The Making of Mr Bolsover by Cornelius Medvei - review by Philip Womack

Philip Womack

Lynch Mob

The Making of Mr Bolsover


Harvill Secker 196pp £12.99

This curious novel, Cornelius Medvei’s third, purports to be a political biography detailing the life of Mr Bolsover, a man who has ‘passed into folklore’, who either died in a ‘hail of bullets’ or ‘fled to Panama’. We are led to believe, by the dry voice of the ‘biographer’, that he was a man of consequence. Nothing, however, is straightforward; as the biographer (ungendered, unnamed, although there is the slightest of hints that it might be a woman) warns, the most forthcoming witnesses are also the ‘least credible’. The book is an exploration of how myths are engendered as much as it is a whimsical satire of political ambition, and it is also very much in love with the Sussex countryside that it so beautifully evokes.

The Making of Mr Bolsover has much in common with Magnus Mills’s well-
controlled yet fantastical fables: assured, precise prose; less attention paid to characters than to the game of obfuscation; and a sense of distinct unease and bureaucratic menace. The narrative is at two removes. Not only is there the

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