great fun | big-hearted | witty
what it’s all about …
Flappy Scott-Booth is the self-appointed queen bee of Badley Compton, a picturesque Devon village. While her husband Kenneth spends his days on the golf course, she is busy overseeing her beautiful house and gardens, and organising unforgettable events, surrounded by friends who hang on to her every word.
Her life is a reflection of herself – impossibly perfect.
Until the day that Hedda Harvey-Smith and her husband Charles move into the village. Into an even grander home than hers. Taking the front seat on the social scene, quite literally.
That simply will not do.
Flappy is determined to show Hedda how things are done here in Badley Compton. But then she looks into Charles’s beautiful green eyes. And suddenly, her focus is elsewhere. She is only human, after all…
PUBLISHED: 4th March 2021
SHELF: Contemporary Fiction
AUTHOR: Santa Montefiore
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
FORMATS: Paperback | Hardback | Kindle | AudioBook
my review …
I’ve had my copy of Flappy Entertains on my shelf for a while now, and I have to say its quirky title has been calling to me since its arrival! If it’s piqued your interest too, let me confirm that Flappy is indeed the name of the book’s main character … and entertain is exactly what she does, both as a matter of course and – more often than not – completely unintentionally.
Flappy Entertains is an entertaining escape of the very best kind. The settings are glorious, rendered in a luxurious technicolour that fans of Santa Montefiore will be heartily familiar with. The characters are fulsome and engaging and, in the case of this particular novel, a cheekily satirical homage to the social hierarchies (real or imagined) of many a quaintly affluent small English town. It’s a captivating lovechild of Keeping Up Appearances and The Witches of Eastwick.
Set in the coastal Devonshire town of Badley Compton, this is a community whose echelons are carefully arranged in a pecking order presided over by the queen bee herself, Flappy Scott-Booth. She’s a well-read, cultured woman of exquisite taste, unimpeachable morals, and impeccable style who eschews carbs, exults in classical music, and radiates class … outwardly. Behind closed doors she reads the Daily Mail, scoffs cakes from Big Mary’s café, listens to Celine Dion, and devours trashy bodice rippers … all undertaken so far behind closed doors that even her acquiescent husband, Kenneth, is blissfully unaware of these base predilections.
The arrival of Hedda and Charles Harvey-Smith could prove to be Flappy’s undoing, both socially and maritally. Hedda comes from a titled family, is rolling in money, has just bought the biggest house in the area, and she plans to throw an incredible party … everyone knows such things are Flappy’s domain. And then there’s Charles; handsome, charming, twinkly-eyed, seductive Charles … within moments of crossing paths (amongst the front pews of the church no less, right under the Vicar’s watchful gaze) Flappy’s a fallen women, besotted in the languorous blink of a roving eye.
There was something wickedly enjoyable about Flappy’s unbuttoning. Not in a catty way, but as something to be celebrated. As the main protagonist she’s a rip-roaring character who owns the page and deserves every ounce of enjoyment. It would be too easy to say you’d find her snobbery and self-importance irritating, because beneath the carefully curated exterior she has vulnerabilities we can all identify with. She just wears them beneath a cloak of opinionated, tightly-laced confidence that we should all applaud, for the sisterhood (not that Flappy would embrace something quite so crass).
Flappy’s steamy, clandestine trysts with Charles unleash a transformative passion that quite unnerves her loyal acolytes, even raising the eyebrows of her golf-blinkered husband. For Kenneth, it’s the fact his wife is scoffing hot buttered toast and loading milk into her tea that first rings alarm bells, whereas her friends are deeply unsettled by her sudden unconditional benevolence, and libertine quaffing of prosecco. Only we, the readers, get to see Happy Flappy at full throttle … skinny dipping, dancing naked to Shania and Kylie’s high-volume greatest hits … a sight to behold, and overwhelmingly enjoyed. She may be in her sixties but she’s grasping life’s perkiest bits with the vim and vigour of a twenty year old. Giddy and besotted, she just about manages to maintain a tenuous veneer of respectability, attributing her ethereal glow to the miracles of meditation.
Something was afoot. Could it really be the meditation? … It was very strange to see Flappy like this. Was she in a state of bliss? they wondered. Was this what Buddha meant when he talked about enlightenment? Had Flappy reached Nirvana! Could Nirvana be reached in only a week?
As much as I adored her escapades, I couldn’t ignore a nagging concern for her marriage, nor her blossoming friendship with Hedda. Flappy tries to keep her prowling sexual urges at bay by involving the vicar in as many social occasions as she can, but in a small town it’s impossible to keep secrets. With the potential for dreadful fall-out, all hope lies with Flappy’s long-suffering, newly appointed PA to step way beyond the job description with her talent for damage limitation.
This isn’t Flappy Scott-Booth’s first literary rodeo … since reading Flappy Entertains I’ve indulged my curiosity by reading a handful of other reviews, and that’s when I learned that dearest Flappy popped up with all her snobbish critiquery (yep, I might just have forced that new word into being!) in The Temptation of Gracie. As luck would have it, I snaffled a copy of Gracie recently in a pre-loved bookshop and it’s been languishing on my shelves awaiting it’s turn. Well, having been so thoroughly and resoundingly entertained by Flappy, I’m rather excited to have an opportunity to return to Badley Compton sooner than expected.
Endlessly amusing and bursting with life, Flappy Entertains is a triumph of escapist charm.
Thank you to Jo Wright from Books & Lovely Things for running a giveaway on her Twitter feed for this hardback copy of Flappy Entertains. I was delighted to win, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my review.
If this book sounds like one you’d love to read too, here’s a selection of purchase links:
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Born in England in 1970 Santa Montefiore grew up on a farm in Hampshire and was educated at Sherborne School for Girls. She read Spanish and Italian at Exeter University and spent much of the 90s in Buenos Aires, where her mother grew up. She converted to Judaism in 1998 and married historian Simon Sebag Montefiore in the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha in London.
Santa Montefiore’s novels have been translated into twenty languages and have sold more than three million copies in England and Europe.
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