Leon Garfield Julia Briggs - Essay

Julia Briggs

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Leon Garfield [presents] his simple people simply as they are [in Moss and Blister], in a comic view that surprisingly avoids being patronizing while delighting in absurdity at every social level. His laughter is quite without contempt, despite the fact that his methods are akin to caricature…. Moss and Blister is the latest in Garfield's series of "apprentices", odd little books whose length suggests a slightness that their energy contradicts. Moss the midwife and her scrawny apprentice are a splendidly comic duo, plying their trade of delivering babies—itself seen as essentially comic, perhaps for the first time since Dr. Slop—on Christmas Eve. (p. 1545)

Julia Briggs, in The Times Literary Supplement (© Time Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1976; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), December 10, 1976.

A preliminary glance at [The Book Lovers] raises suspicions that it is nothing but an attempt to entice reluctant readers. A young man worships a librarian from afar and follows her from "Lending" to "Reference", where he presses his suit by means of love scenes in the books he reads, ostensibly to prepare an anthology on love. One should have more faith in Leon Garfield! In the first place, the framework story is deliciously funny…. Secondly, the extracts are all from nineteenth-century authors, and though some are inevitable, the choice from Dickens, Trollope, Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë is by no means obvious. Other authors are less well-known to modern readers…. Most readers will have their horizons broadened—one extract is quite startlingly uncensored!—and the disparate elements fuse well into an entertaining whole. (p. 50)

The Junior Bookshelf, February, 1977.