Skip to main content

Paradise Postponed

By February 19, 2023Book Reviews

John Mortimer’s masterful novel, Paradise Postponed, charts the sea changes in British society after World War II

My reading list for work is a teetering tower of library books on so many engrossing topics: from Queen Victoria to the Plantagenets, as well as Greenland, and John Julius Norwich’s spectacular history of Sicily, but sometimes nothing else will do but curling up with an old favorite and big mug of tea.  

This week I indulged in just that kind of luxury with a re-read (possibly we are in triple digits by now) of Paradise Postponed by John Mortimer. Mortimer’s achievements include writing the screenplay for the original television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited and, of course, creating the inimitable Rumpole of the Bailey. Paradise Postponed was also adapted for TV with a star-studded cast that included Annette Crosbie, Peter Egan, David Threlfall, Michael Hordern, Zoe Wanamaker, Colin Blakely, and Jill Bennett.

Mortimer’s genius is on full display in Paradise Postpone, which is hard to assign to just one genre. At its heart is a family saga, that of the family of a socialist vicar, Simeon Simcox and his two sons, Henry, a gifted though pretentious writer, and Fred, who is a local doctor in the town of Hartescombe. When Simeon dies, he leaves his shares in the brewery to Leslie Titmuss, a Conservative Cabinet Minister in the Thatcher government.  

Titmuss’s meteoric rise through all the social classes in Britain gives Paradise Postponed a classic “rags to riches” angle, while Fred’s search for the reasons behind his father’s inexplicable behavior presents a classic “cozy mystery” plot line. And taken all together, the novel is, as Henry explains to Fred and Leslie, “a picture of our society, from top to bottom.” Beginning in the post-war era, Paradise Postponed deftly charts the radical changes 

Alongside Henry, Fred, and Leslie, are a host of intriguing minor characters: Sir Nicholas Fanner and his difficult wife, Lady Grace, Simeon’s long-suffering wife Dorothy, the atheist Dr. Salter, from whom Fred learns his trade, and Dr. Salter’s daughter Agnes, who becomes involved with both Henry and Fred.  

Mortimer constructs his narrative in two separate timelines, weaving dexterously between the two, building the story and its secrets layer by layer, all coming together in a highly satisfying crescendo.  

If you need a break and a marvelous read, look no further than Paradise Postponed. If you are an Audible fan, try the audio version, narrated by Paul Shelley, who played Fred in the series. I’ve listened to that about 12 times… and I love it each time I do.  

Other Books By John Mortimer

Join my Newsletter Community

Get reviews and recommendations twice a month!

Enjoy More Book Reviews Like This One

Book Reviews
February 19, 2023

Paradise Postponed

John Mortimer’s most famous creation was Rumpole of the Bailey, but his subtle and deeply satisfying novel of social change, Paradise Postponed is a masterful work.
Book Reviews
February 15, 2023

A Season of Splendor: The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York

Greg King's A Season of Splendor is a nuanced and masterful account of the glittering court of Mrs. Astor during America's coming-of-age during the Gilded Age.
Book ReviewsJennifer Recommends
January 15, 2023

All Creatures Great and Small Audiobook

A review of the new audiobook version of James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small.
Book ReviewsCuisineEastern European
December 30, 2022

Pierogi: Over 50 Recipes to Create Perfect Polish Dumplings

Jennifer Eremeeva reviews Pierogi: Over 50 Recipes to Create Perfect Polish Dumplings by Zuza Zak.
Book Reviews
December 28, 2022

Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman By Lucy Worsley

Lucy Worsley’s prose is as effervescent as her bubbly on-screen persona, which adds much to this intriguing look at the elusive Agatha Christie.
Book ReviewsUncategorized
December 15, 2022

The Widow Queen: A Novel by Elżbieta Cherezińska

A review of the captivating tale of a half-forgotten Viking Queen.
Book ReviewsJennifer's Podcasts
March 8, 2022

Secrets of the Sprakkar

A discussion with Iceland's First Lady, Eliza Reid about her new book: Secrets of the Sprakkar.
Book ReviewsHistoryJennifer's Podcasts
February 5, 2022

The Memory of the Second World War

Over 75 years have passed since the end of World War II, but the collective memory of the conflict remains potently present for the people of the Russian Federation. Professor…
Book ReviewsEastern EuropeanJennifer's Podcasts
August 21, 2021

Amber & Rye: A Baltic Food Journey

A conversation with storyteller cook, Zuza Zak about her new cookbook, "Amber & Rye: A Baltic Food Journey," which explores the cuisines of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.