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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden treasure
I loved this book! I read the L-shaped Room while following along with BBC Radio 4's Bookclub and did not know what to expect, never having seen the film. I absolutely loved it, drawn in from the first pages into a really evocative description of life and attitudes in England in the 1960's. All the characters were believable and the book keeps you guessing about the...
Published on 6 Jun 2010 by Jackie HD

versus
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me very disappointed
This book was really hyped up and I was so looking forward to reading it as I am of an age to relate to the time in which it is set. However I found it really heavy going and boring in the extreme. Would not recommend it.
Published 6 months ago by Dylan's mummy


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden treasure, 6 Jun 2010
This review is from: The L-Shaped Room (Paperback)
I loved this book! I read the L-shaped Room while following along with BBC Radio 4's Bookclub and did not know what to expect, never having seen the film. I absolutely loved it, drawn in from the first pages into a really evocative description of life and attitudes in England in the 1960's. All the characters were believable and the book keeps you guessing about the outcome right to the end. Itis a really easy read too.
Higly recommended.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite 'comfort reads', 18 Jan 2010
This review is from: The L-Shaped Room (Paperback)
I too first read this book at school in the early 80's and I have re-read it every few years ever since, it's very well written and draws you in so you are completely absorbed in Jane's world. The book hasn't lost it's freshness for me despite the fact that I have read it over and over and it's often one of my favourite books that I turn to when I feel disappointed with a recent read. My copy (that I've had since I was 13) is now looking rather unkempt but it's been much-loved, a bit like the L-shaped room itself. My husband has read it a couple of times having been intrigued by this scruffy little paperback that I kept rereading and he thoroughly enjoyed it too although it's nothing like his usual fodder - Clarkson and Tom Clancy.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, 14 Jan 2010
This review is from: The L-Shaped Room (Paperback)
It's the 1950s and twenty-seven-year-old Jane is forced to come to terms with the unpleasant realities of life for an unmarried, pregnant woman. Turned out of her home, fate leads her to a quirky bunch of souls among whom she learns more about life and herself than she could have imagined possible.

Readers of the totally modern perspective might be shocked by how marginalised women were in Western society a mere coin's throw back in time. Illegitimacy carried a hideous stigma for both mother and child, and Jane's situation isn't helped by her refusal to wear a wedding ring and pretend widowhood, so as to spare either society or herself shame. Her great aunt tells her she'll have to legally adopt her own child when it's born in order to give it her name and make it 'quasi legitimate'. 'The law pretends it's a waif or stray and that you're doing it a favour, and all is forgiven. The child becomes officially your adopted child instead of irregularly your own.' At Jane's disbelief, her aunt adds, 'I know, I know. The law's an a** (word for donkey I don't think I can use here).'

Wish I'd discovered this wonderful book years ago.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely fabulous read, 9 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The L-Shaped Room (Paperback)
I borrowed this book from a friend whose Mum had recommended it to her. Because of this I was sceptical at first but I thought what have I got to lose?
It turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read. Deeply touching and very evocotive it was so easy to become wrapped up in it that I read it cover to cover in a few days. I became so involved with the characters that I couldn't put it down and everything the characters go through, you feel as though you are there with them, every step of the way.
It was the first of a really amazing trilogy - the second of which, The Backward Shadow, I enjoyed the most. If you intend to read more than one of them please read them in order because the story unfolds so much better that way. I would encourage anyone to read this trilogy as it is a story which will stay with me for a long time to come.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Lynne Reid Banks, 3 Feb 2009
This review is from: The L-Shaped Room (Paperback)
My wonderful English teacher gave me this book when I was sixteen. I am now 46 and have read it 18 times. I was so taken with it, it catapulted me into a writing career. I now write novels for a living. It is still (apart from an Evil cradling by Brian Keenan) the best book I ever read, and I have read thousands of books. I went on to read the backward shadow and two is lonely, both of which are terrific as well. The love story is so enriching and beautiful in essence, you won't be able to put it down. Thank you Lynne Reid Banks for setting this author on her chosen road. Catherine Barry. x
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant and well written story, 31 Jan 2012
By 
Nicola "nicola_in_southyorks" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The L-Shaped Room (Paperback)
I bought this book on the back of seeing the film some years ago. I've only just got round to reading it, and only then because it was a book group read. I realise now that I have been missing out on a very good read.

This is the story of Jane, a 28 year old woman who finds herself pregnant and unmarried. Her father throws her out and she ends up living in a dingy l-shaped room in an equally dingy house in Fulham. Jane does her best with the room and ends up being quite fond of it, along with the other residents of the house: Doris, the landlady, Mavis, the nosy neighbour, John, the black jazz musician who lives in the next room, and most importantly, Toby, a writer to whom Jane grows close.

The book follows her pregnancy and how she deals with it. It was written in 1960 and so being unmarried and pregnant was still taboo, and it's interesting to read how people treated Jane then.

