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‘The funniest book I’ve read this year.’

‘Slightly Foxed is another brilliant imprint, publishing small hardback books from unfairly neglected authors. This year’s finest includes Christopher Robbins’ hilarious The Empress of Ireland, an account of the friendship between an English journalist and Brian Desmond Hurst, a flamboyant film director, and Catholic convert, from Belfast.

It’s a kind of prose version of Withnail and I: the title comes from Hurst’s reproach to a group of drinkers who called him an old queen: “I am the Empress of Ireland!” It’s a tribute not just to a fabulous, louche eccentric but to a vanished world of the Seventies and Eighties, and the funniest book I’ve read this year.’ Melanie McDonagh, The Tablet

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