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Tennis and the Masai

Take a nervous young Englishman on his gap year. Drop him into a ghastly Kenya prep school in the middle of Rider Haggard country. A school where cricketing news comes by carrier pigeon, leopards are assaulted with a red-hot poker, and runaway boys are hunted down with spearmen and a pack of foxhounds…

For Martin Riddle, the experience is unforgettable. For the riding mistress, Lady Bullivant, it is all part of the day’s work. And for the headmaster, a disreputable ex-Guards officer, it is simply a means of staving off bankruptcy for a few more weeks.

As for the Masai, tennis may be on the curriculum at Haggard Hall, but midnight meetings with naked warriors definitely are not!


‘The funniest book I have read since David Lodge’s Small World’ – Sunday Times

‘Wickedly funny’ – Daily Mail

‘Less savage than Evelyn Waugh, Best is every bit as sharp… an immensely enjoyable book’ – Evening Standard

‘Very good entertainment’ – Sir Alec Guinness (Sunday Times book of the year)

Nicholas Best’s books have been translated into many languages. He was the Financial Times’s fiction critic for ten years and was long-listed in 2010 for the Sunday Times-EFG Bank £30,000 award, the biggest short story prize in the world. For more details, see

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