The Improvised Life of Polycarp Jarvis
Publisher: Duckworth Books
An exuberant, life-affirming novel of taking your chances
After a spur-of-the-moment day out with his boss’ daughter in celebration of his 21st birthday, Polycarp Jarvis decides to quit his Bristol-based junior government worker job. Newly emboldened, he embarks on an erratic, engaging and not always strictly legal course through life.
Going from bus driver for the Red Dragon Motor Company to co-owner of a flying company, to seller of quack medicines, and eventually to media tycoon, Polycarp makes much of his luck along the way. Through ups and downs, his exuberance and charm carry him through.
But what kind of person will he be by the end?
This gentle coming-of-age story was hugely popular on first publication in the 1930s and retains a timeless appeal today.Praise for Victor Canning:
‘Quite delightful … with an atmosphere of quiet contentment and humour that cannot fail to charm.’ Daily Telegraph
‘There is such a gentle humour in the book.’ Daily Sketch
‘What counts for most in the story … is his mounting pleasure in vagabondage and the English scene.’ The Times
‘A paean to the beauties of the English countryside and the lovable oddities of the English character.’ New York Times
‘His delight at the beauties of the countryside and his mild astonishment at the strange ways of men are infectious.’ Daily Telegraph
‘A swift-moving novel, joyous, happy and incurably optimistic.’ Evening Standard ‘His gift of story-telling is obviously innate. Rarely does one come on so satisfying an amalgam of plot, characterisation and good writing.’ Punch