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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2010
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 wrote the introduction
(in my penguin paperback version at least) has decided it his his job to tell us what happens at the end of the book. I can't really imagine why anyone in their right mind would do this, but i don't think it's necessary and if you don't want to find out what happens before you've read it, leave the introduction alone untill you've finished the book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Described by the [London] Daily Telegraph as "a criminally neglected British author," Patrick Hamilton wrote nine novels from the 1920s through the early 1950s, along with the famous dramas of Rope and Gaslight, and though he earned the admiration of a host of famous authors, from Graham Greene and Doris Lessing to Nick Hornby, he never achieved the popular success he deserved, either in his own time or throughout the twentieth century. In this decade, however, virtually all his novels have been reprinted in both Europe and in the US, and he is finally beginning to be recognized for his astute observations about his times and for his insights into the minds of his characters.

Indicating in the subtitle that this is "A story of darkest Earl's Court," Hangover Square is set in what was then a seamy, low-rent district of London, a place in which those who were down on their luck, out of work, or homeless could manage to scrounge through life. Bars and cheap entertainment provided evening activities for people who often did not get up before noon. George Harvey Bone, the main character here, is out of work. Like the other unemployed and under-employed people he associates with, he lives on the fringes of the entertainment business-part-time actors and actresses, managers, and movie makers who party long and hard, fueled by massive quantities of alcohol.

George's drinking might have triggered his earliest his "blackouts," but here they have become more frequent and more debilitating--psychotic episodes of schizophrenia which end with the demand that he kill Netta Longdon to save himself. Netta is a failed actress--a beautiful, spoiled, and manipulative woman who ignores George except when she wants money, a woman who sleeps around with his friends (though not with him), and uses him. He is so desperate for her attentions, however, that he allows himself to be degraded, always hoping that she will see him for the person he really is. As he is driven closer to the edge and as his "dead moods" get closer together, the suspense grows. "Getting killed would serve her jolly well right," he rationalizes.

The narrative line, which takes place inside George's head, is strong and emotionally affecting, and though many contemporary readers will be frustrated at George's passivity in the face of Netta's abuse, few will fail to empathize. Based in part on his own life, the novel is an intense psychological drama written by a man who became an alcoholic at a young age, after being disfigured in an accident. Frequently developing passionate but unrequited attachments, he wrote about these women in his novels. Famed actress Geraldine Fitzgerald was recognized as the model for Netta Longdon, something her obituary confirms. Mary Whipple

Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky: A London Trilogy (New York Review Books Classics)
The Slaves of Solitude (New York Review Books Classics)
The Gorse Trilogy: "The West Pier", "Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse", "Unknown Assailant": "The West Pier", "Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse", "Unknown Assailant"
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2003
I highly recommend "Hangover Square" as a good read. Hamilton is a sadly neglected novelist, and "Hangover Square" one of his best novels. Writing during the 1930's and war years, his books capture the essence of loneliness, some hopeless, empty, tragic quality of the human soul. George, through whom the story unfolds is a lonely bachelor who frequents the dingy Earls Court of the period; gas-lit bedsit land, sleazy bars, the pub-land drifters and no-hopers, low-grade hotels, Lyons tea houses - this is the world which Hamilton so sensitively and so achingly captures.

The tormented George pursues his "ideal", the cruel, amoral Netta, to the point where his obsession with her becomes sick and destructive. Behind this agonising tale looms the shadow of the imminent world war. A brilliant, dark, gripping story.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2002
This book has to be among the best novels of the last century. It is tragic, funny and moving. Hamilton was an outstanding writer whose understanding of seemy pub life and the dark side of drinking has never been bettered. Martin Amis would kill to have this much talent or an ounce of Hamilton's compassion.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2000
I fell in love with the title first. I found it in a second hand shop. I've had to buy three more copies since as they've got ruined through late night reading.
Hamilton captures speech and the cruelty of life with an accuracy rarely seen in novels of this time. It is so very English, the weather is drab yet you always think there might be rainbows in the puddles. Despite this it reminds me of a lot of US novels, particularly 'Ask the Dust' by Fante and 'The Lost Weekend' by Jackson.
It's beautiful, despairing and at times excrutiating . A classic that has fallen down the cracks in the corridor of history, this is the perfect book for when the rain's hammering at your window and you realise it's six months until summer. Gin soaked genius
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2011
'Give me a really good read' I said to to an academic friend of mine who teaches English literature over, appropriately, a post-Christmas drink. 'Hmmm' he pondered and then smiled knowingly, 'try Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton. I reckon you'll like that one'. Good enough for me I thought and two days later, there it was, sitting on my doormat, courtesy of our old friends at Amazon (crikey they've done well out of me over the years).

