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Extended Audio Sample Mr. Toppit, by Charles Elton Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (842 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles Elton Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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“And out of the Darkwood Mr. Toppit comes, and he comes not for you, or for me, but for all of us.”

When the Hayseed Chronicles, an obscure series of children’s books, becomes world famous, millions of readers debate the significance of that enigmatic last line and of the shadowy figure, Mr. Toppit, who dominates the books. The author, Arthur Hayman, an unsuccessful screenwriter mown down by a concrete truck in Soho, never reaps the benefits of the books’ success. The legacy passes to his widow, Martha, and her children—the fragile Rachel, and Luke, reluctantly immortalized as Luke Hayseed, the central character of his father’s books. But others want their share, particularly Laurie, the overweight stranger from California who comforted Arthur as he lay dying and has a mysterious agenda of her own that will change all their lives, for buried deep in the books lie secrets which threaten to be revealed as the family begins to crumble under the heavy burden of their inheritance.

Spanning several decades, from the heyday of the British film industry after the war to the cut-throat world of show business in Los Angeles, Mr. Toppit is a riveting tale of the unexpected effects of sudden fame and fortune. Not since Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up! has a novel managed to capture a family and a society to such wonderfully funny and painful effect.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Mr. Toppit is a darkly comic, thoroughly engaging narrative about a successful writer and the complicated legacy he leaves to his wife and children, and to the world at large. Charles Elton’s witty and unsettling debut novel explores the emotional turmoil that results when a family's private history gets transformed into public myth.”

    Tom Perrotta, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Skillfully written and oddly haunting.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Witty, engrossing, moving…One hot mess of a family romance.”

    Times (London)

  • “A cracker. Elton has an arch wit, and engaging style and a sense of invention that recalls Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up!...You are gripped.”

    Evening Standard (London)

  • “An extraordinary debut…Dark, funny…jangly with secrets.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “A mystery tale of quiet torment.”

    Sunday Telegraph (London)

  • “Painfully funny.”

    Marie Claire

  • “Dark, hilarious, and cruelly honest, Mr. Toppit exposes some uncomfortable truths about the English and American mindsets, and the effect of celebrity on private lives. A truly smashing debut novel.”

    Christopher Fowler, award-winning English thriller writer 

  • “Elton’s sense of character and personality is astounding, and he captures each important detail on the page…Elton’s writing style is charmingly British, well-executed and all-around pleasing to both the eye and ear. Bottom line: At times laugh-out-loud funny and other times truly heartbreaking, Mr. Toppit captures the power of books on its pages…Personally, I'm excited to see more from Charles Elton, and can only hope his sophomore novel comes soon—and lives up to expectations.”

    Entomology of a Bookworm

  • “In this excellent debut, Elton tells the story of a complicated family stretched to its limits by sudden fame and unexpected acquaintances…Elton skillfully weaves together postwar England and a terrifyingly modern LA, as well as the hopes and disappointments of frustrated mothers, neglected children, and clandestine lovers. While beautifully written and graced with a unique story line, it is Elton’s characters who drive the novel and give it a depth uncommon in debuts.”

    Publishers Weekly(starred review)

  • “Simon Vance’s selections for distinct character voices make Elton’s sometimes-complicated novel quite accessible…Vance executes strong accents as needed but also uses reserved but effective tones for the range characters. He’s careful not to exaggerate voices, such as that of the sister who ends up in the mental ward. Rather, he reads them straight, and that works well.”


  • “British reader Simon Vance does an admirable job…and listeners will be caught spellbound waiting for the unlikely events to unfold.”


  • “[In] Charles Elton’s funny, strange, and often surprisingly insightful debut…the siblings confront the mess their father—the true Mr. Toppit, some might say—has left for them, and in turn confront larger issues of family and obligation, celebrity and privacy, and the vast gulf between British and American sensibilities. From the comically bland sitting rooms of middle-class England to the boozy shenanigans of modern-day Los Angeles, Mr. Toppit shows the effects of legacy on its inheritors, while at the same time exploring the way in which we use fantasy worlds to better understand our own.”


  • Selected for the November 2010 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Kate Murphy | 2/15/2014

    " I quite enjoyed this book, in particular the literary world it is set in. It left me feeling quite sad though - the ending was probably predictable to the characters but I didn't really see it coming and thought it was written very movingly. Well worth a read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Robin | 2/15/2014

    " What a great idea for a book! The British author of a dark children's series is killed right at the beginning of the book. The rest of the book is about his family and an American bystander who is with him at the accident site. Who's Mr. Toppit? Read it to find out. I thought it was fun. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Susan Wingate | 2/13/2014

    " OMG! This is a fabulous read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Bonnie Parent | 2/2/2014

    " I struggled to get through this book. I thought the premise was so fascinating, but just couldn't get into it. "

  • > Show All
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About the Author
Author Charles Elton

Charles Elton worked as a designer and editor in publishing before becoming a director of the literary agency Curtis Brown. Since 1991 he has worked in television and has been executive producer in drama at ITV since 2000. Among his productions are The Railway Children, the Oscar-nominated short Syrup, Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Northanger Abbey, and the recent series Time of Your Life.