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Charley is my Darling

By Joyce Cary

A charming, accessible tale of childhood and youth, that offers plentiful insight and raises many questions.

Charley is a London lad and an evacuee. Initially an outcast, his wit and humour win him friends, although not always of the best type.

Among Charley Brown’s first deeds as an evacuee to Longwater in the West Country is to let loose the local bull. Boys who one minute had taunted him with the refrain ‘Ballocky baldy’ (Charley’s lice having been evacuated from London with him), were the next minute acknowledging him as their natural leader.

Charley Brown, one of Joyce Cary’s most uproarious and memorable creations, is a love and a terror. He is a quivering jelly in the hands of girls and women of any age who show him kindness; through the wild force of his imagination he holds children rapt with tales of desperate gunmen with exquisite manners and a taste for the beautiful.

He leads his gang into daring acts both grand and bad. As Charley’s sweetheart Lizzy Galor rightly puts it, he’s every bit as good as the movies … But those movies don’t always have a happy ending.

Charley is my Darling will please those who already enjoy the work of Cary. Readers with an interest in social history, education and child development will also enjoy it.

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