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Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Patrick Hamilton , J.B. Priestley
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Jun 2001 Penguin Modern Classics

A pitch-black comedy set in London overshadowed by the looming threat of the Second World War, Patrick Hamilton's Hangover Square includes an introduction by J.B. Priestley in Penguin Modern Classics.

London, 1939, and in the grimy publands of Earls Court, George Harvey Bone is pursuing a helpless infatuation. Netta is cool, contemptuous and hopelessly desirable to George. George is adrift in a drunken hell, except in his 'dead' moments, when something goes click in his head and he realizes, without a doubt, that he must kill her. In the darkly comic Hangover Square Patrick Hamilton brilliantly evokes a seedy, fog-bound world of saloon bars, lodging houses and boozing philosophers, immortalising the slang and conversational tone of a whole generation and capturing the premonitions of doom that pervaded London life in the months before the war.

Patrick Hamilton (1904-1962) was one of the most gifted and admired writers of his generation. His plays include the thrillers Rope (1929), on which Alfred Hitchcock's film of the same name was based, and Gas Light (1939), twice successfully adapted for the screen, the second time starring Ingrid Bergman. Among his novels are The Midnight Bell (1929); The Siege of Pleasure (1932); The Plains of Cement (1934); a trilogy entitled Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky (1935), adapted into a BBC mini-series in 2007; Hangover Square (1941); and The West Pier (1951), Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse (1953) and Unknown Assailant (1955), which together comprise The Gorse Trilogy.

If you enjoyed Hangover Square, you might like Norman Collins's London Belongs to Me, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'One of the great books of the twentieth century'

Independent on Sunday

'A masterly novel ... you can almost smell the gin'

Keith Waterhouse, Spectator


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Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) + Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky (Vintage Classics) + The Slaves of Solitude
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (28 Jun 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141185899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141185897
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

* Rhind-Tutt's presentation of Bone's cinematic first-person narrative cleverly builds the tension of the mental conflicts which make up Bone's distorted vision of what is going on around him. It's a tense and gripping study of a drink-fuelled mental disintegration. Rachel Redford, The Observer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Patrick Hamilton was one of the most gifted and admired writers of his generation. Born in Hassocks, Sussex, in 1904, he and his parents moved a short while later to Hove, where he spent his early years. He published his first novel, Craven House, in 1926 and within a few years had established a wide readership for himself. Despite personal setbacks and an increasing problem with drink, he was able to write some of his best work. His plays include the thrillers Rope (1929), on which Alfred Hitchcock's film of the same name was based, and Gas Light (1939), also successfully adapted for the screen (1939), and a historical drama, The Duke in Darkness (1943). Among his novels are The Midnight Bell (1929); The Siege of Pleasure (1932); The Plains of Cement (1934); a trilogy entitled Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky (1935); Hangover Square (1941); The Slaves of Solitude (1947); and The West Pier (1951), Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse (1953) and Unknown Assailant (1955), which together comprise The Gorse Trilogy.

J. B. Priestley described Patrick Hamilton as uniquely individual ... He is the novelist of innocence, appallingly vulnerable, and of malevolence, coming out of some mysterious darkness of evil.' Patrick Hamilton died in 1962.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WARNING! DON'T READ THE INTRODUCTION. 4 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback
Firstly let me just say that i enjoyed this book very much, as it is the sort of lit
i usually go for, as i like books about outsiders, underdogs people who are at the edge of society who don't necessarily fit in, or don't want to. But anyway this isn't a review as there are people better at it than me.
This is just a warning that JB Priestly, the person who wrote the introduction
(in my penguin paperback version at least) has decided it his his job to tell us what happens at the end of the book. I can't really imagine why anyone in their right mind would do this, but i don't think it's necessary and if you don't want to find out what happens before you've read it, leave the introduction alone untill you've finished the book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex, Madness and Utter Moral Failure 15 April 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's arguable, but I think this is Hamilton's masterpiece. The reason I say this is the way he creates such a plausible and compelling account of a descent into madness and links it so effortlessly to the moral collapse of Neville Chamberlains England.

I have read this book many times, and Hamilton is so skilled at playing the readers hopes that each time I root for George and hope he will make the two or three simple choices that will save him (one may have the same feelings about England when reading Churchill on the lead up to World War 2). But he never does- the tragedy unfolds from its seeds on the first few pages and is always terrible.

In Netta he has surely also created one of the finest and most repulsive femmes fatale ever.

If you have ever been unhappily in love and been led a merry dance, you will find George Harvey Bone in yourself and be both moved, afraid and grateful that you escaped.

If you have ever lived in a country busy being sold down the river by weak leaders, then the same applies.

