Bagthorpes Unlimited

by Helen Cresswell

Cover image

Series: Bagthorpe Saga #3
Publisher: Hodder
Copyright: 1978
Printing: 1998
ISBN: 0-340-71653-3
Format: Mass market
Pages: 214

Buy at Powell's Books

This is the third book of the Bagthorpe children's series by Helen Cresswell. While you don't have to read the prior books first, you'll miss various references to previous events.

After a bizarre burglary (and a beautiful example of how the Bagthorpes just don't play by the same rules as the rest of the world) and a visit from their excessively religious aunt and insufferably precocious cousins, the Bagthorpes are suffering from a sense of inferiority. That obviously cannot be tolerated, so they launch into a full-blown attempt to become famous and immortalized, one way or another. This somehow leads to a climactic confrontation over a daisy chain.

This story didn't jell for me quite as well as Absolute Zero, which I think is the strongest of the first four Bagthorpe books, but it has some wonderful moments. Daisy's phase of Reconciling the Seemingly Disparate is the best yet, a stroke of brilliance, and I loved Mr. Bagthorpe's war of Bible quotes with the insufferable Aunt Penelope. Cresswell also has a real knack for making all of the Bagthorpe disasters fall naturally out of the constant tendency for the Bagthorpes to take things just a little bit too far. One gets the distinct impression that catastrophes could happen to any of us if we were just a little bit more obsessive and a little more unlucky.

The downsides for this book are a bit too much of the annoying aunt and cousins and rather a lot of maggots. I didn't really want to spend that much time thinking about decaying meat. Cresswell also seemed to be repeating herself and rehashing the family history and tendencies more than in the previous books, but that may just be because I've read several close together.

Despite that, though, still recommended. The flat, matter-of-fact delivery and occasional wry interjection work beautifully for me, and despite having read and re-read this book many times, it, like the rest of the series, still have me laughing out-loud.

Followed by Bagthorpes V. the World.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed: 2005-04-20

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