Rumpole à la Carte

Rumpole à la Carte - John Mortimer [These notes were made in 1993:]. This is amusing and light stuff: six short stories featuring that gruff but highly competent barrister for the defence, Rumpole and his colleagues at the Temple. Mortimer is a skilful enough writer to give each story not only a shape but a theme - for instance, the title story is about food and eating, not only in its main plot, but in the subsidiary details. "Rumpole and the Summer of Discontent" is not only about a case of labour unrest, but about a personal strike mounted by Rumpole's wife, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. Mortimer's tendency to humorous exaggeration softens the inevitable political objectionableness of some of his protagonist's gruffer stands, and one ends up liking the old bastard after all. He does, in the end, have both a keen eye for, and a tolerance for, ordinary human failings. I enjoyed this quite a bit.