Troubador A Season in the Sun

Released: 28/06/2017

ISBN: 9781788037174

eISBN: 9781788031936

Format: Paperback/eBook

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A Season in the Sun

A charming tale of a Seychelles legacy, village cricket and foul play


Henry Fanshawe, the last family member of Fanshawes Commodities in the City of London, leads a quiet life trading spices in a large dealing room. His day consists of ignoring requests to tidy his desk, making money and spending it on his three great loves: French landscape paintings, fine wine, and cricket. But the new City does not agree with him, and he finds himself falsely accused of financial chicanery, and summarily dismissed. In a stroke of extremely good fortune, a legacy from an elderly aunt allows Henry to move to the Seychelles – though there are strings attached. He must manage her Village Cricket Club, and propel it through the formative years of the Seychelles Cricket league to the position of greatness it deserves. For his colourful and talented team of amateurs, who include a depressive ex-county opener, a drug-taking fast bowler, and the local Chief of Police, this would be difficult enough a task. But in addition there are darker forces within Seychelles cricket, forces from the murky world of gambling who wish to twist the beautiful game to their illicit ends. Henry’s first season in the sun becomes a high stakes contest of amateur talent against organised crime, leading to a thrilling climax...A Season in the Sun combines cricket, crime and comedy in the beautiful surroundings of a south sea island. Similar in style to PG Wodehouse and William Boyd, it will appeal to fans of suspense and sporting pursuits alike.

Robert's latest play, the pantomime "Dick Whittington" is currently in rehearsal for performance at Penshurst Kent in February 2017

Robert will be signing copies of his book at the Penshurst Summer Fete on June 11th

That's Books

Books Monthly

Kiwi Crime

A Season in the Sun combines cricket, crime and comedy in the beautiful surroundings of a south sea island. What's not to love?!? This was a fun read - full of mystery and laughter.

by Christi Schiffbauer (NetGalley)

A Season in the Sun tells the story of Henry Fanshawe, an old-school English gentleman. and cricket fanatic. He works in the City trading spices for the family firm, where he is keeping an untidy desk and nodding off in the afternoons. When he is fired on a trumped up corruption charge, his charmed existence is in jeopardy.. But in a stroke of perfectly timed good luck, an elderly aunt bequeaths him everything including her home in the Seychelles. There's a condition - he will have to manage a club, the nature of which will be revealed when he gets there. It turns out to be a cricket club and its amateur members are pinning their hopes on Henry's leadership to steer them to victory through the league. Henry quickly commands their respect and embodies all the great qualities of the game of cricket - sportsmanship, good manners and fair play. He certainly has his hands full leading a cricket team comprised of some wonderful eccentrics. But as the story progresses, Henry has to negotiate more sinister challenges from the criminal underworld. Against a gloriously exotic backdrop, the author spins an entertaining story full of old world charm with a lovable protagonist at its heart. Great fun!

by Lisa Allen (NetGalley)

Wodehouse meets Tom Sharpe, a triumph

by Damian Thornton

I am not a cricket fan and have never been to the Seychelles, so I was rather sceptical when this book was recommended to me as a good read. I did not expect to enjoy it, but I did, which is a lesson in stepping outside the normal boundaries of experience. The protagonist, Henry Fanshawe is a likable and well-drawn character, a cricket fanatic and someone who is rather good at his job. On that note, it must also be said that the other main characters are similarly handled. The author evidently draws on deep wells of experience to detail Henry’s doings in the world of finance; and also for how things are in the Seychelles. The descriptions are so well done, and so informed that I could see them in my mind’s eye, which is always a sound indicator for good writing.

Without giving too much away, Henry encounters villainy and corruption, and as is the case with most people, is helpless, at least at first, in the face of them. How he deals with the challenges he faces is handled in a style rather reminiscent of PG Wodehouse; it is light, entertaining and I consider it to be a rather good book to take on holiday to sit under a beach umbrella with. Its strength lies very much in the fact that I wanted to go on reading and see how things turned out; and that has surely to be the gold standard for a well-written book. I recommend it as a good and enjoyable read.

by Amazon review

As a cricket fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the wit and banter contained in this novel by Robert Rees, which tracks the ultimate dream outcome to every City worker’s most dreaded scenario.
However, I believe anyone, whether interested in cricket or not, would take much from the high-quality writing, an entertaining plot, excellent characterisation, and vivid settings which Rees deploys in this book.

The protagonist, Henry Fanshawe, is fired in a contrived, typically nasty, financial scandal at the London investment bank where he works, and for which he is made the scapegoat.
The silver lining is his next role, running a cricket club in the Seychelles, filled with highly eccentric but lovable characters such as Curtley the dope-smoking quick bowler and Mathilde the shapely French-speaking number five batswoman with a nice line in innuendo.

Fanshawe proves himself (almost) a match for his new teammates, as well as some of the Seychelles underworld, such as Khaaliya Chowdrey, match-fixing owner of rival team the Chowdrey Steamers.

Pleasingly, in an age where the dark shadow of corruption has hung heavy over some quarters of international cricket, Henry also emerges as a stout defender of the spirit and traditions of the game itself.

This novel comes thoroughly recommended as a feast of escapism for those suffering a daily commute to and from the City, and the perfect read for summer evenings—whether or not it’s possible to hear the sound of bat on ball on a distant village green.

by Amazon review

A pleasant surprise! Written very much in the style of an old-fashioned British country mystery, this actually takes place in current time and moves rapidly from the stuffy rooms of the City of London to the sunnier, more colorful--but no less complex--Seychelles islands. Features new, fun and interesting characters. Very heavy on the cricket--which may be a bit tough on most American readers--but you don't need to understand the game to root for the local club--and the good guys--to win. I wish I had a rich aunt who'd leave me a beautiful home on a tropical island! I'd definitely read more of this series, and see what happens next.

by Colored Ink

What a delightful read this book is, with something of a timeless feel: a light-hearted crime tale that combines some fun characters in an exotic place, with more than a spot or two of cricket.

I wasn't quite sure what to think when I started the book, but found myself smiling throughout what turned into a one-sitting read. A lovely palate cleanser from some of the much darker and award-nominated crime tales I've been reading lately. There's a really pleasant 'lightness' to this book, even among some violence and nefarious deeds sprinkled throughout the cricket.

In a way, Robert Rees has captured that sense of village cricket known throughout the British Commonwealth - a leisurely feel with moments of intense action, a sunny, summery vibe. Seriousness and hilarity (absurdity?) all rolled into one as eager amateurs battle it out on the field.

Henry Fanshawe is a commodities broker on the spice desk for what was once a family business (now owned by 'the Americans'). In his fifties, he's well-liked by almost all of his colleagues. But not by all, and this proves his downfall: having cross swords repeatedly with the head of HR, Henry finds himself out on his ear, wrongly accused of skimming profits. His beloved wife having passed away years before, and now his longtime career hitting a brick wall, Henry isn't quite sure what to do.

The clouds have a silver lining though, thanks to the unfortunate passing of Henry's eccentric aunt Esme, a colourful character who'd occasionally visited Henry in London, from her home in the Seychelles. Henry is bequeathed Aunt Esme's property and more, on the condition he continues what she's started with her local club, a village cricket club on the African island. Henry loves his cricket (he was a useful left arm spinner at lower levels), so is delighted by the unexpected opportunity, even as he struggles to adjust to tropical heat and different ways of doing things on the islands.

A Season in the Sun tracks the exploits of Henry and his colourful assortment of players as they battle for glory in the local cricket competition, up against other village teams and corporate clubs with the odd professional ring-in. A season that gets more complicated when some unusual results crop up, and the eyes of Indian betting syndicates seem to have turned their way to the competition.

I grew up playing cricket for many summer seasons in New Zealand, and enjoyed the way Rees entwined the game with a fish-out-of-water tale that was part mystery, part farce.

I think both fans of light-hearted mysteries and fellow cricket-lovers will enjoy A Season in the Sun (even if it could have used a stronger edit - there are a handful of inconsistencies in description or scoring in some of the games, eg a team being five down, losing two wickets , then only being six rather than seven down etc - this may not bother non-fans, but 'pings' for those who know the game). There is a fun cast of characters, from the pot-smoking fast bowler, the village reverend and his Catholic counterpart, to the mirrored-shades wearing Chief of Police wicketkeeper. The nefarious deeds of the betting syndicates provide some threat, but the tale always has a light-hearted feel.

This is the kind of book that, like watching a lower-grade cricket game with a drink in hand on a summer evening, you can just sit back and enjoy for what it is, rather than thinking too much. Taking in the atmosphere, the mix of action and a leisurely vibe, curious about what might unfold from the players on the field but loving the experience more than desperately invested in a particular result.

I wouldn't mind seeing another instalment in the cricketing adventures of Henry Fanshawe.

by Craig Sisterson

As someone who is not a fan of cricket, I was slightly concerned about whether this was the book for me. I shouldn't have worried. This is a fantastic page-turner. It contains wonderfully vivid descriptions of the characters and surroundings. As you read, you become fully immersed in their world - their relationships and the clever story that weaves its way through the book. I looked forward to reading it each night and really missed it after I had turned the last page. It was absolutely brilliant - time for a sequel? (please!)

by Charlotte Knapper

Robert Rees

Robert was born in Berkshire and attended Eton College and Trinity Cambridge before pursuing a career in the City of London. After retiring from the City in 2007, Robert divides his time between his house in Kent and Provence writing music, novels, and plays.

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