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The Good Companions

The Good Companions [Kindle Edition]

J.B. Priestley , Dame Judi Dench , Tom Priestley , Barry Cryer , David Burrill , Ronald Harwood , Alan Plater , Lee Hanson , David Joy
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Product Description


* As cheerfully escapist for today's listeners as it was for readers when it first came out in 1929. The Times * Priestley was a grand writer...we should still listen to him, before time runs out...I am extremely pleased an effort is being made to re-kindle interest in this great writer. Beryl Bainbridge

Product Description

The Good Companions
J.B. Priestley

Great Northern
Rediscovering Priestley

Special Edition with extra content.

Three unhappy characters, Jess Oakroyd, Miss Trant and Inigo Jollifant flee from their old lives to seek adventure on the open road. Fate brings them together and into the presence of a broken-down theatrical touring company. Throwing caution to the winds they save the group and set off on an unforgettable tour of the pavilions and provincial theatres of England.
First published in 1929 in a time of deepening economic gloom and worldwide political unrest The Good Companions won The James Tate Black Memorial Prize for fiction, caught the public’s imagination and became a publishing phenomenon. Vigorous, optimistic and at times supremely comic it is also an exploration of English life, reaching deep into the decaying towns, dingy seaside lodging houses, market fairs and fading traditions of the 1920s. An England Priestley knew better than any other author of his day.
This special edition comes with forewords by Dame Judi Dench and Tom Priestley; first and last words by Barry Cryer and Alan Plater; an illustrated biographical background; and an exploration of the book’s major screen and stage adaptations with contributions from Sir André Previn, Ronald Harwood, Jan Francis, Janette Scott, John Fraser, Jeremy Nicholas, Judy Cornwell and Simon Green.

‘One of the great popular novels of the 20th Century.’
Paul Johnson, The Spectator

‘Priestley is a writer whom I admire. I remember reading The Good Companions in one fell juvenile swoop.’

Melvyn Bragg

‘Picaresque, picturesque…
If you have not read it I envy you, it lies ahead…’
Barry Cryer

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1776 KB
  • Publisher: Great Northern Books (25 Sep 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005PR5RKQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,460 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The other reviewers have explained the appeal of this book very well. It is now a period piece. There can only be very few readers alive now who can remember the concert parties and pierrot troupes that slogged their way round the variety halls and end of the pier theatres of Britain in the 1920s and 1930s. I recall my late father telling me that he remembered concert parties of precisely the kind described by J B Priesltey coming to perform on Shanklin and Sandown Piers in the 1930s. He added that they were all uniformly absolutely hopeless and awful but let's forget about that.

This book is clearly set after the beginning of broadcasting and during a period of economic depression so I guess Mr J B Priestley intended readers who read the book when it came out (1929) to regard it as a contemporary story. It was a huge success at the time and when I first read it many years ago I became delightfully immersed in the lives of the three main characters and their nomadic temporary hosts (The Dinkey Doos/Good Companions). We meet well drawn good hearted characters who are fully prersented with all their many qualities and foibles affectionately painted by the author for the pleasure of his readers. As they traverse the England of the Great Depression these latterday secular pilgrims witness the gamut of English society as Priestley knew it. There is no venom in Priestley's social observations on this occasion (c.f. his later work)- although cinema owners get a mild moral drubbing. Here we are focusing on the whimsical and the comical and the absurd.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolubtely lovely, charming book. 26 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This is an exquisite adorable tale of a theatre troupe travelling England in the first half of the twentieth century. Don't get me wrong, it isn't a soppy sentimental book, what I mean by my adjectives is merely that each character is so beautifully carved that they leap off the page and into your heart the instant you read of them. Again that sounds far more hideous than it is, in reality this is a nice book, one in which you truly wish each and every character well, and hold your breath in case anything nasty should befall them, but don't worry as in the best theatre traditions it'll all be alright on the night. Although very long I'm sure by the last page you will be wishing it was twice the length. In my opinion this book was Priestley's finest hour.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, entertaining and old-fashioned...... 25 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Good Companions has an excellent beginning. Three quite different characters all set out on a journey that culminates in their meeting up in Chapter 4. There is Jess Oakroyd from Bruddersfield (a northern industrial town) who decides to break free from his loveless marriage and heads south. Elizabeth Trant is meek spinster who is suddenly made free by the death of her father. She sets out by car to see parts of England she has never before visited. Young Inigo Jolliphant tosses aside his teaching job at an appalling minor public school and has no clear idea of where to go or what to do.

