Mr American by George MacDonald Fraser is a pleasant wander through 585 pages.
Not in the same league as the Flashman series, the story meanders, tackles social issues, skirts around social issues, entertains and frustrates, but generally leaves the reader feeling good.
The main character is Mark Franklin, an American who sets tongues wagging in England when he arrives with seemingly unlimited wealth.
It transpires he once flirted with the wrong side of the law before striking it rich when he discovered a massive silver deposit.
Mr Franklin, as he is described throughout the book, is unpretentious but happily mingles with the English upper class.
He buys a home in the Norfolk village where his family hailed from and becomes accepted as the squire.
He stumbles across King Edward VII on a picnic and immediately finds himself mixing in royal society.
Mr Franklin employs a valet to train him in social etiquette, marries well and establishes a London household.
The dark side emerges when the marriage falters, a ruffian from Mr Franklin’s past needs despatching with a bullet, his wife’s brother steals money from him and gets himself killed and war clouds hover.
There are cameo appearances from General Sir Harry Flashman and some discussion of women’s suffrage issues.
I liked the descriptions of English upper class life in the early 20th century. Certainly it must have been a happy and carefree period before the First World War intervened. How terrible and senseless that was.
Mr Franklin frustrated me somewhat. He is portrayed as in control and astute, but allows himself to be deceived by his wife and her family.
Apart from some charity toward a distant relative he doesn’t use his wealth and position for any significant positive good.
I mentioned in January last year that George MacDonald Fraser had passed away.
That was a shame because he could definitely have written some more Flashman yarns. They will remain his best works.