The Shooting Party (novel)

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The Shooting Party
1st edition
Author Isabel Colegate
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Hamish Hamilton (UK)
Publication date
1980 (UK)
Media type Print (Hardcover)
ISBN 9780241104736

The Shooting Party is the ninth novel by Isabel Colegate published in 1980[1] that won the 1981 WH Smith Literary Award. It was adapted into a 1985 film The Shooting Party. It is published as part of the Penguin Books Modern Classic series.

Plot summary[edit]

The novel takes place "in the autumn before the outbreak of what used to be known as the Great War," in Nettleby Park, which "was very large in those days, nearly a thousand acres (an eighth of the whole estate)," all of it the property of Sir Randolph, a gentleman of conservative leanings who laments the coming of a new age of "striking industrial workers, screaming suffragettes, Irish terrorists, scandals on the Stock Exchange, universal suffrage." It outrages him that "the politicians are determined to turn this country into an urban society instead of a rural one" and to "take away the power of the landed proprietor." He may seem at first a caricature of the British upper class, but he is simply a man of another time, a paternalistic patrician who believes it his duty to care for the men and women who work on his farm. His instincts are kind and his sense of humor is fully functional, including when it is directed at himself.[2]


The book features a large cast of characters including:

  • Sir Randolph - estate owner and host
  • Minnie - hostess, wife of Sir Randolph
  • Glass - gamekeeper
  • Dan - his son
  • Tom Harker - estate worker (and poacher)
  • Gilbert, Lord Hartlip - guest shooter
  • Aline, Lady Hartlip - wife of Lord Hartlip
  • Lionel Stephens - guest shooter
  • Bob, Lord Lilburn - guest
  • Olivia, Lady Lilburn - guest, wife of Lord Lilburn
  • Sir Reuben - wealthy Jewish merchant
  • Count Rakassyi - young Hungarian guest
  • Harry Stamp - neighbour to Sir Randolph
  • Charles Farquar - guest, good looking friend of Aline Hartlip
  • Ida - daughter of hosts Sir Randolph and Minnie
  • Cicely - Ida's eldest daughter
  • Marcus - Ida's son
  • Violet - Ida's third child, and younger daughter
  • Osbert - Ida's youngest child
  • Tommy - Farmers son, Cicely's contemporary.Out of his depth.
  • Cornelius Cardew - philosopher, vegetarian, animal rights activist
  • Charlie Pass - Sir Randolph's loader
  • Jarvis - Gilbert's loader
  • Percy Maidment - Lionel's loader
  • John - house footman
  • Ellen - Cicely's maid
  • Mary - maid
  • Rogers - head butler


In a 1981 book review by Kirkus Reviews called the book "a decorous, atmospheric short novel which much too deliberately packs all the End-of-Old-England motifs into one weekend at an Oxfordshire estate." and summarized; "From start to finish, then, there's far too little real characterization and far too much prototyping here—as Colegate's metaphor-essay approach scrambles to include every 1913 issue, from Ireland and the failure of romanticism to budding feminism and the ""bigger shooting party"" that is war. Still, it's all done with grace, well-crafted vignettes, and a strong (if studied) Chekhovian feel for people-against-landscape—so readers more disposed to mood than storytelling will find this an evocative and elegantly restrained replay of Shaw's Heartbreak House milieu."[3] Reviewing the book in 2008 for The Washington Post, Jonathan Yardley wrote, "That she has managed to take on [these] very large subjects in a book of fewer than 200 pages, and to consider them through a cast of wholly human characters, is a remarkable accomplishment."[2]

The Shooting Party won the 1981 WH Smith Literary Award.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Colegate, Isabel (Summer 2003). "The Shooting Party". The Threepenny Review; thoughts on the reissue of The Shooting Party 
  2. ^ a b Yardley, Jonathan (7 August 2008). "'The Shooting Party': Isabel Colegate's Literary Mark". The Washington Post. 
  3. ^ "The Shooting Party". Kirkus Reviews. 1 April 1981. 
  4. ^ Janklow and Nesbit, UK