The Woman, the Mink, the Cod and the Donkey by Margerie Swash – an affectionate parody with its own cheeky humour

Scarf next to a copy of The Woman, the Mink, the Cod and the Donkey with a plate of biscuits

The Woman, the Mink, the Cod and the Donkey by Margerie Swash

This book is subtitled “An Affectionate Parody”, and it would be difficult to deny that it does take its inspiration from a certain bestseller which is generally labeled as a “book of hope”. There is hope, searching and more in this one, but it is also a bit more realistic as Emanuel Santos has captured the essence of the drawings from the original, and added a few spots of ink and wine glass stains for good measure. This book is about a woman who is in search of an open pub in a time of lockdown. It is funny in its own right, which I can definitely assert not having read the original, and I think has its own charm and points to make. Another comment is that “She was looking for wine. Instead she found friendship”, which I think is not a bad maxim for anytime, let alone the interesting times in which we live. I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this charming and somehow insightful book.

Set in the “strange, sad region of yesteryear called ‘lockdown”, the author hopes that it will “make you smile” whenever you read it, because it involves wine, and a certain amount of love. The humour is gentle – never criticising or poking fun at the original, but posing a parallel situation or two. The woman is after wine, but that is not her only quest – she welcomes the odd group of companions so much that even when she does get wine, courtesy of a talkative and otherwise rejected mink, she says “there is something missing”. The odd assortment of travellers include a donkey, who is the noisiest of creatures with his constant “he haws”, but who never actually says anything interesting or remotely useful: “The irony. We all know a donkey”. The party travels far, with many questions ranging from “would you rather be famous or rich?” to “Are we there yet?”. Unusual travelling requirements are met, and yet the search goes on.

This is undoubtedly a charming little book which gently suggests an alternative set of images in a now familiar style. I enjoyed its humour, and it certainly made me smile on a tricky day. I enjoyed its clever and knowing style, and the illustrations are gently funny (such as when three of them are pointing the way in unison). Yes, it is a parody, but it has much more going for it as a cheeky book in its own right. I recommend it as a cheerful book for tricky, and not so tricky, times.