Toff Chav

Fiction - Literary
294 Pages
Reviewed on 10/01/2018
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Author Biography

Miles Hadley was born in Northamptonshire. He attended Campion school, Bugbrooke and studied at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Nottingham Ningbo campus in China. He has also studied at George Brown College, Toronto, Canada.
His first novel, Toff Chav, was part of his project for the Vaughan Park Anglican Retreat centre scholarship residency near Auckland, New Zealand.
The novel was inspired by social disparity in the United Kingdom.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Toff Chav by Miles Hadley is a slightly farcical journey through the deep cultural and class divide that is modern day England and, in particular, London. Archie Hodgkin-Smith, with his double-barreled name, is your archetypal young toff, from a long and proud lineage of aristocracy and landowners, well known for their desecration of dead pigs as a rite of passage. From the other end of the economic and cultural scale, we meet Gary, a down and out CHAV. What’s a Chav, you may ask, if you’re not from England? According to Archie’s girlfriend, Polly, CHAV stands for – Council House and Violence. Gary and his fellow Chavs and Hoodies that frequent the council estates of London appear to be a lost generation, railing helplessly and ineffectively against the disparity and unfair life they face on the edge of poverty. Gary, though, still has dreams – albeit dreams he considers can never be achieved. Gary just wants a real life, like the commuters he watches daily as they rush to work on their trains. He wants to make his late Mum proud and save himself, his sister and her baby from a life of helplessness and poverty. When Archie’s money and privileged world comes into contact with Gary and his grimy, poverty-stricken life, sparks are sure to fly.

Toff Chav is a beautiful social commentary on the mess our society is in today, where the purpose of life it seems is to make money and “to hell with everyone else.” Author Miles Hadley has drawn some extremely caricatured characters, especially with Archie Hodgkin-Smith and his fellow decadent and uncaring toffs. This I am sure was done intentionally if only to highlight the extreme juxtaposition of Archie’s and Gary’s different lives. I particularly loved the “old money” attitudes, as represented by Archie and his friends, and the contempt they showed for the “new (and possibly corrupt) money” of their “friend” Konstantine, the son of a Russian oligarch and supposed money launderer. It was a contempt they buried, in most cases, because despite their gaucheness, Konstantine’s family was incredibly wealthy. Bollard, the weirdo that so beautifully captured Gary’s mind and heart was, in my opinion, the star of the story and his simple belief in unity and humanity was a refreshing touch in an increasingly fractured world as described by the author. This book absolutely captures the essence of the populist leaders of today, their protection of their constituents and their tactics of fear and hatred to divide and conquer. It is a powerful expose of our society today, told with a touch of humour, but also a belief that, given goodwill and understanding, anything is possible. This is a superb book that everyone should read.

Romuald Dzemo

Toff Chav by Miles Hadley is a great literary achievement featuring intelligently imagined and 'ripsnorter' characters with traits that readers can easily identify with. Archie Hodgkin-Smith is a pleasure-seeker who dreams of a career in photography. Then there is Polly Raynard, a compelling character with strong liberal and progressive views, who may alter Archie’s trend of life in powerful ways — or not? Gary Brown’s world is on a downward spiral and he faces new challenges in a council estate in London. He is a chav and life is dealing him harder blows than he can handle. When his world clashes with that of Archie Hodgkin-Smith, a toff with extravagant propensities, what results is a ride that readers will adore.

Miles Hadley creates characters that reflect the social realities in England, ensuring that the class differences are vividly portrayed and deepening the reader’s understanding of toff and chav. The writing is great and will appeal. While Toff Chav features excellent prose, the merits of the novel lie in its apt depiction of the social realities of England and the realism that is injected into the narrative. There is a lot to appreciate in this tale, from the sophisticated characters to the awesome setting, to the intelligent plot. Hadley grabs your attention from the opening pages and manages to keep you focused on the story from one gripping page to the next. Toff Chav is a character-driven novel that is a wild ride, but written with a fine sense of humor. It is an exciting and hugely entertaining read.

