Book Review: Topper by Thorne Smith

topperTopper by Thorne Smith

Thorne Smith is a master of urbane wit and sophisticated repartee. Topper, his best-known work, is the hilarious, ribald comedy on which the hit television show and movie (starring Cary Grant) were based.

It all begins when Cosmo Topper, a law-abiding, mild-mannered bank manager, decides to buy a secondhand car, only to find it haunted by the ghosts of its previous owners–the reckless, feckless, frivolous couple who met their untimely demise when the car careened into an oak tree. The ghosts, George and Marion Kerby, make it their mission to rescue Topper from the drab “summer of suburban Sundays” that is his life–and they commence a series of madcap adventures that leave Topper, and anyone else who crosses their path, in a whirlwind of discomfiture and delight.

Cosmo, a banker stuck in a rut, buys a car on a whim, despite being the car in which a young couple died in a few months before after crashing into a tree.

Little does he know, but the car is haunted by the dead couple, and soon the three are having a whale of a time. Topper escapes from his humdrum life (and wife), spends most of his time excessively drunk, getting into trouble and hanging around with a lot of dead people – and Oscar the dead dog.

I do vaguely remember the film with Cary Grant and I can just imagine the special effects being created for this – such as when Oscar can only (back) half appear..

Think the book would best be described as “screw-ball” which is a type of book – and film – which has fallen out of fashion, especially in early 21st century England. We like our humour different now I think. Whilst mildly amusing, this is not the funniest book I’ve read. At less than 300 pages, this shouldn’t have taken me very long to read, but too me several days. Ok, so I was on holiday at the time (even more excuse to read quickly) but still…..


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