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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WARNING! DON'T READ THE INTRODUCTION.
Firstly let me just say that i enjoyed this book very much, as it is the sort of lit
i usually go for, as i like books about outsiders, underdogs people who are at the edge of society who don't necessarily fit in, or don't want to. But anyway this isn't a review as there are people better at it than me.
This is just a warning that JB Priestly, the person who...
Published on 4 Feb. 2010 by sergio corbucci

versus
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At best a very minor classic
This book is set mainly in the Earl's Court area of London, with a couple of excursions to Brighton, in the few months leading up to the second world war. George Bone, an amiable, but vulnerable, young man without a job has drifted onto the fringe a small group of feckless people who exist largely by cadging money from friends and relations and whose social life revolves...
Published on 19 Mar. 2012 by Brian R. Martin


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a page turner for me, 15 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Found this book did not give me impetus to read more then the first few chapters. For me the mental illness of the central character was crudely done and unconvincing. Was hoping for more although J B Priestlys introduction seemed to damn with faint praise when he said Hamilton was one of the minor great authors of his time or words to that effect. Maybe there is a reason why Hamiltons work is relatively unknown today in the out of date description of a mentally ill man and more importantly his struggles in a world very different to today, although many other writers have successfully done so.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars worth giving a go, 22 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This book is tragic and frustrating to read but definitely worth seeing through to the end... you feel like shaking the main character George as he knows he should keep away from the femme fatale Netta but is like a moth to a flame and he can't seem to help himself in his hopeless adoration of her. Ultimately it leads to an unfortunate end - how much alcohol the group of cronies got through boggles.
Good to read a meaty piece of writing instead of the more recent wishy washy stiff that is flooding the market at the moment.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read, 13 Feb. 2010
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Bess_Wheat - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Set in the months before the outbreak of World War Two, this is a dark and tragic book. But one that is well worth reading. Tragically infatuated with the corrupt and twisted Netta, George Harvey Bone is beset with endless disappointment and can never quite realise his dream.

Filled with empty promises for a changed life, George is utterly and hopelessly trapped in a web of cruel people, saloon bars and loneliness. In fact, solitude and loneliness pervade this novel like the smoky atmosphere of the West End bars.

Each time I thought George had drawn strength to change and move on in his life - CLICK! - George flips into one of his 'dead moods'. He views the external world as if it were a film and can only focus on one thing. He must carry out his plan to kill Netta.

Although I felt this novel was rather slow to start, Hamilton skilfully draws the reader towards the character of George and it is easy to sympathise with him. At points, I found myself shouting at the characters in some vain attempt to stop the action clicking methodically towards the fateful, and upsetting, conclusion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 July 2014
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This review is from: Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another depressing bookclub read, 19 Feb. 2013
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I read this book for book club,the characters are unusual and quirky, but I didn't like any of the more at the end than the beginning and frankly I am fed up of stereotypes of callous women seen through the eyes of inadequate men, it's too much like a sad person's idea of real life for it to be an enjoyable read. The quality of the descriptions are good however and the writing style is excellent, I just wish the content was worth the effort. Where were the believable female characters?
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Probably not an overlooked classic, 22 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Patrick Hamilton was a writer whose early promise brought him admiration, positive critical reception and plenty of sales, but his fame and success faded in later years and for a time, this author and his works lapsed into obscurity. More recently, Hamilton's reputation has been revived with a BBC adaptation of one of his novels and reissues of his books, including "Hangover Square", in the Penguin Modern Classics series. For me, whilst this is a passable novel, it does not really belong in the "Classic" category. I can also see from the evidence of this effort (the first Hamilton book I have read) why this author's star waned.

There are a few reasons why this book did not totally convince or captivate. Firstly, Hamilton's writing varies from brilliant in places to decidedly clunky in others. To begin at the beginning, this novel opens with a dictionary definition of "schizophrenia"; not exactly the most subtle way for an author to tell us something about his protagonist. Said protagonist, George Harvey Bone, experiences repetitive thought patterns over the course of the novel, being obsessed with a certain course of action during particular "moods" that he experiences, a course that he appears to utterly forget each time the balance of his mind is restored. The repetition did, after a time, grate on me as a reader.

