
Two: In Which My Sister Returns from School for Reasons Best Omitted, & I Am Forced to Deliver to Her a Previously Unmentioned Piece of Intelligence [[I DIED at froggy child]]

Gas seems to me a most monstrous thing, impure, foul-smelling, and expensive. I have read of a young inventor in the North who makes the most marvellous contraptions powered entirely by steam, which seems to me a much better thing. Steam comes from water which comes from rain which comes from the sky. I like the sky, and I like rain. Gas, on the other hand, comes from I know not where, so I cannot know whether or not I like its progenitor.
Two: In Which My Sister Returns from School for Reasons Best Omitted, & I Am Forced to Deliver to Her a Previously Unmentioned Piece of Intelligence

The doorbell rings again, and my train of thought is derailed and several passengers are killed. I hope none of them were poetical. The door opens and shuts again. More guests. Many of them. At least a hundred. Perhaps a thousand.
Three: In Which My Wife Throws a Party & I Entertain a Mysterious Gentleman with Whom I Discuss Poetry, Friendship, & Marriage

About Lulu

Thirty-something year old educator based in New York, Lulu loves books, blogging, gaming, and her pom son Frodo Barkins with whom she shares her life. Book reviews specialize in all kinds of fantasy, some YA, some romance, and some contemporary, especially in the gothic genre.