Being somebody who prefers a contemporary style of writing, I wasn't sure I would like this book, but I surprised myself by enjoying it very much. It's a pleasant and well written story, and it made me smile in places. I'll probably look out the next in the trilogy, and would also be keen to watch the film again now, to see how it compares.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight into the past, 23 Sep 2010
By 
C. Madden "maddca" (Birmingham UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The L-Shaped Room (Paperback)
I agree in the main with the other reviews. This is a very well written book, with humour, sadness, shock at the way people treated other people in the 50s. The plot is basically about a young woman who is pregnant following a short and unsatisfactory relationship, unmarried and therefore shunned by society as a whole. But she has guts and fronts it out, making her an unlikely herione.
What is really interesting about the book is the fact it was published in 1960 and therefore written in such a way that you know what the author has written about is authentic. The way that certain characters are treated and talked about; it's how it was then and not an author writing now and imagining how it must have been. There is no political correctness in the book (doubt such a thing existed then); she tells it like it was. I'm not saying it was right but it must have been accurate and so a good way to learn more about the era and the social issues of the time.
It's not an exciting book but one worth reading for the almost poetic style at times and the dialogue throughout is fascinating.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real feel-good page turner, 10 April 2003
By 
Fiona Brannigan (Newcastle, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The L-Shaped Room (Paperback)
I read this book several years ago and found it captivating. It sounds a boring read when you explain to people it's about a girl expecting a baby who has to leave home and moves to grotty lodgings and her relationships with other lodgers and the landlady. It's portrayal of the characters however and how they relate to each other is so authentic and moving, I couldn't put it down. Its very easy to read but not trivial or cliche'd in any way. To my utter delight I realised it was the first of a trilogy, which were equally as good but hard to track down-I found the other 2 on a 2nd hand stall.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oddly addictive, 23 Aug 2012
By 
R. Kay "omniphiliac" (West Country) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The L-Shaped Room (Paperback)
I am sure that Lynne Reid Banks was not aiming this book at 20-year old males but that's what I was when I read it first in 1984. I loved it then and have just re-read it afresh.

The writer evokes brilliantly the humdrum drabness of suburban London in the late 1950's (the book was first published in 1960): the corner cafes, the shabby streets, the coarse surliness of boorish shopkeepers (surely not all of them were like that?)and the drudgery of life in a slummy bedsit. In addition, her knack for really smoothflowing dialogue is faultless (it's hard not to read the dialogue at normal `talking speed` as it's so natural).

But was life really like this in the late 1950's? Maybe it was normal then to mistrust Jews, maybe it was normal to be startled by blacks, maybe it was normal to be wary of gays, maybe it was normal to mock the Catholics, maybe it was normal for male bosses to be so patronising towards their female secretaries, maybe it was normal for doctors to be so stern and for matrons to be so prim? All these glimpses give an oddly skewed idea of life for the modern reader but the atmosphere throughout is terrific.

I do have to criticise the `Great Aunt Addy` connection, though. She appears as a lovable, no nonsense, practical, bossy, kindhearted `deus ex machina` at Jane's lowest point and her departure from the story is as irritatingly predictable as her entry was unpredictable. Her role feels like a contrived convenience.

Lastly, if you remember that great 1970's sitcom, `Rising Damp`, I defy you not to consider whether the writer of that comedy had based his characters and the grimly grubby setting upon this book: Toby becomes the Richard Beckinsale character, John becomes the Don Warrington character, Jane becomes Miss Jones and, of course, the conniving, sly, nosy, mean, miserly landlady is re-invented as Rigsby.

I once lived in a soulless room in a dull little house with four others. The place had no personality, no character and no lasting charms whatsoever but I still think fondly of that room because I lived there at a very important part of my life, just as I was starting work and earning a salary for the first time. Jane's room in that shabby house has the same odd allure for her and that is a considerable part of the book's appeal - we can learn to love the most unprepossesing places if we can come to associate them with some happy memories.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good 1960's Classic - but with a few contrived coincidences, 4 April 2011
By 
Isola (Wiltshire UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The L-Shaped Room (Paperback)
The L-Shaped Room is a sensitive study of social morals at the dawning of the sixties sexual revolution. It's written in a journalistic style with an experienced eye for detail. It tells the story of a well spoken, unmarried girl from a good background who finds herself pregnant; thus homeless and jobless.

The L-Shaped Room is a cheaply constructed attic space in a seedy boarding house in a shabby part of London. The protagonist, Jane Graham, chooses this bug infested accomodation as self punishment; little thinking it could one day become her sanctuary. The house is filled with other 'misfits' of the era; social outcasts like herself with whom she eventually bonds to re-build her life and self respect.

This novel spans some pretty controversial material and accurately reflects the mind set of the late 1950s. However, it doesn't quite dispel all the pre-conceived notions of the day and although the author gives her heroine life choices, too many of these depend on contrived coincidences. Also, the ending is a bit shallow, but I believe Reid Banks has since written two sequels, 'The Backward Shadow' and 'Two is Lonely'.

Personally I'm going to stop while I'm ahead, but I am looking forward to watching the DVD for comparisons.
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The L-Shaped Room
The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks (Paperback - Jan 1971)
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