SUMMARY The Stars' Tennis Balls 107

Stephen Fry Ë 7 SUMMARY

We are merely the stars' tennis balls struck and bandiedWhich way please them The Duchess of Malfi by John WebsterEverything about Stephen Fry's new novel including the title will be a surprise The Stars' Epubperhaps even a shock The only thing that can be guaranteed is that it will be his next earth movingly funny bestseller And we are still pretty confidently saying it will not be about earthworm migration patterns in East DevonThis is the story of Ned Maddenstone a nice young man who is about to. At the outset this is late twentieth century rendering of The Count of Monte Cristo If you don t know that story please don t read on any further it will be spoiler ridden and maybe you are from another planetWe all know what happens in The Count of Monte Cristo Edmond Dant s first mate of the ship Pharaon who has recently been granted the succession of his captain Lecl re is trapped in a false intrigue by a group of people jealous of him for various reasons The deputy crown prosecutor of Marseille finding that his own father is really implicated in the treason sacrifices Dant s to imprisonment without trial in the island prison of Ch teau d If He learns of a fortune on the isle of Monte Cristo from another prisoner there and claims it after making good his escape Returning as a rich man he extracts revenge on all his enemies in exemplary fashionWhat Stephen Fry has done is transport this story to the end of the last century Here the protagonist is Ned Maddstone the handsome and talented son of conservative MP Sir Charles Maddstone He is madly in love with Portia Fendeman who is the daughter of leftist Jews Peter and Hillary who don t approve of the union Portia s cousin Gordon madly in love with her himself also disapproves of it The other people who hate Ned are his classmates Ashley Barson Garland employed as Sir Charles s secretary and the junkie Rufus Cade because they are jealous of his privilegesThey decide to get him busted for drug pushing by planting weed in his overcoat pocket But the prank misfires as Ned is also carrying a missive from the captain of the sailboat he was sailing on during his vacation an instruction to the IRA for planting bombs The secret service man who interrogates him Oliver Delft rightly identifies him as an innocent victim but finds out to his horror that his mother is the intended recipient To protect himself Delft has Ned committed to a lunatic asylum on a Nordic Island which the secret service uses to bury troublesome prisonersOn the island Ned lives a life of uiet despair and is on the verge of losing his sanity when he meets Babe another political prisoner This proves to be turning point in his life With Babe s help Ned becomes a changed person Like the original Count of Monte Cristo he manages to escape and amass a fortune What remains is the triumphant return and revengeStephen Fry has managed the astonishing feat of staying as close to the original as possible while transporting the whole story to the current era When Ned goes to the asylum in 1980 there are still no mobile phones or internet lovers still write letters on paper and post them in envelops USA and USSR are engaged in a cold war which it seems will never end When he comes out in 1999 we are in the midst of the dotcom revolution and communism is a distant memory The changes of the tumultuous two decades are woven seamlessly into the tale The only thing which has not changed it seems is the duplicity of politicians and human greed The author manages to shower trenchant criticism on British society politics and the fruits of the neoliberalist philosophies which ruled the roost in the late nineties and the early twenty first century while not losing the central thread of this gripping revenge taleAn enjoyable read though not a great work of literature Fry s language is a treat though