And what a read it is. Hamilton pulls you into the sad, seedy, drink-sodden (but irresistible) world of pre-war London. We are in the mind of schizophrenic George Harvey Bone, a loveable loser caught in the grips of a mean and heartless group of boozy 'friends', who take his money and goodwill without the slightest shred of guilt or remorse.

Despite knowing he's being taken for a ride ('I've been such a fool' Bone tragically confides to his only real mate), he remains in the pernicious orbit of this cruel and heartless mob, unable to pull himself away. Why? Because of his doomed, and, needless to say, unreciprocated love for the cold and manipulative femme fatale at the centre of the Black Hart public house drinkers, Netta.

The mark of Hamilton's work is one yearns for the gentle, ever so lonely Bone to escape his torment; to be rid of these callus parasites forever - 'go to Maidenhead, go to Maidenhead, George!', I heard myself shouting at the page, raising a few worried looks from passengers on the Bakerloo Line during my dull Monday morning commute (read the book - the Maidenhead reference will become clear).

But of course poor Bone can't escape and therein lies the tragic destiny of this wonderful, compelling and brilliantly written story.

Do yourself a favour - buy Hangover Square right now, tell the kids to watch some episodes of Scooby-Doo on DVD ('old' Scooby-Doo of course, not the vastly inferior 'new' Scooby), settle down in your favourite armchair and read the best book you're going to read this year.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 October 2002
An unusual and gripping book. The sheer injustice that is suffered by George, the central character, is balanced with our knowledge of what is REALLY going on in his head when he has one of his 'dead' moods... terrible murderous thoughts unknown even to kindly George himself. Thus we see-saw mercilessly back and forth along with George's own unacknowledged schizophrenia, seeing him unwittingly inching closer to his ultimate revenge - a revenge that we realise must destroy him too.

It's impossible not to feel compassion, frustration and sadness when reading this book. Hamilton's use of dialogue and spare description perfectly evokes both the glitz and the seamier sides of pre-war London, a London which he himself had seen and experienced. Indeed my one cautionary note would be that the old fashioned London dialogue and vocabulary may be tricky for some non-British readers to follow.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2000
I found this book through the recommendation of another reader on Amazon.co.uk and was delighted to do so. This is simply brilliant. No other book I have read has captured the mood of a single moment in history quite so well. Like Ullyses in its minute observations and with the momentum of a Graham Greene this is a classic which deserves more fame. It is one of my top ten ever. (Don't mistake it for a case history of schizophrenia, though, as the introductory notes suggest. By our contemporary definitions he would have a recurrent dissociative state.) This is the only thing I could find wrong with this book. It is as close to perfect as one could ever want. Sensational.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Hamilton's characterisation and sense of diction mean that this a novel as re-readable as any by an English author in the twentieth century. The pathetic figure of George Harvey Bone lurches through a perfectly described Dreary Twenties London trying to maintain his sanity and rid himself of his infatuation with a petty and cold actress. The author's sense of tragedy on the small scale echos through all of his better work: this novel, and also The Slaves of Solitude and Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky.
His humour, his understanding of frustrated sexuality, his cruelty (the author is God in any novel), and his ability to humiliate pathetic but sympathetic characters puts him up there with Nobakov - just a pity Hamilton couldn't have cleaned up his act and kept writing as well as this. However, his work being of a vaguely (very vaguely) autobiographical nature, he had to drink himself to death after writing a number of poor quality later works. This, though, is an absolute gem of a novel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2010
Just a warning that the idiotic foreword to this great book rambles for a few pages and then suddenly, and with no warning, ruins the plot for the whole story in a single sentence. God knows what the publishers or the introduction writer were thinking. Do NOT read it. Apart from which its not a good intro anyway.

Thankfully all was not lost as this is a superb, taut and atmospheric novel that took me to the smoky, dingy pubs of 1939 London. George's obsession for a dreadful girl and his increasingly severe schizophrenia unwind into a tragedy full of frustration, loneliness, cruelty and lots of booze. A great read.

The prose is so closely hitched to George's thoughts that in places the pace can drag slightly, but never for long. I also found the snippets of poetry and thesaurus entries distracting.
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