Annabel's House of Books

Noli domo egredi, nisi librum habes – Never leave home without a book.

Great title, great cover …

Up a Tree in the Park at Night with a Hedgehog by Paul Robert Smith

Could the second book I’ve read in the past few months to feature the word ‘hedgehog’ in the title possibly be as good as the first here?

Sadly, no – Up a Tree in the Park at Night with a Hedgehog by P. Robert Smith drew me in with its wacky title and plug by Douglas Coupland on the front cover, then when I read the blurb on the back I decided it was probably going to be great fun.

I didn’t expect it to be quite so laddish though. I should have read the first page in the bookshop which does set the tone – propriety forbids me from describing the request made by the novel’s main character of his new Korean virgin girlfriend (I am very broad-minded, just don’t need this on page one). Suffice it to say, if I’d read that far, then I would have been unlikely to buy it. It was a bit like all the other similar books about but nowhere near as intelligent as the best. It was a quick read though!

It features Benton, a thirty-six year old who has never grown up, and is sex mad and commitment-phobic. All the people around him have bizarre accidents, or die in horrid ways – their misfortunes being the only really interesting things in his life worth telling us about. I must admit, I quite enjoyed some of these bits, and did chuckle occasionally. But they are no more than vignettes interspersed with the current state of Benton’s relationships which are rocky, and far from being funny or having real depth – unlike those of Rob in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity – a book I adore.

In retrospect, the thing I most liked about the book was the cover, which if you look carefully is peopled with little figures and things around the letters of the title and tells you the entire story! **1/2

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Source: Own copy. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
Up a Tree in the Park at Night with a Hedgehog


  1. I saw this in my local shop today and picked it up because of the interesting cover. I put it down again though, unsure of how much it would be my sort of thing, and now I’m glad I did!

  2. All the comments and reviews about this book up to now haven’t been particularly endearing to me. Like you, if I’d seen this in a store I’d have thought it looked interesting and probably bought it – glad I didn’t and haven’t now!

  3. Well, I really enjoyed this book. I was also intitially attracted by the cover and the title, but I found it to be both very funny and quite affecting. Admittedly it’s not for everyone – but surely that’s a good thing.

  4. Annabel Gaskell

    March 2, 2009 at 7:49 am

    It just wasn’t quite my thing Adam. Glad you liked it.

  5. frances.l.traynor

    March 3, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    There’s no accounting for taste it seems! I agree with you about the cover but I read this book and then I re read it immediately. It was so funnny and so tragic at the same time and the philosophical angles really appealed to me. As I see it, Benton, the narrator is an ‘everylad’ and he is unlikeable until it’s too late and maybe that’s the point. I do agree with you on High Fidelity tho. A fave of mine, but is Rob a real man?

  6. Annabel Gaskell

    March 4, 2009 at 9:02 am

    This is becoming one of those love it or leave it books…

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