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The Stars' Tennis Balls

Jealous spite And spite is about to change Ned's life forever  A promise made to a dying teacher and a vile trick played by fellow pupils rocket Ned from cricket captain to solitary confinement from head boy to political prisoner Twenty years later Ned returns to London a very different man from the boy seized outside a Knightsbridge language college  A man implacably focused on revenge Revenge is a dish he plans to savour and serve to those who conspired against him and to those who forgot him. Revenge is a modern re telling of The Count of Monte Cristo It is very well done because Fry manages to take the elements of Dumas novel that take the most suspension of disbelief and make them believable in a modern setting It s a clever twist on an old story with updated methods of revenge and a clever twist on the old characters With puns The character of the Count s finance is changed from Mercedes to Portia hee It s suspenseful as well a major feat considering that I not only knew the ending but had just read the original a month agoWhile the book does an excellent job in making the story plausible than Dumas version the modern retelling also highlights the central problem with the book That is that while revenge is satisfying to read about it is not a particularly healthy way to live one s life or the best way to solve problems While Dumas unreservedly encourages the reader to root for the Count s plan Fry s tale is much morally ambiguous His Count here named Ned has everything a man could want riches smarts and fame Is what happened to him early on that bad that he should ruin these lesser mens lives Particularly since his early experience is what led him to have these great things Fry stacks the deck a bit toward ambiguity in his story three of the four men upon whom revenge is sought were not really seeking to ruin Ned s life just to humiliate him a bit and it all went miserably wrong In the Dumas original all the men were seriously trying to ruin Dantes so it was satisfying when they were destroyed Here Fry presses harder on the uestion of whether Ned s cause is a worthy one Leaving the reader with a clever action packed book that asks some serious uestions about life What could you wantOn a side note Fry a British author is probably best known as an actor He s been in many many movies and is probably best known in America at least as Jeeves in the most recent adaptations of Wodehouse novels which are absolutely awesome I ve read two of his other books which while strictly comedic are fun too

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Find out just what hell it is to be one of the stars' tennis balls  For Ned seems a blissful year handsome popular responsible and a fine cricketer life is progressing smoothly for him if not effortlessly When he meets Portia Fendeman his personal jigsaw appears complete What if her left wing parents despise his Tory MP father Doesn't that just make them star crossed lovers And surely in the end won't the Fendemans be won over by their happiness  But of course one person's happiness is another's. With The Stars Tennis Balls Stephen Fry gives us a kind of modern retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo with a comedic twist and highly entertaining it is tooIf I had one criticism it would be that he occasionally slips a little too close to a somewhat adolescent revenge fantasy but that s a minor uibble at most don t let it put you off


10 thoughts on “The Stars' Tennis Balls

  1. says:

    At the outset this is late twentieth century rendering of The Count of Monte Cristo If you don't know that story please don't read o

  2. says:

    My students seem at times to be wholly obsessed with “getting back” at people who have done them wrong I try to calm them down to refocus them on positive things but the truth is when you want to get revenge you are completely an

  3. says:

    Ooo this had so much promise at the beginning I got so excited when I saw it at the library and got it home I've enjoyed Fry's other novels so much and this one started so interesting between the diary and the love letter and then fell into this straight narrative style that not only was conventional but it seemed that Fry stopped trying T

  4. says:

    With The Stars’ Tennis Balls Stephen Fry gives us a kind of modern retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo with a comedic twist and highly entertaining it is tooIf I had one criticism it would be that he occasionally slips a little too close

  5. says:

    When Alexandre Dumas wrote The Count of Monte Cristo in 1844 he almost certainly did not have thirteen year old American boys in mind as his prime audience But when I first read the classic in the summer of 1963 I knew for certain that I too was living the horror of Edmond Dantes life Dantes a good and innocent man was cruelly implicated in treason by three friends who envied Dantes’ pending ship captaincy and marriage to the

  6. says:

    Stephen Fry's book Stars Tennis Balls aka Revenge was possibly one of the best books i have ever readThe story's incorporation of a si

  7. says:

    Revenge is a modern re telling of The Count of Monte Cristo It is very well done because Fry manages to take the elements of Dumas’ novel that take the most suspension of disbelief and make them believable in a modern setting It

  8. says:

    A modern update of the Count of Monte Cristo revenge tale set in England between 1980 and the present day A well written thriller good for a pleasant diversionary read Starts off with a very compelling set up as t

  9. says:

    since the beginning of this project I have projected Stephen Fry as my choice of english author ah this book reminded me why I don't read blurbs I did not realize until 200 pages into the book that I was reading a retelling of the count of monte cristo yes I realize I should have realized sooner but I saw the movie once in a theater almost 8 years ago and the book is very different from the movie a lot of which I know of and wa

  10. says:

    I need to catch up on my Stephen Fry I mean aside from my marathon sessions of watching I episodes on youtube a shout out here to Nickfromfulham for posting them all I read The Liar and The Hippopotamus many years ago and found them both to be brilliant; I read his memoir Moab is My Washpot and was less favorably impressed This reworked Count of Monte Cristo story falls somewhere in between Of course the writing is excellent the erudition

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