Raymond Briggs, the author of the perennial christmas tradition that is The Snowman which has become an intrinsic part of Christmas for young people for generations, as traditional as the turkey and the nativity is criminally less known for his other works, one being Gentleman Jim.
There’s not much opportunity for self-advancement in toilets
Jim is a toilet cleaner who understandably is looking for something more in life, happily Jim has an imagination, a love of TV and books and a wife who is willing to indulge his life fantasies for him but also to make her life more interesting too.
Both characters are really affable, it is difficult not to be drawn into their comfortable world with their set ways and the endearing way in which they attempt to make sense of a bewildering and fast paced modern world.
This is a story of an unlikely hero Jim, who gets into scrapes with a faceless world, all for his well meaning if unconventional attempts to make life a little better for himself and others only to discover that it’s a lot more complicated than he imagined.
His love of various mediums of entertainment and his willingness to lose himself in the excitement is coupled with his inability to translate his ideas into the real world, which sounds like a criticism now that I write it but it really makes Jim guy to root for. It’s the Jim’s of this world that are the heroes we should sympathise with, with their shambling, innocent or perhaps just a little naive ways.
Consistently amusing as it is and there really are a lot amusing lines scattered throughout the book as well as a hefty dose of nostalgia, it does have a slightly sad air of the older generations being left behind and increasingly isolated, if not downright bamboozled by the pace of change that seems to reinvent the fabric of society with all to frequent regularity.
Although the scope of the book is limited, for it is short, it’s always engaging, the eccentric nature of the two leads is just adorable and the gentle humour sparkles consistently and makes you really care for each character right from page one.This is a book you will finish in one sitting and then feel the need top go and blog about how charming it is.
The art shows the contrast between the dullness of real life and the exciting colourful world of the imagination, it’s not just a colour contrast but also an emotional contrast, the impassioned nature of Jim’s character is unequivocal when it comes to his romantic reveries. All this and it could still be classed as a children’s books were it not for the nudes in Paris.