Buy this book!
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An underrated novel 20 Jan 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I highly recommend "Hangover Square" as a good read. Hamilton is a sadly neglected novelist, and "Hangover Square" one of his best novels. Writing during the 1930's and war years, his books capture the essence of loneliness, some hopeless, empty, tragic quality of the human soul. George, through whom the story unfolds is a lonely bachelor who frequents the dingy Earls Court of the period; gas-lit bedsit land, sleazy bars, the pub-land drifters and no-hopers, low-grade hotels, Lyons tea houses - this is the world which Hamilton so sensitively and so achingly captures.

The tormented George pursues his "ideal", the cruel, amoral Netta, to the point where his obsession with her becomes sick and destructive. Behind this agonising tale looms the shadow of the imminent world war. A brilliant, dark, gripping story.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book has to be among the best novels of the last century. It is tragic, funny and moving. Hamilton was an outstanding writer whose understanding of seemy pub life and the dark side of drinking has never been bettered. Martin Amis would kill to have this much talent or an ounce of Hamilton's compassion.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific stuff 30 Oct 2002
By L. Goddard TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
An unusual and gripping book. The sheer injustice that is suffered by George, the central character, is balanced with our knowledge of what is REALLY going on in his head when he has one of his 'dead' moods... terrible murderous thoughts unknown even to kindly George himself. Thus we see-saw mercilessly back and forth along with George's own unacknowledged schizophrenia, seeing him unwittingly inching closer to his ultimate revenge - a revenge that we realise must destroy him too.

It's impossible not to feel compassion, frustration and sadness when reading this book. Hamilton's use of dialogue and spare description perfectly evokes both the glitz and the seamier sides of pre-war London, a London which he himself had seen and experienced. Indeed my one cautionary note would be that the old fashioned London dialogue and vocabulary may be tricky for some non-British readers to follow.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Described by the [London] Daily Telegraph as "a criminally neglected British author," Patrick Hamilton wrote nine novels from the 1920s through the early 1950s, along with the famous dramas of Rope and Gaslight, and though he earned the admiration of a host of famous authors, from Graham Greene and Doris Lessing to Nick Hornby, he never achieved the popular success he deserved, either in his own time or throughout the twentieth century. In this decade, however, virtually all his novels have been reprinted in both Europe and in the US, and he is finally beginning to be recognized for his astute observations about his times and for his insights into the minds of his characters.

Indicating in the subtitle that this is "A story of darkest Earl's Court," Hangover Square is set in what was then a seamy, low-rent district of London, a place in which those who were down on their luck, out of work, or homeless could manage to scrounge through life. Bars and cheap entertainment provided evening activities for people who often did not get up before noon. George Harvey Bone, the main character here, is out of work. Like the other unemployed and under-employed people he associates with, he lives on the fringes of the entertainment business-part-time actors and actresses, managers, and movie makers who party long and hard, fueled by massive quantities of alcohol.

George's drinking might have triggered his earliest his "blackouts," but here they have become more frequent and more debilitating--psychotic episodes of schizophrenia which end with the demand that he kill Netta Longdon to save himself.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
As described, book vg, delivery slow.
Published 9 days ago by peter wales
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and well-told
Patrick Hamilton achieves the difficult task of making you feel some degree of empathy with George - the central character in this atmospheric and well-crafted novel, set in 1939. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jl Adcock
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thank you
Published 1 month ago by rosie2
4.0 out of 5 stars Review
Like a predecessor to McCarthy in that you struggle to find much to like in any of the main characters but also disturbing in how familiar their personalities are and identifiable... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Richard Lock
4.0 out of 5 stars Recognisable,
An excellent read in which one sympathises so much with the misused central character. I felt I knew all the characters from my own life in the forties and fifties north west... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Terrypooh
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Classic
I read this book as a teenager more years ago than I now care to remember. The story has always stuck with me, So much so that I had to source and read it again.
Published 5 months ago by Dr. Gary D. Gorton
5.0 out of 5 stars A very dark story with resonances today
Beautifully written and whilst clearly giving a feel for pre-war Britain, also has resonances today in the cruelty, the uncaring manner in which the "hero" is treated.
Published 5 months ago by Sharon Betton
5.0 out of 5 stars Rotten editing and typesetting of England's own L'Éstranger
I respect this novel as a great work of interwar anomie to rival Camus' L'Éstranger, a novel almost exactly contemporaneous with Hamilton's masterpiece. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Johanna Behrendt
5.0 out of 5 stars Another modern classic from Patrick Hamilton......
Another modern classic from much neglected author Patrick Hamilton. It is set in 1939 and George Harvey Bone is living an indolent life in the Earls Court area of London. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Wynne Kelly
1.0 out of 5 stars Thank you for ruining the book in the introduction
Fast delivery, well packaged. BUT WHAT THE HELL IS WITH AN INTRODUCTION THAT RUINS THE END OF THE BOOK?!!!!! And with no warning! Read more
Published 9 months ago by Alex Killinger
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