Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Cambridge University is not as it seems - Muffy College Cambridge, book review

When I was looking for something to read that had a touch of paranormal/fantasy for adults, fate handed me a book that I loved.

Muffy College Cambridge by Gary and Christy Bonn.

Here's a quick blurb: 
Errol, bright and witty, wants to be an astrophysicist. Juliet, hard, streetwise, and with a heart of gold wants to be a plumber. Cheryl has the highest IQ ever recorded and doesn’t know what she wants—except the occasional man. One of them is destined to end the universe. All of them are about to receive a rude awakening in which they learn nothing is as it seems, not the universe, the world, or themselves. Welcome to Muffy College. Your course starts now.

Here's my review:
This is one of those books that as I read I thought, "Where does the author get his imagination from?" The plot hops along madly like a demented bunny taking the reader underground to Muffy College Cambridge where Juliet (genius plumber, of all things) finds she's on a course. Even among her weird and wonderful fellow-students and professors, Juliet stands out as someone special. And she is. Muffy College wouldn't be out of place in a Terry Pratchett book and it's miles more exciting than Hogwarts. Juliet's adventures (and they hit the reader at speed one after another) take her from the banal (what's the difference between pixies and nixies?) to philosophical questions of reincarnation (as a urinal in a motorway rest stop?) and religion. There's much to ponder in the underlying messages in the story but, in the meantime, the reader can accompany Juliet on the adventure of her life.

I was so impressed with Gary's imagination that I wrote and asked him a question:

Gary, less than 99.9% of humans can get into Muffy College Cambridge. But can we imagine a moment that a fly manages to get down there. He (it's a male fly) lands on a wall. What can he see?

To my delight, Gary responded: 


I hope the fly survives more than a few seconds – Muffy is a place for the tough, bright and resourceful. Most of the students are not human and many would see flies as tasty snacks. Indeed a lot of students see some other students as tasty snacks – though this is not encouraged and the ever-resourceful canteen provides tempting alternatives.

If the fly survived for centuries it would notice a unique evolution occurring in response to the college ethos. Each graduate wants more than anything else to see their own offspring go to and succeed at Muffy College. To achieve this the children are brought up to be fiercely independent, lateral thinking, rebellious and profoundly compassionate. Juliet has these qualities in abundance – along with a temper you don’t want to provoke unless you … no … don’t be silly.

The college may have been started around 2000 years ago in response to Plutarch saying:

The mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth.’*

To continue the analogy, the students’ minds are not filled but ignited. Not so much like wood – think of each student as a barrel of fireworks.

Unaware of what is happening the students are driven to find truth and inquire deeper than anyone before – in order that the professors and parents can
 learn from them in turn. To achieve this the poor students from day one have no idea what is happening, are kept in a chaotic state of confused ignorance and feel they are being pushed and pulled in all directions. They also don’t know that no one ever really leaves the college – but who would want to leave it?

Muffy College, Cambridge is the first in a series which travels to different worlds and returns to the college in the fourth book – dragging with it the main characters acquired along the way in order to meet up and do exactly what the college wants – take things further. Unsurprisingly (knowing Juliet, Errol, Bernice, Caspian, Madeleine and Cadwallader) this may upset a few people.

Currently in its final proofread the fourth book follows The Cross-dresser’s Habit and Curses Foiled. We’re still not sure of the title but ‘Rude Awakening’, ‘Soul Slaves’ and ‘Sin’ may creep in somewhere.

The response to Muffy has been wonderful – especially among students and inquiring young people. The memory of being hugged and slapped on the back when I entered The Paddock in Emmanuel College will stay with me forever.

The fly is alive and well and dashing to Westminster and the Department for Education to blow some minds.


Thank you Gary! I'm glad no fly was hurt in writing this post.

Below are book covers of Gary's other work and here are some links:

Hive Mind (To be published later this year) Is the first of a series of three stand-alone but consecutive Sci-Fi books. There are parallel chapters available for free at: http://garybonn.com/scifi/





9 comments:

  1. What an unusual premise for a story.

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    1. Oh it's an unusual one, that's for sure :-)

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  2. It's sounds like a book i must check out. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. Sounds lovely and quirky. I need to add this one to my TBR pile. Thank you, Sue!

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  4. Thank you (on behalf of Gary LOL), Murees and Cat.

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