K.C. Finn

Toff Chav is a work of British literary fiction by author Miles Hadley. As the title suggests, the story line focuses on the divide between rich and poor, as well as high and low social class in modern day Britain. Our ‘Toff’ is Archie Hodgkin-Smith, a thoroughbred hedonist whose options in life are plentiful. When he meets the liberal go-getter Polly Raynard, however, Archie’s values and way of life are threatened. Meanwhile, our ‘Chav’ Gary Brown has very few options in his life on a council estate deep in the city of London. With his prospects looking grim, Gary’s world is about to collide with another that might be his salvation, or his undoing.

There’s something very Dickensian about Toff Chav, with its quintessentially British style and almost caricature-like central characters. As a Brit myself, I recognize the divides that author Miles Hadley discusses, and many of the grim truths of the divided society in which we have always lived. Archie’s character in particular begins the tale as somewhat ridiculous – the typical Harry Enfield-style rich man with no real direction in life – but the development of his emotional story line was well told and finished much more strongly than it started. Gary’s tale hit home right from the start, a gritty and realistic story of hardship from birth, and it is perhaps the combination of the two extremes which really makes this novel pop. Overall, Toff Chav is a relatively short literary read with accurate contemporary descriptions and a well penned emotional story line.

Asher Syed

Toff Chav by Miles Hadley is the story of two young men; the wealthy aristocrat named Archie Hodgkin-Smith (the “toff”, which in British slang is a rich individual from the upper social class) and Gary Brown (the “chav”, which is British slang for a poor individual from the lower social class). Archie and Gary are polar opposites in every conceivable way. Archie was born as the heir to the family estate, Risely, runs in similar circles, and has had the benefits of privilege his entire life. Gary was not born with the same advantages and has the added pressure of looking after his sister and her child, a responsibility he's shouldered since the passing of his mother. The convergence of these two worlds is enough to rock both of their lives in the city of London, where the imbalance of the situation and the implications for both come to a head.

Toff Chav is an interesting look at social structure in one of the few countries that still have titled gentry and a genuine class structure. Miles Hadley brings this to the forefront, highlighting Archie and Gary in their daily lives from alternating points of view. Archie becomes involved with a liberal young woman named Polly who views the world differently despite Archie's wholehearted resistance. Ever the idealist, Polly was my favorite character since she was, honestly, the only thing that humanized Archie. On the other hand, Gary felt fully fleshed out from the onset. As someone comfortably sandwiched in the middle class, it wasn't easy to identify with either of the main characters, but Hadley does a great job of making both come to life. I'd recommend this book to those who enjoy gritty urban fiction that flirts with the likes of Laura Wade's Posh and modern twists to stories that bridge social gaps à la Fitzgerald.

Rabia Tanveer

Before I begin my review of Toff Chav by Miles Hadley, let me just comment on the brilliant and simply fantastic cover. I have to admit, it was the cover of the novel that drew my attention and made me reach for it. The novel is fast paced and filled with some amazing little nuggets that had me highlighting many passages. The characters were wonderfully developed and given full time to mature before they reached their climax. I loved both Archie and Gary; both of them from very different parts of society, yet their similarities made them really refreshing characters.

This is the story of two men who are from two very different walks of life, but when hardship comes they might not turn out to be so different. Archie has lived a privileged life, one that he has enjoyed rather immensely. He wants to become a photographer and, with resources at his disposal, he finds that there is not much that he can’t do. What he was not expecting was meeting the charming Polly. On the flip side, we have Gary, a man very different from Archie in every sense of the word. He doesn’t know what a privileged life is, especially since he has spent half his life struggling. Both have their own problems and both have their own ways of fighting it. Can they find what they are looking for?

What I loved most about this novel was that the author did not rush anything, yet nothing felt slow or dragging. I don’t know how Miles Hadley did it, but he did it! He kept the momentum of the story going and made sure that readers stayed invested in the story. I enjoyed the flow of the story, the dialogues and how everything tied in beautifully at the end. This is a brilliant novel.