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Slaves Of Solitude Paperback – 21 Feb 1991


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Product details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New edition edition (21 Feb 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747407622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747407621
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,403,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Patrick Hamilton was a marvellous novelist who's grossly neglected... I'm continually amazed that there's a kind of roll call of OK names from the 1930s, sort of Auden, Isherwood, etc. But Hamilton is never on them and he's a much better writer than any of them... [he] was very much outside the tradition of an upper-class or middle-class writer of that time. He wrote novels about ordinary people. He wrote more sense about England and what was going on in England in the 1930s than anybody else I can think of, and his novels are true now. You can go into any pub and see it going on. (Doris Lessing)

His finest work can easily stand comparison with the best of this more celebrated contempories George Orwell and Graham Greene. (Sunday Telegraph) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

The Rosamund Tea Rooms is an oppressive place, as grey and lonely as its residents. For Miss Roach, 'slave of her task-master, solitude', a window of opportunity is suddenly presented by the appearance of a charismatic American Lieutenant. His arrival brings change to the precarious society of the house and ultimately, to Miss Roach herself. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 79 people found the following review helpful By reader-in-the-Fens on 14 April 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bombed out of her London flat, Miss Roach, thirty-nine and alone, takes up residence at the Rosamund Tea Rooms at Thames Lockdon. Here we encounter an array of lost, rootless, lonely people, the flotsam and jetsam of the War - the slaves of solitude.

The story unfolds through the eyes of the shy, self-effacing Miss Roach, a woman whose natural decency stands in stark contrast to the casual cruelty of the people around her; her fragile sense of self-worth, constantly undermined by her back-stabbing friend, the odious Vicki Kugelmann, the drunken ineptitude of her American lover, Lieutenant Pike, but most of all, her humiliation at the hands of one of Hamilton's most grotesque fictional monsters, the repellent Mr Thwaites - bully, narcissist, and Fascist sympathiser.

Despite the apparent tragedy of Miss Roach's situation, the pathos is relieved by Hamilton's unique black humour and his ability to write perfect, utterly convincing dialogue, infused with waspish comedy. Ever-present is the War itself, robbing the characters of their little comforts, dictating their everyday lives. An underrated, enjoyable, entertaining read. Great to see this wartime classic back in print again!
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Aug 1999
Format: Paperback
Congratulations to Michael Holroyd for using his influence to secure the re-issue of The Slaves of Solitude (and Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky). Hamilton's wartime England, viewed this time, not through the bottom of a glass, but through the eyes of a brave and decent woman who has been bullied all her life, is in my opinion his most moving work. A triumph from a writer who was himself sliding desparately downhill.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Pirlo on 14 Nov 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Along with Hangover Square and One Thousand Streets Under the Sky, this is a tremendous novel. Hamilton writes beautifully about a cast of dreadfuls- the parochial bores, the bitchy backstabbing friends, and above all the boozers.
It is rare to read a book set in the 1940s which still seems so contemporary. The humour is biting and the depths and subtletys of character equal to Greene, Waugh and their ilk. Hamilton's writing brings to mind the Martin Amis school of tales from the London gutter, but his characters are achingly alive and never seem cartoonish.
Read all three...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Louise the book worm on 6 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback
I was pressed hard by a friend to read the work of Patrick Hamilton, but that friend's fondness for all things dire and desperate had me worried. I'm so glad I read "The Slaves of Solitude" first; "Hangover Square" may be Hamilton's greater, darker work, but I prefer this slim novel. It has an emotional power, an outspreading empathy, a generosity of spirit, that I think George Eliot would recognise as having roots in her tradition, and which eclipse the more recognisably Dickensian black humour and characterisation.

Miss Roach, aimless spinster of a certain age, is suffering out the war in the quiet way that nobody ever talks about. Turfed out of a Blitz-hit London riddled with shortages, bans and insecurity, Miss Roach is in lodgings with a motley crew of similar people; elderly or middle aged, thrown together and merely existing in a grey suburban hell up the Thames. Dreary, dull, boring, and hopeless, Miss Roach's life is made almost unbearable by the torments of her fellow-lodger, the dreadful bully Mr Thwaites "by my Troth". Enter two characters who provide a change of scene and considerable excitement: an American lieutenant and one Vicki Krugelmann. I won't spoil enjoyment of the book by trying to describe all these people in detail: Hamilton, writing from Miss Roach's perspective, does it masterfully: this is what the book is all about.

The ending had me absolutely bawling: quiet, painful, sweet, unbearably sad and true, and not without hope. Just like poor Miss Roach. I can't recommend this book highly enough. A "shamefully neglected" author indeed.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 July 1999
Format: Paperback
This is without a doubt one of the greatest novels written about England in the Second World War - so why had I never read it until now? It's funny, cruel, compassionate, all the things that make Hangover Square, Hamilton's other major novel, such a joy. The characters - pitiful creatures in a suburban boarding house who bitch and drink their way through the War - are painfully vivid. The descriptions of sexual frustration, alcoholism and despair are spot on, and hilariously funny. I could rave on for the full 1000 words but I will say just one thing: READ THIS BOOK NOW.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. George Stevens on 5 Oct 2009
Format: Paperback
The 1939 - 45 World War left Britain and the British people exhausted and impoverished. Nowhere was the darkness and devastation more apparent than in London and its environs.

The meeting between a 39 year old spinster, living in respectable lodgings, and a young, brash American Lieutenant promised much but foundered in deception. A young woman of German origin was the catalyst for change. Among the fellow lodgers, Patrick Hamilton creates a monstrous character, Mr Thwaites, who causes pain and distress to all. Only an ex-Music Hall artist offers some sympathetic understanding, and that occurs only in his environment, entertaining children. A legacy enables Miss Roach to escape. Working for a publishing house promises continuity but little more.

Darkness pervades the book: black humour enlivens it. Silent hurts, small hopes, few expectations fill the characters' lives. Patrick Hamilton has created a picture of a grubby, damaged society, still clinging to its pre-war respectability and good manners; resilient after six years of war but with years to wait before the Swinging London and excesses of the 60s.
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