The Bloater

The brilliantly original rediscovered classic comedy of manners

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Pub Date 5 May 2022 | Archive Date 4 Jun 2022

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'Should The Bloater be republished? Oh God, absolutely, it's fantastic' Stewart Lee

Min works at the BBC as an audio engineer, where she is struggling to replicate the sound of a heartbeat. At home, other matters of the heart are making a mockery of life as Min knows it.

Min has found herself the object of her lodger's affection. An internationally renowned opera singer she's nicknamed 'The Bloater', Min is disgusted and attracted to him in equal measure. But with a husband so invisible that she accidentally turns the lights off on him even when he's still in the room, Min can't quite bring herself to silence The Bloater's overtures.

Vain, materialistic, yet surprisingly tender, The Bloater is a sparklingly ironic comedy of manners for all flirtatious gossips who love to hate and hate to love.


'A wonderfully unromantic romantic comedy' Daily Telegraph

'Uncommonly good' Guardian

'It is the perfect aperitif, makes you feel warm and careless and much, much happier' The Times


'Should The Bloater be republished? Oh God, absolutely, it's fantastic' Stewart Lee

Min works at the BBC as an audio engineer, where she is struggling to...

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ISBN 9781784877804
PRICE £8.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

Caustic Whirl Of Wit…
With a caustic whirl of wit comes The Bloater, a comedy of manners if you like, which stands the test of time. Sparklingly well drawn characters populate a ridiculously gossipy and fluffy plot which is both compelling and entertaining. Hugely enjoyable.

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Min is shallow and self obsessed but she revels in it. She spends her working life as a BBC sound engineer trying to create authentic sounds and her free time gossiping with friends and being entertained by the Bloater a renowned opera singer. Min’s husband George sits firmly in the background while the Bloater pursues her.

I loved the caustic wit and bad behaviour from Min and would be first in line for a gossip with her. The book brings the social whirl to life and draws you in. Well worth a dip into for the sparkling writing.

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I’m so glad I read this. Rosemary Tonks’ novel is truly original although if I had to say if it reminded me of anyone else I would say Muriel Spark.. Dreadful yet sympathetic Min, the narrator is a great voice to take us through the agonies of attraction and repulsion, the ridiculousness of love and sex. She has several men in her life, not least the Bloater who she is attracted to but doesn’t actually like. She is married to George but he is not a commanding presence (Min once turned off the kitchen light and shut up for the night as he was still eating dinner). Can Min find her way through the conflicting feelings into something like love? If I found it funny and disarmingly touching.

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Thanks to avid pursuers of this book through inter-library loans and, perhaps, the Backlisted podcast, this has become a Penguin vintage classic.

I found it as unsettling as Rosemary Tonks’ own life, but also funny, vibrant and compelling. The characters are both domestic and somewhat gothic. It seems as fresh today as when it was written, and I suspect it will never date, like real classics. Well done Penguin. And Backlisted.

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