Hamilton does to some degree manage to evoke reader sympathy with Bone as the suffering victim of his own romantic obsession. Bone is fixated on an outwardly attractive but ultimately unpleasant heart's desire in the shape of Netta Langdon, an aspiring actress whose embryonic career has stalled and who spends most of her days and nights as Bone does: utterly inebriated. My sympathy was limited less because of Bone's lack of backbone than because of Netta herself, who is one of the book's major problems. She is something of a cardboard cut-out temptress whose motivations and machinations are distinctly obvious and to whom Hamilton chooses to give little life other than as a pure and simple antagonist to Bone. Netta's depiction not only evidences flaws in characterisation in this novel but highlights some of its less adept writing; for example, very early on the author elects to tell (rather than show) us, that there is not much to Netta: "Her thoughts resembled those of a fish - something seen floating in a tank, brooding, self-absorbed, frigid." The book, whilst written in the third person, is almost entirely from Bone's perspective; this leap to a description of Netta's thoughts (or lack of them) changes voice to that of the omnipotent narrator and the cracks start to show at this early stage. Later accounts of Netta are along similarly basic lines; it is clear that this character is not a real person at all.

To my mind the book never really hits a pace or flow that really engages. With a plot that is slight and holds no surprises, the writing and characters need to be strong and for me neither really hit the heights here. Hamilton does succeed at times in creating a sense of place but I am unconvinced that he is truly (as has been claimed on his behalf) a master of depicting the pub atmosphere or the boozing culture - I just did not feel myself taken there when reading of Bone's drifting existence. There is some good writing at times about a lonely person looking for companionship, and particularly how a person with little to do and not much going on in his life fills his day, but overall, "Hangover Square" does not really do enough to recommend reading this or for me to be minded to pick up any other of Hamilton's novels.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and edgy but doesn't rise to great literature., 28 July 2010
This review is from: Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
A dark story of a decent but mentally ill young man being tortured by Netta, the girl he loves and yet sets out to kill.

George Bone is a decent young man infatuated with Netta, a thoroughly nasty aspiring actress who uses and abuses George. George however is mentally ill and flips between personalities. In his `Dead' moments he sets out to kill Netta.

Set in London's seedy Earl's court in the 1930's this is the story of a group of bad friends united around their infatuation with Netta and alcoholism. George is the fall guy of the group and only hangs on because he is insanely in love. The tension in the story arises from George's other self and whether or not he will succeed in Killing Netta before good George does as his friends urge and makes a new life for himself. This of course gives the book page turning tension and the contrast between the decent but sick George and the thoroughly nasty set he has fallen into creates a moral ambiguity about George's murderous side.

Whilst this is an enjoyable read I would not have classified it as a classic. It's well done, dark, but for my money it's essentially throwaway fiction. I assume that Penguin have included it in their series in recognition of Hamilton's stature as a writer at the time - he wrote Rope for example, which Hitchcock made into a film. Professional writers often enjoy writing of this kind where dark forces drive the characters, whereas for me it's a sort of niche.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not a classic, 3 July 2010
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This review is from: Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I have a vague ambition to read all the Penguin Modern Classics. I saw this was based in London and written during the mid twentieth century and it interested me.

I'm not going to cover the plot as this has been amply covered by other reviews here. I'll stick to my opinion of the work.

The cover describes it as a black comedy. I missed the comedy bit - but it is dark. It's a good read and has some wonderful moments. Near the start there is a wonderfully cold line as George sits in the train returning to London from spending Christmas with his Aunt: "And the sea purred gently. Dismal, dismal, dismal."

This sets the tone for George's return to London. I often felt that I wanted to shake George and implore him to leave the exploitative and non-relationship with Netta and Peter. However the character is built plausibly enough that one can imagine him not grabbing hold of himself and realising some potential.

So why do I think the book deosn't merit the 'classic' tag? Well it's because of the repetition in both the storyline and the text/descriptive narrative.

First, the narrative. As George snaps into his 'dumb moods' Hamilton fills a page describing the process each time. But of course there aren't that many ways to describe it, so he ends up repeating ideas. Even if he didn't repeat the same words, I would have found the technique annoying and I ended up skipping this text. It's not the only example. There are other places where Hamilton repeats the same simile rather than think up something new. At least twice a character is described as having 'school bully' eyes.

Secondly, the plot. It's basically a series of scenes in which George gives Netta money or something she craves so that he can accompany her out on a date. Every time Netta renages on the deal in some manner after she has had George's money and he feels used. In this way it reminded me a little of the "Wodehouse storyline" with Jeeves and Wooster (Jeaves remarks that he doesn't like something new Wooster has bought, Wooster gets in a fix, Jeeves puts it right, Wooster discards the item...). The mood is quite different but the feeling of having read this all before and knowing what's going to happen is the same.

These repetitive episodes are punctuated by the 'dead mood' sessions where George plots to kill Netta, and then from about half way through he adds Peter to the list. At least these do progress.

So, it's an entertaining enough read with some nice bits of descriptive narrative. But as a novel it is flawed and not good enough to ba termed a "classic". If there were 3 1/2 stars I would award that, but being a generous sort I'll give it a grudging 4.
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4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Atmosphere, Dialogue and Description, but the Main Character Was a Fool, 8 April 2009
This review is from: Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Published in 1941, this book has been called Patrick Hamilton's best novel. It was set mainly in London in the nine months leading up to the outbreak of World War II. It followed the disordered emotional life of a sensitive, educated man living off savings and passing time with lowlifes in cheap Earls Court apartments and West End bars.

For this reader, most memorable were the depiction of bar-hopping, hoped-for camaraderie, and overdrinking with anyone available to stave off loneliness, especially in the book's first half. But the novel's main focus was the naive man's pathetic infatuation with a failed actress. Here the author showed his flair for dialogue, particularly with the soulless woman's catty remarks, and describing her heartless behavior. And for portraying the man's fragile psychological state, as he kept losing his bearings and groping his way back to an understanding of who he was and what he was doing. The author suggested that the lowlifes' behavior reflected the impulses that had led to fascism on the Continent, though he omitted to write anything about Stalinism or the USSR's pact with Germany.

Eventually, in the book's second half, this reader began to find the man's masochism with the woman less credible and harder to bear. He kept repeating a cycle of excitement, anger at betrayal, murderous intent, and loss of will, which snapped his mind back and forth a few too many times. I kept wanting to urge him to stop being a dupe and a dope, to stop whining and get on with it. By the end, he seemed much more distraught by the thought of betrayal by his noble male friend than by the woman he supposedly loved, and happiest when finding acceptance by his male "betters."

Another book that described mental disorder and sexual excitement using shifts in time and location, more powerfully in my opinion, was John Franklin Bardin's Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly (1948). For a more extensive depiction of the West End joined to fascinating knowledge of the London netherworld, Gerald Kersh's Night and the City (1938). And for blood-curdling menace, Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me (1952).

Some excerpts from Hamilton (first half):

"But, of course, he could not see what George could see -- the wet winter nights when the door was closed; the smoke, the noise, the wet people . . . Mickey drunk and Peter arguing: mornings-after on dark November days: the dart-playing and boredom: the lunch-time drunks, the lunch-time snacks, the lunch-room upstairs: the whole poisoned nightmarish circle of the idle tippler's existence. He saw merely a haven of refreshment on a summer's day."

"She was supposed to dislike fascism, to laugh at it, but actually she liked it enormously. In secret she liked pictures of marching, regimented men, in secret she was physically attracted by Hitler . . . . She liked the uniforms, the guns, the breeches, the boots . . . the shirts . . . And somehow she was dimly aware of the class content of all this; she connected it with her own secret social aspirations and she would have liked to have seen something of the same sort of thing in [England] . . . . She read practically nothing; she did not respond to music or pictures; she never went to the theatre and very seldom to the movies . . . . She only liked what affected her personally and physically and immediately -- sleep, warmth, a certain amount of company and talk, drinks, getting drunk, good food, taxis, ease . . . . She was atrophied. She looked like a Byron beauty, but she was a fish."

"'Click' . . . That was the only way to describe it. It was like the click of a camera shutter . . . A shutter had come down over his brain: he had shut down: he was shut out from the world he had been in a moment before. The world he was in now was the same in shape, the same to look at, but 'dead,' silent, mysterious, as though its scenes and activities were all taking place in the tank of an aquarium or even at the bottom of the ocean -- a noiseless, intense, gliding, fishy world. It was as if he had suddenly gone deaf -- mentally deaf . . . It was as though one had gone into a sound-proof telephone booth and shut the door tightly on oneself."

Second half, one example of many:

"Had the opportunity now arisen? What was the meaning of what had just taken place? . . . Was she just playing him up because she was short of money again? . . . Well, what if she was? . . . Did he still love her in spite of his knowledge of her? He looked into his weary soul for the true answer, and found it soon enough. Yes, he did, God help him. He adored her, and he would never do otherwise . . . He knew he was making a fool of himself; he knew he ought to run for his life; but how could he? . . . Life was very exciting. He was going back to see her in a few minutes. He was going to be a man at last. And by the way, if he was going to be a man, he wasn't going to have any nonsense."
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 7 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
As described, book vg, delivery slow.
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