|Picture of the first edition, taken from Wikipedia. Mine was, of course, the free Kindle edition.|
It shows Twain's humour very well, and although I must admit I skipped some of the lengthy speeches made in the book, and some bits were rather predictable (especially the way the love story goes), I much enjoyed it.
Just by the way it starts, you can see what I mean:
No weather will be found in this book. [...] Many a reader who wanted to read a tale through was not able to do it because of delays on account of the weather. [...] Of course weather is necessary to a narrative of human experience. That is conceded. But it ought to be put where it will not be in the way [...]. And it ought to be the ablest weather that can be had, not ignorant, poor-quality, amateur weather. [...] The present author can do only a few trifling ordinary kinds of weather, and he cannot do these very good.
So it has seemed wisest to borrow such weather as is necessary for the book from qualified and recognized experts - giving credit, of course.
This weather will be found over in the back part the book, out of the way. The reader is requested to turn over and help himself from time to time as he goes along.
The story begins with the introduction of an elderly English Earl and his son. The family have been receiving letters from American relatives claiming the Earldom for many years; now one of the last remaining relatives has died, and the claim has moved to the hands of one Colonel Sellers, who sends a most extraordinary letter.
The Earl's son, with a strong sense of justice, wants to put things right (because, actually, the claim is apparently justified) and decides to travel to America and renounce his own claim to the title, to become a man just like everbody else, to make a living by honest work.
Does he succeed? Yes and no.
Colonel Sellers, who comes up with all sorts of quirky ideas to make money and better his and his family's position, does not know of the Earl's son's plans. At the moment of the son's arrival in his town, he is trying to capture a bank robber to earn the reward. A fire at a hotel leads to the Earl's son being taken for the "resurrected" criminal (who really died in the fire), and a chain of all sorts of events, some funny and some less so, is set in motion.
All ends well, though, and everything in between is interesting and fun to read: from the political and humanistic ideals of the Earl's son to the inventions and schemes of Colonel Sellers to the thoroughly described living conditions at a humble boarding house for working class men in those days.
Read it, if you want something truly different; amusing, but not without some deep thoughts, presented in humoristic disguise.