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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pinkie and the Greene
I have a lot of time for Graham Greene. I like people who are contradictions and Greene was certainly that. He converted to Roman Catholicism, was recruited into MI6 prior to World War Two, but also had affairs and spent time smoking opium in Vietnam. His books are comic and they are dramatic, his main characters hapless heroes or ruthless antiheroes. Pinkie Brown is...
Published on 26 Nov 2012 by Eponymist

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well read version of an average book
I sometimes listen to audio books when I'm doing long drives at night for my job. I've tried reading Brighton Rock a couple of times but have never really managed to get into it, so I thought this would be a good way to experience a book that I know a lot of people rate very highly.

On the positive side, this is a well read audiobook - the reader is engaging...
Published on 3 Feb 2011 by Cuban Heel


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pinkie and the Greene, 26 Nov 2012
This review is from: Brighton Rock (Paperback)
I have a lot of time for Graham Greene. I like people who are contradictions and Greene was certainly that. He converted to Roman Catholicism, was recruited into MI6 prior to World War Two, but also had affairs and spent time smoking opium in Vietnam. His books are comic and they are dramatic, his main characters hapless heroes or ruthless antiheroes. Pinkie Brown is Greene's most antisocial creation of all.

Brighton Rock is the tale of Pinkie's murder of a man called Hale and his efforts to conceal the crime. Pinkie is a young and precocious gangster. His murder of Hale triggers a ruthless grab of power and the narrative arc is like that of a seafront Richard III. Pinkie even has his Anne, a girl called Rose and the only person who could blow his alibi. Brighton Rock is a study in evil and the dark underbelly of Britain's seaside towns in the 1930s.

Graham Greene loved to travel and most of his best novels, Our Man in Havana, The Quiet American, Travels With My Aunt, are international affairs. British set novels like Brighton Rock and The End of the Affair tend to be less adventure romps and more treatises on the nature of religious morality. Pinkie and Rose are both Catholic and yet it is the irreligious Ida who pursues Hale's murderer. Like I said, I like contradictions. Greene had faith and yet he never stopped questioning religion or the people who use is as an excuse.

Brighton Rock is perhaps Greene's most famous novel, although I think he wrote better. Not many, but a few (see previous paragraph). Moreover, his novels have been generally well adapted for the cinema and Brighton Rock has had a couple of pretty good films of it made. Sam Riley is good as Pinkie in the 2010 version, but I still think Richard Attenborough nailed it in 1947. Attenborough captures Pinkie's heartlessness and ambition. Yet neither version takes massive liberties with the text and I can recommend both. Read the book first.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate anti-hero, 16 Jun 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Brighton Rock (Paperback)
A fan of Graham Greene, I consider this the best of his books I have read so far. Quite long for a Graham Greene book, I found this book literally impossible to put down and finished it in one sitting.
In Pinkie, Greene has created a character repulsive in his seeming amorality and ruthlessness, and yet one that you cannot help sympathising with. Considered one of the greatest villians in fiction, Pinkie's character slowly comes into focus as a victim too - and someone for whom redemption is visible on the horizon but always out of reach.
I have always found Greene a master at handling moral ambiguity, and Brighton Rock is an example of Greene at the height of his powers. Read this book for a well-crafted story, and one that makes serious points about the weaknesses of moral absolutism. Personally I think the ending is sheer genius.
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully crfated, gripping and disturbing book, 25 July 2001
It begins with one of the best opening lines in fiction, and ends with one of the best closing lines. In between, Greene reveals a seamy, dark underside to 1930s Brighton, where behind the facade seen by holidaymakers and racegoers the bookmakers are in thrall to razor gangs offering protection. Hale, the seedy journalist who dominates the early pages, soon emerges as merely incidental; Pinkie, a seventeen year old gang leader, is the central character, leading those around him deeper into his own downward spiral of evil. Greene never reveals how Pinkie knows Hale; but Hale's fear of the boy is clearly drawn, and like Hale himself, you realise the inevitability of his murder, and of the consequences that unfold thereafter.
Tremendous charcterisation of most of the main players - Pinkie is frighteningly nasty, the more so for his total lack of conscience; Rose, his weak-minded girl, is also entirely convincing, as is Hale, the catalyst for the story as it unfolds. I would have wished Greene could have done more with Spicer particularly, perhaps also Dallow and Colleoni, and I'm a little less convinced by Ida Arnold and her motivation for getting involved to the point of being Pinkie's nemesis.
Pinkie himself, though, is one of fiction's great characters, and perhaps merits a better demise than Greene gives him here. But in spite of these minor reservations, this is a tremendous book, still relevant now even after the slums that gave birth to these characters have been taken off the Brighton landscape, and still able to disturb the reader by picturing what humanity is capable of becoming in the absence of conscience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brighton Rock, 1 Dec 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
Published in 1938, this novel sadly still retains much that is relevant. Set in Brighton, the novel revolves around Pinky, a young anti hero and his attempts to take control of a criminal gang. When Charles "Fred" Hale visits Brighton, in the guise of `Kolley Kibber', his task is to leave various flyers around the town to allow readers of the "Daily Messenger" to claim prizes; a cash prize can also be won if he is recognised and challenged. Unfortunately, though, Hale is recognised by Pinky and his gang as being involved in the earlier murder of another criminal, Kite. Realising that his life is in danger, Hale finds fun-loving Ida Arnold on the pier, and tries to keep her with him as a witness - but it isn't enough to save his life.

