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Jill Paperback – 3 Mar 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (3 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571225829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571225828
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Larkin was born in Coventry in 1922 and was educated at King Henry VIII School, Coventry, and St John's College, Oxford. As well as his volumes of poems, which include The Whitsun Weddings and High Windows, he wrote two novels, Jill and A Girl in Winter, and two books of collected journalism: All What Jazz: A Record Library, and Required Writing: Miscellaneous Prose. He worked as a librarian at the University of Hull from 1955 until his death in 1985. He was the best-loved poet of his generation, and the recipient of innumerable honours, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and the W. H. Smith Award.

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Review

"'The qualities one has learned to value in his poetry are there: control of emotion and language, keen observation, and in particular the very precise expression of half-success, anticipated failure or sadness.' New Statesman; 'Jill is, in a sense, a kind of cryptic literary manifesto. It is a novel about writing, about discovering a literary personality, and about the sorts of consolation that art can provide.' Andrew Motion"

About the Author

Philip Larkin was born in Coventry in 1922 and was educated at King Henry VIII School, Coventry, and St John's College, Oxford. As well as his volumes of poems, which include The Whitsun Weddings and High Windows, he wrote two novels, Jill and A Girl in Winter, and two books of collected journalism: All What Jazz: A Record Diary, and Required Writing: Miscellaneous Prose. He worked as a librarian at the University of Hull from 1955 until his death in 1985. He was the best-loved poet of his generation, and the recipient of innumerable honours, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and the WHSmith Award.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Urselius on 31 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback
I remember Philip Larkin as a looming figure, in a literal sense - he was tall, stalking the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull. I was, of course, aware of his poetry but unaware that he had written novels. Discovering 'Jill' was therefore an unexpected pleasure. Larkin, in the foreword to the 1963 reprint of Jill, stated that the novel was in effect an extended short story. Whilst not as rounded a work as some, I think Larkin understated its credentials as a novel. Where Larkin excels is in painting the mood and environs of wartime Oxford and Oxford University in particular. The reader becomes immersed in the physicality of the setting through Larkin's gift for minute observation and description - he distils the essence of the moment. His descriptions of weather are particularly lyrical. His evocation of the awkwardness and apprehension of the youngster from a working class non-university family who finds himself in an alien environment where everyone else seems so very confident in themselves, will evoke sympathetic memories in anyone who experienced the same.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ms. J. Pariat on 6 July 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although written when he was only 21, this book is a good precursor to the poetry that Larkin is famous for. Beautifully written, sharp, crisp,strangely evocative of a far bygone era. John Kemp, from a middle-class background, is a new student in the world of Oxford where he meets people different and more well off than himself. Struggling to fit in, he invents a school-girl sister named Jill...who becomes more than a figment of his imagination when he encounters Gillian. Lovely read. Highly recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrea on 8 July 2012
Format: Paperback
People generally review this book by looking at Larkin's poetry first, and then this sort of literary 'stub' afterwards - so it makes sense to them that this was some form of rehearsal for all the beautiful poetry he wrote later on.

In his own correspondence he says "I persuade words into being poetry & don't bully them" and that's probably the best way to describe this novel apart from telling people what it is about (Oxford, wartime, male friendship and bonding, ego inflation, infatuation and...I won't spoil the ending). He forced beautiful words into a novel but didn't quite finish it off and if my memory serves me correctly, he wasn't enthused about having it published once it was finished as he wasn't particularly proud of it. So alas, it fizzles out towards the end but it's a very lovely read if you don't expect books that go out with a bang. This one goes out with the proverbial whimper. Personally I found too much of a nice thing hard to read at times, particularly as the character's imagination weaved more and more imaginary tales.

Once you're done and have read some of his poetry too, do visit Christopher Hitchen's controversial essay on Larkin for a glimpse of the man himself if you haven't yet done so and see if it changes how you feel about this book. It might. The essay ("Philip Larkin, the Impossible Man") is included in 'Arguably'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hilz on 26 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had been unaware until recently that Larkin had written any novels and was prompted by curiosity to read this, his first. It is beautifully written and includes descriptions of the minutiae of everyday life that evoke the atmosphere of Oxford in the 1940s. I was interested to find that he writes in such detail about women and girls, especially as he wrote this novel at a young age. I felt that the book tailed off at the end and left questions hanging - what did John Kemp's parents think of him at that stage and what did he do next?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Strode on 4 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really loved this cleverly-observed, moving novel. I've admired Larkin's poetry for a long time but this is the first prose of his that I have read, and I will certainly be looking out for more.
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