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Trouble at Willow Gables and Other Fictions [Hardcover]

Philip Larkin
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 May 2002 Lecture Notes in Computer Science
'I wanted to be "a novelist" in a way I never wanted to be "a poet",' Larkin confided in 1982. It has long been known that his two published novels, Jill (1946) and A Girl in Winter (1947), tell only part of the story of this thwarted ambition. Drawing on the papers deposited after his death in the Brynmor Jones Library, Hull, this volume collects together virtually all his remaining unpublished fiction. The book opens with works written under the pseudonym 'Brunette Coleman', including the two novellas, 'Trouble at Willow Gables' and 'Michaelmas Term at St Bride's', and the poem sequence 'Sugar and Spice'. The remainder of the volume is devoted to the unfinished drafts of two novels, 'No For An Answer' and 'A New World Symphony', on which Larkin worked after the completion of A Girl in Winter. It ends with two short débats of 1950 and 1951, which pungently dramatise his sense of failure as a novelist and his rejection of marriage. These works offer us two different Larkins: the precocious young writer experimenting with genres, and the 'serious' novelist searching for his voice in a prose medium which ultimately evaded his grasp. 'I tried very hard to write a third novel for about five years', he recollected later. 'The ability to do so had just vanished. I can't say any more than that.'


Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; First Edition First Printing edition (6 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571203477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571203475
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.6 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 516,534 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.

Product Description

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 WHSmith Award.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insights into Larkin's psyche 10 Nov 2006
Format:Hardcover
This is a very interesting collection, as it provides much of Larkin's prose in an unpolished form, and gives strong indications of what his erotic orientation was. Given the repressed era in which these fragments were written, one can sense Larkin's frustration and inability to be explicit about his leanings, although devotees of erotic flagellation will find evidence that he was a fellow traveller. A definite for Larkin enthusiasts, but still quite interesting to a more general audience.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blushing beneath the bedcovers! 17 May 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Philip Larkin will undoubtably be turning in his grave with the release of this volume. Containing all of the works he saw fit to 'shelve' in his own career, the book examines Larkin's 'author' period and reveals his sillier and more sinister side! Although 'Trouble at Willow Gables' is undoubtably a charming read, when taken in conjection with the numerous books about Larkin and his 'pre-occupation' with lesbianism it becomes more sinister and one gets the feeling that its release is not so much about helping the literary world come to terms with the loss of Larkin's genius but rather to make him look a bit of an idiot!
Buy it and read it if you love all things Larkin but if you are looking for the same sort of poignant misery and self pity that Larkin is loved for stick to 'High Windows'.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hard core Larkin fans only. 3 Feb 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a good book in and of itself but I would not recommend it to casual Larkin readers (like myself). The story "Trouble At Willow Gables" seems to me something that would appeal to teenage readers.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The spanking laureate 30 July 2002
Format:Hardcover
Hardened readers of spanking novels will find much to enjoy and bemoan in Larkin's Trouble at Willow Gables. Have no doubts, the former poet laureate is one of us. All the signs are there. He's good on uniforms, of course. But, more importantly, he can't help gravitating towards the buttocks of his schoolgirls. The heroine of his fantasy, typically, is a slightly plump girl with a big bottom. She enjoys her food. She is beaten with a cane by the Head Mistress. In the book's best scene she gets lost in a wood at night, tears her tight trousers at the seat, and is forced to face the morning with her bare bum hanging out. Lovely. Another girl rides bareback with no knickers. Larkin almost winks at the knowing reader when he shows his boarders having their bowel movements controlled: a hapless teenager is given castor oil by the matron for a tummy upset and then spends a terrible quarter of an hour in the lavatories. Wonderful. He was way ahead of his time here, but remains circumspect and slightly red-faced.
Willow Gables stands out mainly because of Larkin's skill as a writer. Firstly, he understands genre. He was steeped in schoolgirl fiction when he wrote this. He sticks rigidly to the rules. Secondly, he has the novelist's ability to weave character, plot and moments of poetic vision into a story.
The second novella, Michelmas term at St Bride's, isn't as good. It features the same characters when they get to Oxford. The same pre-occupations are present, but the tension created by the claustrophobia of a boarding school is missing in the sprawling world of the university.
His essay on schoolgirl fiction at the end of the book is illuminating. It gives all the basic elements.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 21 Aug 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
ARRIVED VERY PROMPTLY - PLEASED WITH PURCHASE.
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