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Mr. Toppit: 02/23/15

cover art

Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton is about the fallout of being the inspiration for a famous fictional character. Loosely based on the life of Christopher Milne and his fictional counterpart in the Winnie the Pooh books, this book follows the life and times of Luke Hayman after the death of his author father and the ways in which he can't escape being compared to his father's creation, Luke Hayseed.

The book is told from multiple points of view, namely, Luke, an American who brings the Hayseed books to California (and inadvertently makes them world famous), Luke's troubled sister who wants to know why she was never included in the books. The events of Luke's life and the explosion of his alter ego's rise in fame come out of order, though there is somewhat of a progression forward in time. This mixture of points of view and moments in time make for an unnecessarily confusing narrative.

When I read the book, I was unaware of the author's work with the Milne estate but the similarity to Christopher Milne's life is unmistakable. That said, knowing now about that connection, I find myself less pleased with the added drama (namely Arthur's violent death and the American making posthumous fame possible). These elements don't ring true and in light of the source material, there is already enough there to make a compelling character study while still being fictional.

Recommended by Metroreader

For further reading

  • The Independent (Christopher Milne's obituary)
  • USA Today
  • Wikipedia (A.A. Milne)

    Two stars

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