The Late Breakfasters by Robert Aichman

The Late Breakfasters and Other Strange Stories (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Philip Challinor, Robert Aickman

I was supposed to review this in April 2017 and somehow it slipped through the cracks :( 

I started and stopped this book several times this week. At one point, I had zoned out so much I think I might’ve lost two hours and just started the entire thing over from the beginning. It’s likely me and my lazy brain, which is still a little foggy from lingering back pain, but I’m not going to lie, this book isn’t what I thought it was going to be and it starts off terribly slow. 

I don’t even know how to begin this review because the story doesn’t follow any of the rules and does its own thing. I’m still not sure what that thing was but it might’ve gone over my head. If you pick this story up thinking it’s going to be scary or a little creepy because of the cover art, you will be disappointed because it’s not either of those things. It starts out when a young lady named Griselda is invited to a house party by a family friend who enjoys having pretty eye candy around for the men. At least that was the way it came across to me. Also invited are a whole bunch of Very Important People and Political Big Wigs who debate about politics and other things that didn’t interest me in the faintest. There’s also a dull girl whose only interest in life appears to be mascara. They all eat breakfast and go on walks. 

I kept waiting for something bizarre and eccentric to happen as the blurb promised me but it didn’t. There is a ghost that may be hanging about the house but nothing much was made of the fact and it certainly wasn’t a scary ghost. Griselda has a lightning fast love affair with a lovely lady named Louise which is likely scandalous at the time but it’s over nearly before it is started and before the two have been able to exchange contact information. Griselda longs for Louise but resigns herself to a life without her, taking on a job in a bookshop and meeting further quirky people who have some odd adventures and that’s really about it. As I said, it’s a strange little story with some fun moments but there weren’t enough to keep me from struggling to finish.

I’m sure someone is saying, “Why did this fool continue to read this story if all she does is whine and moan about it?” Well, here’s why:

• I am not only a fool but I am a stubborn fool. I’m also not really a quitter.

• The writing was beautiful and thoughtful and there’s quite a bit of social commentary thrown in, if that’s your thing. 

• Several of the descriptions were oddly hilarious “He began to read the letter, looking, Griselda thought, like a monstrous sheep dyed green.” That just made me smile.

• The narration by Matt Godfrey was fantastic. He has a warm quality about his voice that lulls you in and makes you feel safe and comforted. If it weren’t for his narration, I seriously doubt I would’ve finished this book because this story isn’t the kind I typically seek out.

I’m giving the audio version a three because of the last three reasons. The story clearly wasn’t to my taste but you may read it and fall in love with the uniqueness of the tale. If it sounds interesting to you I’d recommend grabbing the audio and see where you land.