Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Book Review: The Club of Queer Trades

Title: The Club of Queer Trades
Author: G. K. Chesterton
Release Date: 1905 (pre-conversion)

Genre: mystery, adventure, humor, morals
My Rating: ***
Official Rating: fiction (adult)
Age Group: 12+
Students' Rating: "confusing but funny"

A collection of G. K. Chesterton's writings about Basil Grant, this novel is more episodic than the classic novel we are used to. It revolves around men belonging to the Club of Queer Trades, where one must create an entirely new way of earning an honest living in a way that has never been done before. Basil Grant, likely a precursor to Fr. Brown, left his job as judge long ago, apparently having gone crazy. Now, he wanders about England with his brother Rupert (a mockery of Sherlock Holmes) solving apparent mysteries that, well, aren't nearly as mysterious and criminal as they appear.
Word of Warning
  • Mention of opium
  • Mention of adventures that involve going to different countries and killing animals for sport
  • Fist fights
  • Apparent danger, prisoners
  • Some slightly immoral businesses. Not immoral along the lines of inappropriate, but immoral as in not morally right.
  • There are lots of things that simply have to be interpreted a different way for them to be understood as not crimes but merely interesting ways of living.
  • Basil is a mystic and stargazer (among other random things)
  • Characters smoke

My Thoughts
Think the beginnings of Fr. Brown and Manalive. It's got enough misunderstandings, moral and philosophical murmurings, quirky characters, ramblings, bashing of others' ideas and authors (Darwinism, Doyle, etc), and Chestertonian-ness to be amusing and full of insights. These are fun little capers that are just quirky enough to keep you smiling and reading. Sure, there's a lot going on, and it's not the best of Chesterton's writings, and it doesn't hold together well. But it's still a fun read that can be thought provoking.
At the very least, it's very, very interesting to watch what new methods of work/income GKC can come up with. There really is no end to this guy's imagination.

No comments: