The Consibrough Chronicles is an economic, political and social history of Britain, presented as the tale of one dynasty from 1016 to now, in a series of linked short chapters. The chapter titles are themselves a parody on aspects and examples of British literary culture. Traditional industries like treacle mining and brewing run through the book providing an economic base to the family fortunes In contrast to the lead characters there is an underclass of Sprots who appear frequently, but in most cases contribute little. They seem to be based on Chavs. The professional classes; bankers, accountants, lawyers are also prominent in the story. They do a lot, mainly for their own good. Various descendants of the original family are credited with useful deeds and inventions of historical figures which is a convenient way of adding ideas to the narrative so they can be commented on. As the story nears its end recent political ideas and actions come in for comment, particularly the running of the railways. In a way the final sections of the book reads, and this may be intentional, more seriously than the earlier parts. Many of the characters we meet are based on people know to the author and their various characteristics and abilities are found in many of the characters in the book. In this the narrative has some of the style of Alice in Wonderland in which many of the characters are based on real people. But here the people are more scattered than Carroll’s Oxford colleagues, and less well known, so most readers may have no idea who we are. But they will probably be able to fit people they know to the characters, as in a soap opera or a comedy of manners. The story also has something of Monty Python where strange people doing silly things make very clear important critical points. Twit of the Year comes to mind. Conisbrough Chronicles maybe not be quite up to the brilliant standard of these models but it is a fun read, which makes a lot of important points. And it is the commentary on the events that is the value of this book. If Umberto Conisbrough had made a walk on part in this story he might have written a review on the semiotics of the chronical. He did not. So this review is by Johann Bibliotheker, brewer’s assistant, and owner of even more neckties than Mc Mullen Country suggests.
by John Goodier