The Gentleman, by Forrest Leo, is a fun novel, creative and entertaining. In it, Lionel Strange, a fair-to-middling poet brimming with unearned self-confidence finds himself without enough money to keep the life to which he has become accustomed. To solve this problem he marries the beautiful and wealth Vivien Lancaster. Once married, he finds himself uninspired to write, and attributes this to Vivien’s dullness.
Through a twist of fate (or plot), the Gentleman, AKA the Devil, finds himself in Strange’s library. Vivien turns up missing immediately afterwards, and Strange calculates that he accidentally sold her to the Devil in exchange for getting his muse back. The rest of the novel details Strange’s attempts to get Vivien back, along with an intrepid explorer, his feisty sister, and an inventor/aviator.
The book is light hearted, despite the presence of the Devil and the looming journey to Hell. It reminds me vaguely of Johannes Cabal, though the Cabal novels are much denser and substantive. It is sort of a Cabal-lite.
To me, the most entertaining part of the book is the footnotes, allegedly written by a cousin of Vivien’s, who found himself in charge of publishing Strange’s account of the activities therein. The editorial comments contained in the footnotes are very funny.
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