Eliza is long-suffering and intelligent, her husband a pompous prig and a self-regarding idiot. In "some of the funniest stories in the English language" their life together is described through everyday incidents by the never-named husband, who, like Pooter, reveals his own extraordinary foolishness and pomposity quite unwittingly. The Eliza stories are as fresh and funny today as when they were written and they offer a fascinating glimpse of life at the beginning of the last century. The stories were great commercial successes in the years before the First World War, but typically for humorous writing, they were treated with disdain by the literary establishment. Sir Alfred Noyes complained in 1927 that Barry Pain, their author, wasted his genius on railway bookstalls, but that even then his work "had more genius in it than ninety per cent of the solemn 'Art' of the day." In Eliza's husband, Terry Jones writes, Pain created a character of the same calibre as John Cleese's Basil Fawlty - "as exasperating and infuriating as he is funny." Keith Waterhouse called the Eliza books "the missing link between Diary of a Nobody and Diary of a Provincial Lady.
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