Tuesday, 10 January 1995


Fiction ~ novel
Published 1923
Approx. 116,000 words
(First read 10/01/1995)

Colin tells the everyday story of the Stanier family, of Stanier, near Rye, in the County of Sussex.  The first section recounts their history from around 1600, when the first Colin Stanier made a Faustian pact with the Devil, to 1900, when our hero the latest Colin is born.  At the start of the second section guess how many years have passed ...  I don't need to spell it out, do I?  Well, inevitably Colin is, on the outside, EFB Type A ~ blond hair, dazzlingly beautiful, wonderfully charming, etc.  Unfortunately, on the inside he's a psychopath¹.
Now it has ere been a Stanier family failing ~ amongst others (psychopathy, alcoholism, misogyny ...) ~ that they're all plain addicted to their family seat, built by the first Colin.  [My apologies, folks ~ I'm going to have to cut this one short, I'm afraid: I'm suffering from acute writer's block over it.]  The remainder of the book deals with Colin's attempts to secure the house for himself, despite his not being entitled to it ~ he has an older twin.
In some respects Colin is actually quite good; in others it suffers from all the customary Bensonian defects.  Among the latter are: the absurdity of the plot; too much repetition and recapping; and the absurdity of the plot.  [Joke.]  Its strengths ~ and these are very rare strengths for EFB books ~ are that the author has wholeheartedly let
rip with Colin Stanier, thrown himself into the character², with the result that, preposterous though he is, he is at least consistent and believable; and, preposterous though the plot might be, it's strangely compelling: I actually put it down eager to read the sequel, for which see Colin II.

¹ Benson never actually uses the term, despite its having been around for nearly 30 years at the time of his writing Colin.
² To the best of my recollection, Benson never actually condemns Colin: he merely tells us what he thinks and describes what he does.  His attitude toward the character is, at best, uncommitted. 

A reasonable explanation for many young men of the present day is here provided: Their ancestors sold their souls to the devil and the paper, discounted three centuries ago, has just come due.
~The Bookman's Guide to Fiction, 11/1923

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