What follows is a hideous chain of events, in which Pinky attempts by more and more desperate measures to cover up his role in the murder. These involve the naive young waitess, Rose, who is unknowingly a witness. Pinky, has, though, not counted on the determined Ida; who feels that she must obtain justice for the man she knew for such a brief time.

This is a journey through a sordid world of unremitting violence and desperation. Pinky is little more than a child, but, like so many young men who fall in with criminal gangs, he has made it his family and world. He is up against the much wealthier rival gangster Colleoni, reluctance to be seen as a leader from the men in his gang because he is too young, and events which begin to spiral out of control. His desperate need for respect and his loathing of being controlled and manipulated, cause him to become more and more desperate and violent as the book progresses. This novel is timeless - beautifully written, as you would expect, with an ending which still shocks. Not exactly a `joy' to read, but a thought provoking, intelligent and important book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cruel, intense classic, 18 Mar 2012
This review is from: Brighton Rock (Paperback)
In the 1930's Brighton, Kite is leader of the mob which dominates the gambling scene in the underbelly of the city. But when he is killed by a member of Colleoni rival mob, his young protegé Pinkie Brown takes over, only 17 years old. The revenge killing of Kite's murderer Fred Hale pulls Ida Arnold into the murky world of Pinkie and his mob. Ida decides to avenge the death of Fred, and thus sets Pinkie on a desperate path to avoid the noose. Accidental witness Rose is swept along with him.

This whole book revolves around the axis of its three principal and entirely opposite, characters. Pinkie is a product of growing up in the Brighton slum. He is a tortured Catholic believing in Hell but not Heaven. Dark, vicious and insecure, he carries his virginity like a wounded paw, revolted by his sexual instincts. His ruthlessness is such that even his mob constantly have to try to moderate his behaviour.

In a bright, sunny contrast to Pinkie, Ida is is an ageing temptress with Guinness breath and fabulous breasts who has a grounded belief in right and wrong. She is surrounded by friends, cemented in confidence and smacks her lips with satisfaction at how good life is.

In the middle we have Rose. She shares Pinkie's unfortunate background in the seedy part of Brighton set away from the beautiful seafront, but at an underdeveloped 16 she is a child still. Caught between the polar opposites of Ida and Pinkie, she could go either way, but her blind, reckless devotion to Pinkie sets Ida a near impossible task of saving her.

Right from the beginning this cinematic novel is intensely atmospheric, dark and haunting. Brighton, with its air, sea, and light is a perfect backdrop. Though this is a crime thriller above all else, it is also very much about the battle between Rose and Pinke - Her dogged love for him and his determination to keep her out of his heart. Cleverly, Greene has created an anti-hero that the reader always wishes will redeem himself and be saved. Occasionally we see glimmers of humanity as Rose's affection seeps through the cracks of his damaged soul, but we have no hint until the very end whether Ida will be able to save either of them.

In the end this book is brilliant, but unquestionably cruel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and satisfying, taut and entertaining, 29 May 2011
By 
Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Brighton Rock (Paperback)
Having read this early Graham Greene novel at school as a set text, and seen the 2010 Rowan Joffe film based on it, I recently returned to it. And I'm glad I did. It's a near-perfect blend of thriller and psychological character study, though far more morally ambiguous than I remember from my schooldays - and all the more enjoyable for being so. On one level, it's the story of a gangland murder, one woman's attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice, and of the gang leader's attempts to thwart her. On another level, though, it's a battle between two world views: on the one hand, Ida Arnold's secular framework where `right and wrong' are opposing poles, and on the other, the Catholicism-imbued moral universe of gang-leader Pinkie and of Rose, where good and evil do battle. For the chillingly psychopathic young gangster (one of Greene's best portraits, in my view), Hell - with a capital H - is, tellingly, a place, whereas heaven is conceivable - and then only barely - as a word, an idea. And unsurprisingly, there is for him only eternal damnation in consequence of the murderous, brutal life he has lived and of his corruption of the hitherto innocent Rose.

