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The Owl and the Earl

When Hector, a relative newcomer, agrees to join the Mastership of the Blankshire Hunt, he little realises he has bitten off more than he can chew...Tasked with finding a great deal of money to repair the dilapidated hunt stables Hector quickly discovers that whilst the great and the good of the county want to help, they are not prepared to do so if it means burying various hatchets or agreeing with one another. As a result he soon finds that almost every step forward is matched by another one back. His powers of diplomacy and stocks of tact are brought to the edge of exhaustion as he strains every sinew to persuade those most closely linked to the Blankshire to make common cause. As the deadline approaches Hector has to call in various allies from afar to help and with every step of the way, dogged by imminent comic chaos and confusion, the pace only increases as the rivalry and tension builds to a deliciously nuanced climax. A fast moving comedy of manners, set in the fictional county of Blankshire.
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About the Author

Paul Smith was born in Manchester (always Cheshire to his mother). Having stumbled, somewhat nonplussed into a state Grammar School at 11, he evolved a highly effective system of only ever working when all other possibilities had been exhausted. Late flowering scholastic skills did allow progress to the Sixth form and then University. Qualifying as a lawyer in the 1980s he subsequently built up a very successful insurance business. At the moment he is busy developing a second rapidly growing financial services firm. Commercial success and its rewards have allowed him to develop interesting new tastes and both hunting and shooting have appeared to him as essential and immensely invigorating ways of living life. Over the last 25 years or so he has hunted with the crack Yorkshire hunts (still thriving within the law) and had the pleasure of joining the Mastership of the Middleton Hunt in 2009, retiring after four seasons in 2013. He is also a keen shot, when the Hunt Meet Card allows. During this 25 years the characters in this novel have slowly grown in his mind. While the tale is set in the 1980s it tells of a world that only changes very slowly. The beginnings of the novel itself came when a serious and very talented literary friend challenged him to turn various scraps and sketches into a full-blown novel. Of course the tale grew in the telling and the characters developed lives of their own. So, for the first time, the world of Blankshire is presented -

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