Title: The Stars’ Tennis Balls
Author: Stephen Fry
Page Count/Review Word Count: 371
I often find Fry’s writing to be hit and miss, as is evidenced by my previous reviews of his work – The Stars’ Tennis Balls, however, is definitely a hit, and it’s game, set and match for the closest thing to a literary magnum opus that Fry will ever own.
The novel tells the story of young Ned Maddstone, the kind of guy who doesn’t have a care in the world – he’s in love with a beautiful girl called Portia and she’s in love with him, and he’s doing well at his private school. His family isn’t short of money, and he excels at pretty much anything he focuses his attention on.
Unfortunately, jealousy is a dangerous thing, as Ned finds out when his so-called ‘friends’ play a practical joke on him, a joke which completely changes Ned’s life. I don’t want to go in to too much detail and risk ruining the plot, but suffice to say that he disappears for a while, and returns many years later in what can only be described as ‘quite a foul mood’.
And it’s great to see Fry at his best – his writing is witty and erudite, and the plot pulses and pushes you along throughout. It starts semi-slowly, but it’s not a huge problem because it gathers momentum throughout until you’re flying through the final pages. It’s not quite the kind of novel that leaves you feeling melancholy at the end because you want to read more of it, but it’s not far off it either.
It’s also interesting to note that The Stars’ Tennis Balls is not a comedy, despite its author’s proven abundance of talent in the area. Here, Fry shows his true potential as a writer, and you can tell that the author is having just as much fun with his words as you are. I’ve read quite a few of Fry’s novels now, and I recommend that you start here – if you like it, which I’m sure you will, then you can move on to Making History when you’ve finished. Let me know what you think.