Via a series of adventures they meet up with a touring theatrical group who have fallen on hard times. Miss Trant decides to finance the group and takes over as manager. It is a sort of fairy tale according to the author but none the worse for that. It tells of the ups and downs of Concert Party life. The grimness of some of their digs, the dullness of the towns and the pathetic audiences are all brilliantly portrayed.

Priestley casts a Dickensian spell over the book with great sweeping descriptions of English towns and landscapes. The central characters are all well drawn and spring to life from the pages.

One criticism I would make is that The Good Companions is a bit too long. A modern editor would have given it a bit of a prune. But it is a charming, entertaining, old fashioned book.

The novels of Priestley seem to have gone out of fashion - a revival is long overdue!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars These Stumbling Chronicles 27 July 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
J B Priestley's celebrated and immensely successful award-winning novel, first published in 1929, has recently enjoyed a new lease of life with its re-issue, in an enhanced format, by Great Northern Books; the first professional revival, by the BBC, of the 1974 musical version with songs by Andre Previn and Johnny Mercer; the launch of yet another musical version; and a recent repeat, on BBC Radio 7, of the 2002 BBC Radio 4 adaptation. Now comes this welcome, if abridged (although 7 hours long), audiobook version in which the reader is Bingley-born Rodney Bewes (of The Likely Lads fame). The novel recounts the adventures of a touring concert party, The Dinky Doos, which renames itself The Good Companions. But this is by way of being the backdrop to a tale about three disparate characters : Elizabeth Trant, a young-to-middle-aged spinster from a Cotswold village, Inigo Jollifant, a piano-playing schoolmaster from the Fen Country, and Jess Oakroyd, a joiner from the West Riding town of Bruddersford, who go 'on the road' to escape their stifling backgrounds and seek a new and liberating way of life. Although the overall tone of the novel is optimistic the darker side of England in the Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s is not forgotten. After a somewhat muted start Rodney Bewes quickly gets into his stride and takes on the many characters in the novel with aplomb. There are useful contributions from Tom Priestley, the author's son and President of The J B Priestley Society and a suitably 1920s-sounding dance tune as a recurring musical theme. The packaging leaves something to be desired, however : there is no accompanying booklet and not even a list of tracks, CD by CD, with narrative cues, such as would enable extracts to be accessed quickly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Discovering English literature
The first English book I read in English for pleasure - wonderful.
Published 6 days ago by Anne-Marie Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A well appreciated gift
A classic that I wanted for my other half. In good condition, but it really is the contents that count.
Published 5 months ago by Freddo
5.0 out of 5 stars PRIESTLEY AT HIS VERY BEST
The Good Companions is Priestley at his very best. Introducing a succession of fascinating characters and a superb story with love and tragedy quickly following one another in a... Read more
Published 8 months ago by John G
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, characters you care about
I first read The Good Companions about twenty years ago, and I can honestly say that I've re-read it at least once every year since then. Read more
Published 10 months ago by John Pilgrim
5.0 out of 5 stars The Good Companions.
Ichose this because the author has wonderful descriptive powers both of scenery and of people. All the characters are closly observed and are credible'It is not a racy thriller but... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Terence Laarge
5.0 out of 5 stars The oldies. Are the best....sometimes!
Fantastic characters, great settings,good humour and very human..I can't believe it was written in 1911. It could be today. really enjoyable
Published 14 months ago by Christina Miles
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable read
It has been turned into a film several times, but no film can do justice to Priestley's marvellous writing. It has stood the test of time.
Published 14 months ago by Mr. S. Randle
5.0 out of 5 stars JB Priestley is a good read
I must have read the Good Companions before; some time.
I'd forgotten how good a writer Priestly was. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Thomas88
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Priestley at his best. Reading this book again after about sixty years (!) it is as fresh and enjoyable as it was the first time.
Published 16 months ago by Mr Tony Fincken
5.0 out of 5 stars Second time round
I first read the book some 50 years ago and I got just as much enjoyment on this occasion. Priestley is a master of descriptive writing whilst always retaining the common touch. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Keith Thompson
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