Land of My Neighbours, By Barry Pilton

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The Independent Culture

I love Wales and I love comic novels, so I expected to enjoy this comic novel set in Wales. It disappointed, I'm sorry to say.

The comic premise isn't bad: Gareth, a love-crazed sheep farmer, is jailed for chiselling off the genitals of a nude statue; unable to farm his land, he has to put it up for auction, but who will buy it: Stefan, the nouveau-riche manor owner who wants to buy a vista appropriate to his wealth; Rhys, who wants to set up adventurous bonding weekends for middle managers; or Gwyn, the conservationist who wants to establish a nature reserve?

The novel's climax is a public auction at which the rivalry is fought out. But Barry Pilton's style is both arch and archaic, full of circumlocutions and stodgy words such as "albeit", with a fondness for random bursts of alliteration ("Pique had pushed him to promote these very public private parts.") If all the self-consciously amusing description and comment were taken out, you might have a decent comic novella.

Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid, but others have praised it, so don't let me put you off.