Jenny Clark is what we would call a Page-3 reporter in India, somebody who covers parties thrown by the frivolous rich, adds spice and gossip, and hints at scandals. When the novel opens, she is in the doldrums having been jilted by her lover. A throw-away remark by a colleague as to what would be her specifications for an ideal lover makes Jenny not only imagine a man -who is witty, smart, sophisticated, handsome, and fond of P.G. Wodehouse and James Thurber – but also feature him in her gossip columns. She has no idea that the man- whom she names Simon Sherborne – will become the talk of the town and all the women will be dying to invite him to their parties.
“Track him down. If he’s anything like you make him out to be, he could stir up some fun among those corrupt innocents of yours. Somebody,” said Chris hopefully, “might get hurt.”
Things become rough for Jenny when her editor demands a photo of the mysterious Mr. Sherborne and instructs her to take a camera man along to the next social event she covers. Jenny begins to think of taking on a new job or moving back to her parents when at the party a man comes over to her and introduces himself:
She turned. The man from the saleroom was standing above her — six inches above her, that widow’s peak, she estimated…
The man smiled a slow, broad smile and held out his hand. As she took it she said quietly, to help him: “Actually I’m Jenny Clark.”
“Ah, yes. My best press officer.”
“I’m Simon Sherborne,” he said.
But unlike the lover whom Jenny had conjured up for herself, this man is more interested in an heiress, Annabel Wager, and pressurizes Jenny to introduce him to her. What game is he playing and how far will Jenny go to keep up the charade?
The novel begins well but soon meanders into forgery, fraud, inheritance issues and loses its way.
Still it was nice to read a novel where there are no mobile phones, where people are not texting or taking selfies of themselves 24/7, and where it is really difficult to contact a person and one has to search for call-phones which have now virtually disappeared.
Also there was this line which I absolutely loved:
She was surprised he didn’t present her with a shorthand pad and four newly sharpened pencils and ask her to take detailed notes of what the police had to say.
It brought back my growing-up years when I’d see college-going bhaiyas and didis with the pads, the yellow-black striped sharp pencils, and Pittman’s Shorthand instructor earnestly trying to improve their skills and earn a diploma in shorthand while getting a college degree as it’d give them an edge in their application for government jobs. When I reached college, however, the shorthand colleges and typing schools were all on their last legs and soon were to close shop forever…
First Line: Jenny Clark invented Simon Sherborne one rainy evening in late April.
First Published: 1967
Other books read of the same author: None
Submitted for Friday’s Forgotten Books @ Pattinase. Please head over there for the other entries.
6 thoughts on “Forgotten Book: Gossip to the Grave by John Burke”
It does sound as though this one's entertaining, Neeru, even if it does meander a bit. And it's an interesting premise.
This sounds like it could be interesting but confusing. I too like books written back when technology was not so prevalent.
Some things and people are never forgotten. Our wishes are always with them.
Yes, Margot, it has its moments.
Welcome back, Tracy. No, it's not confusing but could have been a better book since the premise was so interesting.
Forgotten????!!!!!!!! They are there with us every moment of the day. Our wishes are also with them, today and always.