I had very high hopes for Awful Auntie. Of course I am a great David Walliams fan. I've read nearly all of his books in a little over a year (I've just got Demon Dentist to go now). So of course I was excited to see Awful Auntie hit the shelves recently. And then I saw this article in The Guardian, where Philip Aardagh proclaimed Awful Auntie the best Walliams book yet. It had to be read. And soon.
Awful Auntie is a little different to David Walliams' other books. For starters, it is a historical novel set in 1932. All his other books have been modern, and all the kids have frequented Raj's newsagent. Here, we have recently orphaned Stella Saxby, the sole heir to Saxby Hall. Stella lives in Saxby Hall with her awful Aunt Alberta and the deliciously confused butler Gibbon.
Aunt Aberta is quite the owl fancier, and her constant companion is Wagner, her Great Bavarian Mountain Owl. Aunt Alberta wants nothing more than to take control of Saxby Hall and become Lady Saxby. And she does like dessert.
She never had a main course. Or a starter. No, Aunt Alberta went straight to the pudding. She would scoff desserts for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which was why she was as wide as she was tall.
Aunt Alberta makes an excellent villain, and Awful Auntie is a typical, fun Walliams read. Full of his trademark lists and humour, and still with the poignant heart.
"Ya wanted naffing more than to be older, but bein' a child is such a special fing. When yer a child, ya can see all the magic in the world."
No wonder Awful Auntie was Britain's bestselling children's fiction book for 2014. Though Billionaire Boy remains my favourite Walliams read. I was delighted to see, and perhaps a little bit surprised, that David cited Miriam Margoyles as his real life inspiration for Awful Auntie! Cheeky boy. I can't find a book trailer, but you can hear David Walliams read the opening of Awful Auntie here.