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The Happy Prisoner Hardcover – 1948


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: The Book Club; First Edition edition (1948)
  • ASIN: B00102HLRC
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,661,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. P. Williams on 5 Dec. 2006
Format: Unknown Binding
The dashing Major Oliver North has lost a leg in action in WW2 and is back home in rural Shropshire with his quirky family and his pretty but very buttoned-up nurse, Elizabeth. Confined to bed, he nevertheless is the quiet centre around which the different members of the family work through their moments of triumph and crisis.One by one his sisters, friends and niece sort out their lives and move on, aided and abetted by Oliver. But what of Oliver himself? What are his feeligs for Elizabeth... and hers for him? What can an invalid, whose missing toes still twitch, offer a girl who would be the fiancee of the wealthy Arnold Clitheroe?

A delightfully observed world of a middle class family living through demobilisation, rationing and the tribulations of the human heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H Carlisle on 31 Dec. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Having read and re-read this many years ago I decided to renew my acquaintance with Oliver and the rest of the North family. However about half way through Chapter 7 something has gone very wrong with the transcription to Kindle. I had thought I'd noticed a couple of minor errors earlier in the book but, suddenly, it became a case of reading what word should be there instead of what it actually said! e.g. on't/don't ell/bell roduced/produced lot/not o/do oad/goad ou're/you're ill/will hade/made. All these errors were over a couple of pages in the middle of Chapter 7 so, having stopped to write this review, I'm not sure if the rest of the book will be more of the same. I hope not as translating from kindle gobbledekook has interrupted the flow of a good story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs M Timmins on 11 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Monica Dickens created a strong cast of characters in this absorbing novel. At first, because she describes the main protagonists of Oliver, his mother and sisters with unsentimental clarity, I wasn't sure if I would like them or want to spend a whole book with them, but by the end, I had been drawn into their stories and didn't want the book to end. The humour is woven in without sacrificing feeling, and her descriptions - of Oliver's room as the gathering place for the family, of Oliver's changing moods, and her sketches of minor characters such as the ghastly Honey - are a delight. I know I will come back to this again and again.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Monica Dickens died in 1995 at the age of 80. She is probably not as much read as she once was, but she still has her admirers, and her work was praised by such heavyweights as J.B. Priestley, Rebecca West, A.S. Byatt and John Betjeman. The Happy Prisoner, published in 1946, was one of her most successful books; it’s far from forgotten, and has now been made available for Kindle.

It begins on an autumn night at the end of the Second World War. A moth flies in through the ground-floor window of an old manor house in Shropshire. Trapped, it struggles with the light. It does not know that it is being closely observed by a man who lies in a bed in the window alcove, keenly aware of the moth’s texture, its colours, and of its struggles. “This moth, which had seemed such a nuisance... was really a show-piece, a miracle of skilled craftsmanship prodigally squandered on a single night’s existence. ...If this pattern had been on a shawl or tapestry, it would have taken months or years of painful, eye-straining toil.”

It is, we gather, not something the man in the bed would have noticed before. But Oliver’s leg has been blown off at Arnhem, and a shell splinter has damaged his heart; he is immobile in this bed, in its alcove, a little raised above floor level, comfortable, at the heart of his family. No-one really knows when he will be well enough to leave the bed. He has time to observe the behaviour not only of moths, but of humans. And he does so in a way that he has, it seems, never quite done before. Over the course of Monica Dickens’s quite long book (it’s over 100,000 words), the reader watches a family through the Oliver’s eyes, and sees a broad and beautifully-observed range of human behaviour.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By L. R. Fisher on 24 Nov. 2009
Format: Audio Cassette
A wounded soldier, back home with his family, persuades his horse-loving elder sister to accept a marriage proposal from a local farmer. With nothing to do but lie in bed and observe people, his success goes to his head and he begins to rearrange lives with disastrous results (plot of Jane Austen's Emma, yes, I know). It's a compendium plot and we get to hear different people's life stories. The final showdown involves a charming thief, a sensitive child, a wicked stepmother and his own nurse who's a bit of a Sleeping Beauty. Publishers please note: why are the audiobook versions of Dickens' sharply observant novels and autobiographies unavailable? Why can't we have some new versions?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tamara on 11 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
Monica Dickens as usual draws up a totally believalbe cast of characters, so that by the end of the book you feel you know them all personally and even miss them. Although not much action happens in itself - just the events in a family at the end of the war as seen by Oliver, a young man who is confined to his bed after losing a leg - it is so well written and has so many funny moments it made for a lovely read. The ending is perfect too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Schoolkeeper on 9 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A lovely old book set just after WW2 and dealing with the after effects on a middle-class English family. Nothing too startling or original but, as always with Monica Dickens, warm characters the reader can care about and a nicely spun plot. Unfortunately the misprints are truly shocking hence the low star rating.
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