Retired pianist Barney Barrington and dodgy dealer Jasper Jellit have two things in common – they are both millionaires, and they both live in the unremarkable town of Woodford. That’s where the similarity ends. Quiet and shy Barney spends most of his time at home, where he can hide from the local newspaper photographers, but Jasper just loves being in the limelight and throws extravagant parties to make sure his face is always on the front page.
This amusing story is well written and moves along at a brisk pace. The differing values of its two main characters are nicely juxtaposed throughout, and in the end Barney’s kindness and loyalty are rewarded while Jasper’s greed and meanness lead to his downfall. Apart from the slightly bizarre and unnecessary arrival of a Japanese girlfriend for Barney in the penultimate chapter, this is a well thought out and entertaining book. Deirdre Madden is an Irish novelist and Snakes’ Elbows is her first book for children.