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Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky: a London trilogy (20,000 Streets under the Sky): comprising The Midnight Bell, The Siege of Pleasure, and, The Plains of Cement Hardcover – 1943


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 511 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (1943)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0014IO0QC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,965,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book. Publisher: Constable. Published: 1943. Comments: Introduction by J. B. Priestley. First reprint (first published 1935). Blue cloth, a little marked, rubbed to spine. Front hinge cracked. Pages good+, sunned with foxing to edges.

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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By moley75 on 26 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
These three novels are deeply moving. Most reviewers focus on The Midnight Bell which is the story of Bob and his involvement with a prostitute. It is convincingly written (apparently Hamilton wrote it while he was infatuated with a prostitute) and richly evocative. However, it is the The Plains of Cement that had me in tears at the end. Ella is twenty eight, in love with the oblivious Bob, and has a comfortably off middle aged admirer. Her struggles with her loneliness, her unsatisfying job, and the routine of her life, are so well written by Hamilton that my heart just aches for her.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dr. R. Brandon TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 April 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This modern classic tells the story of three characters, the waiter, the prostitute and the barmaid and is centred on a pub in the Euston Road, 'The Midnight Bell', in London in the 1930s. Originally published as three separate books, this trilogy was brought together and published under the current title 'Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky'. This is a tale of loneliness, longing and self absorption. It contains many biographical details from Patrick Hamilton's life and family and many interesting period details of a dull foggy London between the wars. Hamilton has a brilliant fluid style and it is clear how he became a successful writer for the theatre and film when the reader races through sections of wonderfully written and lively dialogue. The first book in the trilogy, 'The Midnight Bell' was published when Hamilton was only twenty four and whilst using excellent descriptive prose has a certain remorselessness that can become quite tedious. It is for this reason that I have suggested a four star rating rather than five which us entirely appropriate for the second and third parts of the book. I urge any reader who finds themselves flagging on the first book not to give up but skim and then savour the brilliance of the later two sections.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
If you have never heard of Patrick Hamilton, you are not alone. Described by the [London] Daily Telegraph as "a criminally neglected British author," Hamilton wrote nine novels from the 1920s through the early 1950s , along with the famous dramas of Rope and Gaslight. Almost Dickensian in his sympathetic attention to London's poor and struggling classes, Hamilton may finally be gaining the widespread public recognition he so richly deserves. A writer of enormous gifts, Hamilton's sense of time, place, and voice bring backstreet London in the 1930s alive with sense impressions. At the same time, he creates characters the reader instinctively cares about, even when they are being foolish. Three overlapping novellas filled with dark humor focus on three different characters associated with a pub called "The Midnight Bell," providing a close look at ordinary people living at the margins of society and doing the best they can in often fraught circumstances.

Bob, the bartender, is a young man for whom "Dreams were his life." Naively, he hopes to become a great writer, though he has not produced any work. Having inherited forty-seven pounds upon the death of his mother, he has scrimped from his small salary and tips so that he now has eighty pounds, a sum which symbolizes security for him. The arrival of Jenny Maples, a gorgeous, young prostitute whose pathetic story of needing money inspires his sense of protectiveness provides the turning point of this story. As she plays on his weaknesses, including his penchant for drink, he falls in love with her.

"The Siege of Pleasure" is Jenny's story, detailing her descent into prostitution.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
These stories are every bit as good as Hangover Square and Slaves of Solitude; Hamilton's regrettable overuse of capital letters for comic effect (she asked if he would Like to Go Outside etc)is their only fault. Hamilton' skill in putting his finger on the most complex feelings and emotions can be compared to Proust. Buy this book today, believe me you won't be disappointed!Thanks to Mr Holroyd for introducing Hamilton to a new generation of readers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
After reading Hangover Square, I thought that it must surely be his greatest novel. So I waited a while before reading another, expecting that I would enjoy it but that it would not be quite as good. But this tale of the lives of three essentially lonely Londoner's connected by the pub they all meet at, is an even more towering achievement. Hamilton's books speak of ordinary people's lives in grimy circumstances: of trasy loves and infatuations, lonely nights spent between rough sheets in a bustling city. He has a way of writing about emotions that consistently thouch something beautiful yet saddeningly dowdy. The way he sums up tawdry emotional situations in a somewhat whimsical yet tragic way, seems so effortless and easy, the way all true masters of crafts seem able to do. I love this trilogy. And I don't believe anyone who says it's too stuck in it's own time: infatuation, love, loneliness, the manipulation of human emotional needs. It speaks sadly of the human condition, which, as far as I'm aware, is pretty much the same as it ever was.

Along with Henry Green, Hamilton is one of the century's most shamefully neglected British novelists. Help change that!
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