Box of Tricks
By Jeff Phelps
Published by Tindal Street Press
Summer, early 1960s. While Eddie’s parents are away he helps out at Auntie Vi’s seaside B&B, where the Rodcoopers, a flamboyant troupe of theatricals, cause chaos with their practical jokes. But Eddie only has eyes for one guest: the beautiful, bored Julia – and will do anything to win her approval.
Jeff Phelps was born in a seaside town on Merseyside. His stories and poetry have been widely published, and he won the Mail on Sunday novel competition in 1991. He’s married with two grown-up children, and works as an architect in Wolverhampton.
Well done Brett, I have been using our strategies in the book for over a decade and they are 100% on the mark. I only wish I had the book back then instead of learning through the school of hard knocks.
Enjoyable reading, fantastic.
An enjoyable coming of age story set in the unlikely but exciting setting of the seaside in north west England.
Easy to read, but that doesn't mean it's slight. this is an Intelligent and sensitive account of adolescence.
I laughed more while reading this novel than I’ve laughed at any other for a long time.
A fantastic, evocative novel of growing up in days gone by. Highly recommended!!
Beautifully written, a complete joy. Jeff captures the sense of the time and also evokes strong memories of seemingly endless school holidays and how confusing and delightful it was to be young. I am already looking forward to the next book from this talented author.
An excellent read. Thoroughly recommended.
A right riveting read.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, bought back many memories of the 60's. Highly recommended. Well done.
A very good read
I read this book very quickly. It is a definite page turner,an easy and enjoyable read. It takes the reader through a wide range of emotions and is quite humorous. The characters are very credible and likeable. It leaves you wanting to know what happens next. Well done Jeff.
A fantastic writer. I can thoroughly recommend.
Keeps the reader's attention throughout . . . very imaginative . . . highly recommended.
A real bostin' read - just like the area I remember when I used to visit my Aunts up there in the mid sixties
An excellent read...moving and nostalgic
Read this writer because Jeff Phelps is special. I read his first book and was deeply impressed - I can see him going on to great things.
Those of us who can remember the period in which this book is set will confirm how well the time has been captured, how truly the characters are drawn and how well they stand up for themselves in defending their idiosyncracies. The reader recognises the pains, painful pleasures and insecurities of growing up in a seaside town where seasonal entertainment and youthful daring can get young men and women into trouble.
A wonderful, warm and rewarding read
Lovely read, very nostalgic and thought provoking! Well done Jeff xxx
Jeff Phelps skilfully captures your heart as you immerse yourself into the lives of all the characters, an eclectic group of people who spend a summer season together in a seaside boarding house owned by the formidable matriarch, auntie Vi. The guests, a touring company of actors – professionally competitive but ultimately fiercely loyal towards each other – provide the backdrop to the story but it is the personal journeys experienced by Vi’s wayward son Ray and his younger cousin Eddie that have you gripped. You really care for them both, especially Eddie as he falls in love for the first time with the fickle Julia and his subsequent dealings with the seedy new ‘owner’ of The Box of Tricks. Would highly recommend this book – I loved It. The characters are so real that long after reading the book I still occasionally wonder what they might be doing now! Loved it! In fact…any chance of a sequel Mr Phelps?
At first, it feels like a warm hug of a book, full of lovingly remembered detail. And then it traps you with some of the real angst of growing up in the sixties. I could almost give the characters names amongst my own family and friends. The deeper I sank into the book, the more dimensions were revealed. Overall, an immensely satisfying read.
I really enjoyed reading my book. I have included my review of it below... Box of Tricks is a difficult book to categorize. It's part comedy, part nostalgia, part coming-of-age novel. But it also explores some deeper themes of freedom and responsibility, especially towards one's family. The setting of the book - a British seaside town in the early 1960s - reflects a time when society itself was changing rapidly. Two of the younger characters - teenage tearaway Ray and aspiring model Julia - are enthusiastically embracing the new freedoms. The narrator, the slightly younger Eddie, finds himself torn between the old and the new. Box of Tricks is beautifully written, in fluid, evocative prose. Yet though it is undoubtedly a literary novel, the author also weaves a cleverly constructed plot, with some surprising twists and turns. Many of these centre on the eponymous back-street joke shop, which plays a pivotal role in the story. Box of Tricks starts off slowly, then the pace speeds up as the key characters find their lives changing forever. The novel moves towards a conclusion that is touching without being over-sentimental. It answers enough questions to leave readers satisfied, yet enough unsaid to resonate long after the book has been put down. Overall, Box of Tricks gets my highest recommendation as an intelligent, thought-provoking, but above all hugely enjoyable read.