On this description, you would not expect him to be an attractive character. But as J.M.Coetzee observes in his penetrating, if brief, introduction to this Vintage Classics edition, his antagonist Ida, for all her `righteous' indignation, is shallow beside him. Equally, Rose, witness to murder and more than complicit in evading the older woman's attempts to bring Pinkie to book, demonstrates a loyalty, and ultimately a shared desire to embrace damnation as Pinkie has done, that perhaps suggests a horrible, fatal attractiveness to the Catholic schema, with its absolutes and certainties, that Greene himself felt. Pinkie may be beyond redemption, his twisted psyche seeing the possibility of a turn to God as the `beast' that prowls at the edge of his life: `God knows what it could do' if it got in, he exclaims in panic at one point (261). But he is vulnerable, in some senses a (very angry) boy trapped in a man's body, fending off all feeling and any idea of mercy and forgiveness because he has never experienced them.

In the end, the reader, it seems to me, is invited to feel more than a little ambiguous as to the relative merits of the two worldviews, those of Pinkie and the crusading Ida. Greene's genius, though, is never to sacrifice the action to the complex ideas that both underlie the work and drive it forward. It's a suspense-filled book, and the result is a novel that is as deep and satisfying as it is taut and entertaining.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book, 6 Sep 2007
This review is from: Brighton Rock (Paperback)
I love Greene generally but I have to say that this my favourite - not just my favourite Graham Greene but my favourite book. So tawdry, so sad - it is a bitter and nasty world painted delicately. I reread it once a year!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic modern classic, 26 Sep 2000
This is surely one of the great classics of the 20th century, a great social study and a little disturbing, especially considering Pinkie's junkie mix of religion and murder. Comparisons with A Clockwork Orange's Alex have to be drawn... to read both is to get a great insight into two of the most intelligent and evil minds in literary fiction. A great book, and perseverance through the first chapters really pays off - a great ending too.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating depiction of the seedier side of Brighton, 27 Mar 2010
Brighton Rock has gained a certain notoriety almost beyond people being very familiar with the storyline itself - many approaching it due to its connection with Brighton than due to a familiarity with Graham Greene. Its interest, and powerful documentation of a seedy 'underworld' - the 'shabby secret behind the bright corsage' - is emphasised in the fact a second film adaptation is currently being filmed.

The first time I read Brighton Rock, I was quite confused - as another reviewer has said, Hale is introduced to the reader seemingly as a central character only to fade away fairly soon after the opening - a very intriguing way of introducing the story. Pinkie is chillingly calm and calculating, and his pairing with Rose only serves to emphasise this. Some of the Catholic undertones were lost to me on first reading, but at whatever level, whether for its murder story or simply for its fascinating depiction of a run-down Brighton behind the bright facade, it's well worth picking up.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well read version of an average book, 3 Feb 2011
By 
Cuban Heel "Neil Schiller" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I sometimes listen to audio books when I'm doing long drives at night for my job. I've tried reading Brighton Rock a couple of times but have never really managed to get into it, so I thought this would be a good way to experience a book that I know a lot of people rate very highly.

On the positive side, this is a well read audiobook - the reader is engaging and the sound quality is crisp and clear. As far as the novel itself goes, the character of Pinkie I found fascinating. Really well rounded and brilliantly presented, perfectly encapsulating that tipping point between teenage angst and sociopathic violence. The problem I had, and I know this will be sacrilege to Greene fans, is the pace of the novel which was just so slow. In parts I found it incredibly dull. Some of the dialogue between characters, especially in the first chapter where Hale meets Ida, was really clunky and difficult to believe. There was just no authenticity to the conversations they had. Which was strange because, in contrast, the dialogue between Pinkie and his mob, Pinkie and Rose, Pinkie and the police etc. was really well done and extremely credible.

The frustrating thing, for me, was that a long dull spell would suddenly be broken by an extremely well written and interesting section, before lapsing back into mediocrity again. So I found the whole thing a bit patchy. I've given it 3 stars because the characterisation and the better sections rescue it from being a total disappointment, but it hasn't really inspired me to check out the rest of Greene's catalogue.
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Brighton Rock (Vintage Classics)
Brighton Rock (Vintage Classics) by Graham Greene (Paperback - 6 Jan 2011)
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