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Author Patricia Nicol reveals a selection of the best books on: April Fools

It concerns me that I cannot remember whether my children attempted to play any April Fool’s Day tricks on their parents last year, or in 2020. What worries me, specifically, is that they may not have dared to, knowing how frayed our nerves already were after two bouts of lockdown and home schooling. 

What would have been my response, I now wonder, to have been woken up on April 1, 2021, to be told a meteorite was heading for Earth, pterodactyls were stalking our street or a new Ice Age was upon us? Probably just a shrug of weary acceptance and another silent scream, before we mustered in front of the TV for Joe Wicks. 

This Friday, however, I won’t mind if they prank me from dawn to dusk. 

As a child, I was an April Fool’s enthusiast — something I now realise my parents forebore with remarkable patience. 

Carter Beats The Devil by Glen David Gold Fingersmith by Sarah Waters Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

British author Patricia Nicol has rounded up a selection of the best books on April Fools including Carter Beats The Devil, by Glen David Gold (left) and Sarah Waters’s historical novel Fingersmith (right)

There are plenty of tricks played in fiction. Sarah Waters’s historical novel Fingersmith is a breathtakingly skilful tale of bluff and doublebluff. Sue, a London urchin, is sent to work as Maud’s lady’s maid, believing her secret mission is to convince the heiress to marry an adventurer. But streetwise Sue is being played. 

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Carter Beats The Devil, by Glen David Gold, is a novel all about trickery. It’s a highly fictionalised account of the life of Charles Joseph Carter, one of the 1920s most famous stage magicians. Here, he performs what seems a death-defying act: inviting on stage the president of the United States, who is then chopped into pieces and fed to a lion, but then appears whole again. But when the President dies within hours, questions are inevitably asked. 

Literature’s merriest pranksters may be twins Fred and George Weasley, older brothers to Harry Potter’s best friend, Ron. Their noblest wheeze occurs in Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix when they create a corridor swamp to allow Harry to sneak out and see his godfather, Sirius Black. Before they can be expelled, they quit Hogwarts in a fireworks blaze of glory. 

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I hope April Fool’s Day on Friday is full of high jinx and japery. We all deserve a laugh.

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