There aren’t many books that make me really giggle and laugh with tears running down my face whilst reading – but several passages in several of the Chronicles of St Mary’s books by Jodi Taylor had this effect on me.
Truthfully, I find her a very refreshing author who writes in a such a fast- paced, clear and funny way that you find yourself really being able to visualise the events as they are occurring to her combatants and the unfortunates who encounter them and thus get embroiled in their mishaps.
There are currently 6 books about the St Mary’s crowd and 3 short stories. It is best if you try and read them in order – including the short stories, as then you can follow the very convoluted lives of the inhabitants of this ‘history observed in real time’ establishment. Please please never say the dreaded words – time travel – they do go backwards to historical events – but to observe only and then correct the history books! They are historians after all – well some of them are. Some are the security squad who are required to protect these historians when they get into scrapes.
Some are the research geeks who want to see if some of the recorded historical science is viable. Now this can really get them into trouble – especially with swans who live on the lake in the grounds who get rather irate when they are turned blue or their lake is set on fire! They also need a technical squad to maintain the ‘pods’ which are definitely NOT time travel devices – and of course computers geeks, house maintenance, cooks to feed those with hearty appetites but not much discrimination of taste; and the admin staff to ensure that budgets are adhered to and funds are applied for and all the other stuff necessary to keep St Mary’s operational; and lastly, but very essentially, the medical staff to treat the various illnesses, accidents, and general body repairs required after the historians have been observing in real time.
So I thought I would just make you laugh and rather than reviewing the books as such I am going to give you some tasters of what I think are the funnier paragraphs. Just short excerpts.
Excerpts from various books - not in book order!
Should you find yourself in a quiet back alley somewhere, it’s well worth checking around. There’s bound to be a pod and two bickering historians nearby. Wave if you like!
They wouldn’t have noticed if Napoleon’s army had swung through on their way to Moscow, singing the 1812 overture scored for full chorus, 21 cannons, and a tambourine.
At this hour I can assume the two of you are up to no good. Whatever it is, I want to be included.
I was as highly strung as a violin on steroids – which would be a cello I suppose.
Teenagers are inarticulate, acne-ridden lumps of inert matter. The only way you can induce movement is by trying to separate one from its mobile phone. And ..then the only way you can stop it attacking is with rhinoceros tranquiliser.
...it is a complete mystery to us. We have no idea whence the cabbage smell emanates. We have, in the past, constructed new pods and the next day we are overwhelmed with the aroma of cabbage.
I don ‘t know if other people’s swans can do this but I swear ours an go up a forty-foot beech tree faster than a banker can collect his bonus.
She said nothing in a manner that conveyed volumes.
I said nothing in a manner that I hoped conveyed my complete innocence.
She said nothing in a manner that conveyed her disbelief in my complete innocence.
I said nothing in a manner that conveyed my hurt at this lack of trust in me.
I however, was grateful that my boots would be based on the conventional design and not related, in even the smallest way, to anyone’s testicles. And there aren’t many jobs where you can make that statement.
For some time, he was considered the world’s first tabloid journalist ...until ..it was discovered that what had been regarded as a particularly imaginative bit of reporting, concerning giant Persian ants who dug up gold dust as they excavated their burrows was true after all...
I do know that here at St Mary’s where the concepts of mouths shut and heads down (unless Professor Rapson was in the vicinity of course) was virtually unknown, he stood out like a small golden nugget in an assembly of politicians, bankers and estate agents.
We regarded him with all the dismay of a politician who has suddenly remembered the existence of the electorate only tem minutes before the polls close.
Suddenly, everyone was at their oars and we were ready for the start of the race – a traditional St Mary’s demonstration of entropy – from order to disorder. In the words of the song ‘Nobody does it better’.
Believe it or not there were rules. Everyone needs rules. After all, how can you break what doesn’t exist? Rules give anarchy something to aim at.
After a great deal of wriggling through the snow on their bellies, they made the simultaneous discovery that they couldn’t feel their todgers. I didn’t even want to speculate on what they were doing to make this discovery......were rushed to Sick Bay..and when I eventually got to them, they were sitting on a table, carefully immersing their affected members in pint beer glasses filled with warm water.
The last time I went out with you, you nearly lost an arm. Try to take a little more crae this time. It took ages to wash your blood out of my hair.
Getting things done at St Mary’s is a bit like elephants mating....there’s frantic activity at high level. There’s screaming and stamping. A lot of dust is raised. Nothing happens for two years and then you’re crushed by the result.
I’d never seen anything like it. The curtains matched the bedcovers, which matched the cushions – always a sign of a diseased mind.
[i] [Note to readers, these comments do not apply to her other book The Nothing Girl which is not intended to be funny in any way and will be reviewed at a later date.