i Cryptic Crossword 3,473 by Serpent

March 26, 2022

Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Setters are always on the lookout for 15-letter entries, and it’s especially nice if they can find two that have a link. Today Serpent gave us WIDE SARGASSO SEA and CHARLOTTE BRONTE. What’s rather pleasing is that the former was written by JEAN RHYS and the latter was the writer of the symmetrically placed JANE EYRE. What’s utterly brilliant is that Serpent has linked the 20th century prequel writer to Ms Bronte’s classic with this clue:

13a 5 rearranged 18 using extremes of speech, rather than central characters (4,4)

I wonder if Ms Rhys realised the similarity between her name and the book from which she drew her inspiration? Probably. And I bet she’d have loved the clue – so it’s my CoD.

I’ve not read her book about the young Rochesters, but do remember the excellent TV film with Rebecca Hall. Oh, and I once played Mr Rochester with the local AmDram, but that’s another story.

There were lots of other brilliant clues too: the theme was linked to AUTHOR derived from Thor[e]au, then ETHOS, KNOWLEDGE, BLACK EYE, JACKBOOTS, and BONFIRE were all stand-outs. For cricket fans the surface reading of 1a is topical – the Windies are 232 for 8 at the time of writing.

And of course Serpent has managed all the above with a user-friendly grid and with no obscure entries needed to squeeze the theme in.

Whilst I didn’t share Bert&Joyce’s quibble about 1d EAGLE, I was unable to parse 9a GRANDPA, having never heard of GPA. It could just have easily have been GMA, but a lucky I guess at the close brought up the yellow tick on the app. For anyone solving on paper, it might have been necessary to look that one up.

I’ve given it 4* for difficulty, but actually it was a fairly swift solve because Serpent is so logical and his instructions so precise.

Here’s the link to the answers:

fifteensquared.net/2017/12/07/independent-9720-serpent

4 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3,473 by Serpent”

  1. jonofwales said

    Unexpectedly, I find myself the first to comment. Perhaps it’s all the fabulous spring weather!

    A 3* for difficulty solve here which should have been quicker – it took far too long to untangle the long author’s name, and I only did so after getting the name of the book which I did vaguely remember. Funny how yesterday’s publishing sensation is today’s very forgotten news! I suspect the work it was inspired by will last in the memory a while longer. πŸ˜‰

    A great puzzle nevertheless by Serpent, helped no end by the serendipity of the similarity between the shorter author’s name and the original work.

  2. dtw42 said

    Forgot to note down how long this one took me, but agreed: all very clever stuff, esp the handy meshing of author/title lengths. Had a tick against the clue for 18, which I liked.
    1a and 1d were left in pencil, as I couldn’t parse those two.

  3. Saboteur said

    A late evening solve here, and I was so pleased to find it was from Serpent.
    I loved solving this. Serpent’s cluing is so good with excellent surface readings that they are a real joy.
    Sadly, it was a slightly disappointing finish, as the “gpa” part of GRANDPA meant nothing to me – and yes I was solving on paper. This followed EAGLE which didn’t make a lot of sense to me, either.
    Even so, an impressive puzzle, and I really admire the way the four entries of the mini-theme were managed and linked. Good stuff.

  4. Henri said

    Difficult, missed gpa in spite of being in America. Did not parse all

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