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The Slaves of Solitude [Paperback]

Patrick Hamilton
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

24 Aug 2006
"The Slaves of Solitude" is set in a wartime boarding house in a small town on the Thames. 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.

Frequently Bought Together

The Slaves of Solitude + Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky (Vintage Classics) + Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price For All Three: 19.58

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Product details

  • Paperback: 327 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (24 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845294157
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845294151
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,524 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.' 'His finest work can easily stand comparison with the best of this more celebrated contempories George Orwell and Graham Greene.' Sunday Telegraph --Doris Lessing<br /><br />'His finest work can easily stand comparison with the best of this more celebrated contempories George Orwell and Graham Greene.' --Sunday Telegraph

'His finest work can easily stand comparison with the best of this more celebrated contempories George Orwell and Graham Greene.' --Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Patrick Hamilton was one of the most gifted and admired writers of his generation. His plays include Rope (1929), on which the Hitchcock thriller was based, and Gas Light (1939). Among his novels are The Midnight Bell, The Siege of Pleasure, The Plains of Cement, Twenty-thousand Streets under the Sky 1935, Hangover Square 1941, The Slaves of Solitude 1947 and The West Pier. He died in 1962.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb wartime classic 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
5.0 out of 5 stars A long overdue reprint of one of Hamilton's best 16 Aug 1999
By A Customer
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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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, witty, above all, humane 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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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A forgotten masterpiece 21 July 1999
By A Customer
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
For a long time, this was my favourite novel, and I still think the 'dark comedy' in it wonderful, as is Hamilton's perception and espousal of human values and his witty exposure of the terrible tendencies towards facism in unremarkable bullies.

In this story - set during the dark days of World War Two- I believe, during the build up to the Normandy Landings and the turnabout of the war - we follow the adventures of Miss Roach as she defies supporters of facism in a Berkshire boarding house.

Miss Roach is lonely, but fiercly proud and indpendent. She has the misfortune to be unmarried at a time when that was a social disgrace, though she belongs to the generation where the majority of young men were killed off by World War One.

When the story opens she is working in London but bombed out of her rooms, has been staying at the ludicrously named 'Rosemund Tea Rooms'. There she has been selected as a special target by the elderly bully, the secret Hitler-admirer Mr Thwaites, who detests her quiet indpendence and support of democratic values.

When Miss Roach befriends Vicki Kugelmann, a German woman inexplicably stranded in wartime Henley (called Thames Ditton in the novel)she soon reveals herself as vain and vulgar, an eager accomplice of Mr Thwaites in his daily torture of Miss Roach. Man obsessed, she promptly sets to work to steal away Miss Roach's solitary admirer, the generous but 'inconsequent' and drunken American Lieutenant Pike...

In his own life, Hamilton's sexist views largly reflected the times, but his portrait of Miss Roach is a masterpiece of understated sensitivity, as is his
wonderful portrayal of all the characters in the book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece 1 Feb 2009
By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
This is a classic , a great World War Two novel in which not a shot is fired. It shows what the 'home front' was really like without any sentimentality but goes beyond that. The characters - the nice Miss Roach, the monstrous Mr Thwaites, and others - are brilliantly drawn. Not a book that you'll forget.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A window into Englishness... 17 April 2009
Format:Paperback
Miss Roach is exquisitely reserved, dignified, and true to herself; and her character remains such throughout.

What a beautifully measured work; the intensity of the boarding house dining room captures the pain of some of our repressed upbringings where appearance and dignity outweigh common humanity. The daftness of these performances! I could smell the house, feel the dark wood absorbing the candle light. Suffocatingly sweet.

Wonderful wonderful, delightfully delicate Miss Roach; how we want to get beyond her caution. But she wouldn't and won't, as she can't... let us into her careful construction. But how we wanted to find a gap in her armour.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay
Not really my cup of tea, I didn't really like the author's style of writing, but the story was bearable.
Published 2 days ago by karen archibald
5.0 out of 5 stars love this novel
I am a great admirer of Patrick Hamilton as a writer and this novel does not disappoint.
I recommend this read for those wanting a novel evocative of London and the WWII era.
Published 7 months ago by Renata
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
I've been a fan of Patrick Hamilton for a couple of years now ever since first reading 20Thousand Streets. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dale
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as good as I'd hoped.
A pretty downbeat and drab portrayal of a world far away from twenty first century Britain. I have no doubt this is an accurate view of the less well remembered life of people in... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Barista 1
4.0 out of 5 stars Experience the atmosphere of living through World War Two
I was questioning an auntie for family tree research and she told me that she hated her father, a merchant seaman, throughout world war two as he constantly bullied her (mentally... Read more
Published 8 months ago by realbookreview
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Hamilton
As a confirmed fan, I bought this book anticipating a treat and was not disappointed but, be careful!: the temptation to talk like Mr. Thwaites can be hard to resist. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jack Point
4.0 out of 5 stars Whither now?
Published in 1947, the book was written between 1943 and 1946 and carries the dreary feel of a country still slugging it out amidst bombings and shortages. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Officer Dibble
1.0 out of 5 stars The slaves of solitude
A bit boring and repetitive, no real story line, didn't really connect with any of the characters wouldn't recommend it.
Published 12 months ago by Theresa Marriner
3.0 out of 5 stars A story of all our world war II yesterdays.......
When I made the purchase I didnt appreciate that the tale was written so long ago - I quite enjoyed it although all the characters seemed to be grey but I think that was due to the... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Burt Boggo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Slaves of Solitude
This excellent novel is set within the confines of a boarding house in the fictional location of Thames Lockdon; said to be on the river and some miles beyond Maidenhead. Read more
Published 13 months ago by S Riaz
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