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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taking a back seat
This novel concerns the struggle and heartache of love, which may be erotic, filial or even unrealised, amongst the servants of a large Anglo-Irish country house during the Second World War. Because Ireland was neutral in that war there is much fear of either invasion to provide an offshore attack base on Britain, or that the servants, who are all originally from England...
Published on 14 Sept. 2009 by Eileen Shaw

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unusual read
This is a book of it's time. It's strength is its descriptive casing, with highly original language. I found it slightly offputting at first as there were no chapters, just the occasional breaks in the prose. Much of the narrative is in dialogue which gives it a sense of movement, although the plot is fairly slow with not much actually happening. It is set in the Second...
Published 10 months ago by Bertha Barlow


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taking a back seat, 14 Sept. 2009
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Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Loving (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This novel concerns the struggle and heartache of love, which may be erotic, filial or even unrealised, amongst the servants of a large Anglo-Irish country house during the Second World War. Because Ireland was neutral in that war there is much fear of either invasion to provide an offshore attack base on Britain, or that the servants, who are all originally from England may be forced to return to England and join the fighting. Other problems involve: a missing sapphire ring belonging to the lady of the house; an evacuee who doesn't have the requisite servility; and affairs of the heart, particularly that of the new butler, Charley Raunce and a parlour-maid, Edith.

In his introduction to the book, Sebastian Faulks makes the point that the dialogue, though extremely naturalistic, does jar at times particularly when nothing much is being said. However, he insists that it is necessary for the atmosphere and social culture of the servants to be understood. I agree with that summation but would also add that even when nothing much is being said, other things are going on that show through the dialogue. When an insurance investigator with an unfortunate lisp arrives to look at the situation with the missing ring, the family are not at home and the servants have to deal with him. That the following evening meal in the servants' dining room is punctuated by uproarious laughter as they take it in turns to imitate the investigator's lisp, is very telling. The servants are united against what they perceive as a slight on their probity, and this is how they take revenge for the injury to their feelings.

This very small and enclosed world is wonderfully exposed by Green's tremendously skilful writing. He takes a back-seat as a writer, most effectively, leaving his characters to be centre-stage at every moment. Only occasionally the conventions intrude to remind us that someone has written this work, rather than taken it down verbatim from life. It is a wonderful achievement and a very engrossing read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unusual read, 14 April 2014
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This is a book of it's time. It's strength is its descriptive casing, with highly original language. I found it slightly offputting at first as there were no chapters, just the occasional breaks in the prose. Much of the narrative is in dialogue which gives it a sense of movement, although the plot is fairly slow with not much actually happening. It is set in the Second World War in Ireland with a political backdrop of the IRA. Socially, it is an upstairs/downstairs setting with the interaction between the servants, especially when the Mistress goes away. The new butler, Raunch, is a central character and their is a love story within it also.

It is worth reading if you are interested in that period, where greater luminaries were at play, such as Virginia Woolf. Not sure I would recommend it otherwise.
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Loving (Vintage Classics)
Loving (Vintage Classics) by Henry Green (Paperback - 29 Mar. 2001)
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