Praise for Hunting Unicorns
‘The ghost of Brideshead Revisited hovers over this tale of a batty aristo family whose raison d’être in the 21st century has become increasingly obscure. Bella Pollen has a pleasant, direct style and serves up a stylish romantic comedy with some very funny asides’
A superb novel. Sharp, poignant, redemptive, and very funny.
The Daily Express
“Hilariously accurate . . .brooding and elegiac, Pollen is undoubtedly a gifted writer with a pithy, poetic style.”
Daily Mail (UK)
‘She’d rather be covering a war, but American television journalist Maggie Munroe is sent to England instead to “revisit Brideshead in the twenty-first century” by putting together a story on the aristocracy. To gain access to stately homes, she’s put in touch with Rory Jones, who runs Stately Locations, an agency that helps impoverished lords develop commercial opportunities on their estates. Maggie doesn’t know that Rory himself is the reluctant heir to an earldom and a huge pile of architecture. Her determination to do more than a puff piece leads her on a wrongheaded investigation of Nazi ties in one family–his family. Inevitably the brash, commitment-phobic Maggie and the drily witty, slightly hapless Rory (picture Hugh Grant) get over their squabbles and yield to their mutual attraction. Narrated alternately by Maggie and by Rory’s brother Daniel (whose demise in the first chapter gets him a front-row seat from which to observe Rory’s life), this quirky comedy melds romance with a P. G. Wodehouse view of England’s upper crust’
“A terrific novel. Bella Pollen has captured the essence of the characters and their story in the most original way, with brilliant flashes of humor and deep poignancy that stay with you long after you have turned the last page.”
Christiane Amanpour, CNN
‘A romantic and comic romantic comedy served with a rich sauce of moribund Englishness’
The Big Issue
‘Miss Pollen’s contemporary wit plays on the fiction between the gung-ho modern New York woman and the uptight, moody and with a major chip on shoulder English man, and makes for a pleasurable and easy read, with more than a few chuckles on the way’
‘Pollen’s flashy, witty, urbane romantic comedy digs affectionately at the blue-blooded English. Assigned by current affairs show Newsline to determine if the English aristocracy is “a dying breed who after centuries of appalling behaviour were finally getting their comeuppance,” American journalist Maggie Monroe enlists the help of the London agency Stately Locations to meet and interview the well-born owners of those homes. Beleaguered Rory Jones runs the agency, which nets needy owners of crumbling great houses tourist money; unbeknownst to Maggie, he’s also the heir of the exalted Bevan family thanks to the untimely death of his older brother, Daniel. Maggie and her film crew brush up on Burke’s Peerage and invade the English countryside, running over peacocks and smoking pot in pricelessly appointed bedrooms. Despite Rory’s injunction, Maggie ventures to the Bevan mansion and wins over Rory’s dotty parents. As cousin to the queen, Rory’s father, Earl Alistair, is “pure Newsline Gold… and a total anachronism.” He’s also an impoverished and rather sweet alcoholic—and the son of a Nazi collaborationist. Pollen (All About Men) ventures into these and other dicey areas dealing with the old aristocracy (i.e., sex) in a most engaging, irreverent manner, using alternate points of view for Maggie and Daniel, who, from beyond the grave, observes the action with wry detachment. Pollen’s characterizations veer into the stereotypical, but charmingly so; in the end, Maggie and Rory are two young people in search of authentic experience, despite differences of birth and country’
‘Hunting Unicorns reads like the basis for a top class romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and yet another American leading lady. A hard up aristocrat is forced to work for a living, in this case renting out the stately homes of fellow toffs who’ve fallen on hard times to film studios to use as locations.
Bella Pollen is a very competent writer, with a Wodehouse-like feel for a happy ending that provides full satisfaction after even the lightest storyline’