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The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates

The Darling Buds of May

Part of the The Larkin Family Series Series
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August 2010 Guest Editor Veronica Henry on The Darling Buds of May...

The Larkins are a total contrast to the Corleones, but equally compelling. The characters and the setting are so wonderfully vivid – you can taste actually taste the strawberries and feel the sun on your back. And Ma Larkin is the ultimate domestic goddess –Bates’ descriptions of her legendary feasts leave your mouth watering.


The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates

'Home looks nice. Allus does though, don't it? Perfick' And so the Larkins - Pop, Ma, Mariette, Zinnia, Petunia, Primrose, Victoria and Montgomery - return from an outing for fish and chips and ice cream one May evening. There, amid the rustic charms of home, they discover a visitor: one Cedric Charlton, Her Majesty's inspector of taxes. Mr Charlton is visiting to find out why junk-dealer Pop hasn't paid his tax - but nothing's that simple at the Larkins. Mariette takes a shine to 'Charley' - as Pop calls him - and before long the family have introduced the uncomplaining inspector to the delights of country living: the lusty scents of wild flowers, the pleasures of a bottle of Dragon's Blood, cold cream dribbled over a bowl of strawberries and hot, hot summer nights. In fact, soon Charley can't see any reason to return to the office at all ...

About the Author

H.E. Bates

H. E. Bates was born in 1905 at Rushden in Northamptonshire and was educated at Kettering Grammar School. He worked as a journalist and clerk on a local newspaper before publishing his first book, The Two Sisters, when he was twenty. In the next fifteen years he acquired a distinguished reputation for his stories about English country life. During the Second World War he was a Squadron Leader in the R.A.F. and some of his stories of service life, The Greatest People in the World (1942), How Sleep the Brave (1943) and The Face of England (1953), were written under the pseudonym of 'Flying Officer X'. His subsequent novels of Burma, The Purple Plain and The Jacaranda Tree, and of India, The Scarlet Sword, stemmed directly or indirectly from his experience in the Eastern theatre of war. Perhaps one of his most famous works of fiction is the bestselling novel Fair Stood the Wind for France (1944).

In 1958 his writing took a new direction with the appearance of The Darling Buds of May, the first of the popular Larkin family novels, which was followed by A Breath of French Air (1959), When the Green Woods Laugh (1960), Oh! To Be in England (1963) and A Little of What You Fancy (1970). His autobiography appeared in three volumes, The Vanished World (1969), The Blossoming World (1971) and The World in Ripeness (1972). His last works included the novel, The Triple Echo (1971), and a collection of short stories, The Song of the Wren (1972). H. E. Bates also wrote miscellaneous works on gardening, essays on country life, several plays including The Day of Glory (1945), The Modern Short Story (1941) and a story for children, The White Admiral (1968). His works have been translated into sixteen languages. A posthumous collection of his stories, The Yellow Meads of Asphodel, appeared in 1976.

H. E. Bates was awarded the C.B.E. in 1973 and died in January 1974. He was married in 1931 and had four children.

Author photo © Mark Gerson

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 2006


H.E. Bates

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Penguin Books Ltd


144 pages


Family Drama
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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