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A Little of What You Fancy
Page Count
Word Count
Michael Joseph
Publication Year
Document Types
Radio Dramatizations
Comic Fiction
Larkin Family Novels
available as ebook

London: Michael Joseph, 1970.

The last of the five Larkin family novels (and the last Bates novel) is, until more than halfway through, much more serious than any of its predecessors. Pop Larkin's heart attack leads to an uncharacteristic depression; neither the romance of Primrose and Reverend Candy nor Edith Pilchester's drowning of her grief in drink distract from a somberness striking in an otherwise comic series. However, with the Barnwell sisters announcing their fund "for saving England" from a tunnel to France (including a road through the Larkin property), Pop is revived. The remainder of the book, including the obligatory banquet at the end, displays the usual Larkin joy of life and features a particularly delightful character in Angela Snow's father, a Queen's Counsel who charms Ma and the other women.

Bates suffered two heart attacks in 1966 and, like Pa, was attended by a "gorgeous New Zealand nurse" (Baldwin, 1987, p. 220). The title comes from the vaudeville song made famous by the Victorian singer Marie Lloyd, "A Little of What You Fancy Does You Good."

The novel was dramatized by Eric Pringle for BBC Radio in 1996 in a production starring David Jason and Pam Ferris, reprising their roles from the Darling Buds of May TV series. It was directed by Adrian Bean and produced by Richard Bates, son of the author.

David F. Williams, in the Times Literary Supplement, writes that those for whom 'recent Larkin moods readers have been hard to take...can take some small degree of comfort from...the fifth and latest in the series which suffers far less than the others from slap-and-tickle exuberance...Throughout all these five books, he has been longing for an Arcadia which never was but which now seems more impossibly out of reach than ever before in man's history. In this one, just now and then, he succeeds in injecting a genuine ache into his fantasies.'


  • Times Literary Supplement (June 4, 1970, p. 601, David F. Williams, attached)


The below reviews and articles are available in PDF format.