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4.4 out of 5 stars90
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 15 October 2015
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on 31 March 2014
I read this book as a teenager more years ago than I now care to remember. The story has always stuck with me, So much so that I had to source and read it again.
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on 16 July 2013
This book really gets the feel of 1930s Earls Court and the story is well-written and engrossing. The ending is a little predictable and a bit depressing.
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on 7 February 2013
Loving this author at the minute, it's dark and moody and a little bit sad! But we'll worth the time
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Set in Earls Court in 1939 this is the story of George Harvey Bone, an amiable introverted schizophrenic. Bone is an habitué of pubs and an aspiring associate of a rather nasty in-crowd centred on the manipulative Netta. Bolstered by a small win on the football pools Bone is able to make some headway by virtue of his largesse but never to be fully accepted. However, he does have friends from a happier and successful earlier career. Tension mounts as George Bone makes repeated attempts to win Netta's favour whilst all the time suffering increasingly debilitating attacks of his schizophrenia. This well written book successfully portrays 1930s pub life and bed-sit land in London whilst relentlessly increasing the suspense. Ignore the introduction in the Penguin version by J. B. Priestley, it is not very helpful.
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on 28 December 2008
Not a bad book but not one I would immediately recommend to anyone who was either wanting a story set in pre-second World War London or living with some sort of schizophrenic condition as the central character seemed to be afflicted by. The parallels of those who try to hang on to the coat-tails of those with celebrity status still resonate to this day.
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on 4 September 2004
one of Hamilton's finest novels.
he's a great writer, sadly neglected since his death in the early 1960s. very funny, very true, very real.
he's got a great ear for dialogue. no one writes a better pub scene'n Patrick Hamilton.
get into Hamilton today. he's the shane macgowan of modern literature!
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on 30 October 2015
lovely book will probably re- read it in next year.
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on 2 February 2016
a wonderful writer - thank you for speedy delivery
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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 around heavy drinking in pubs and in the flat of the only woman in the group, a would-be actress called Netta Longden. The description of the pub atmosphere and the aimless boozing culture is quite well done and is the best part of the book. Bone is hopelessly besotted by Netta, and there are many descriptions by him of her beauty. But these are all in similar terms and after the first few they add nothing to the narrative. I just found them irritating.

Netta despises Bone and frequently humiliates him. She tolerates him only because he has a few hundred pounds he has won on the football pools and can be manipulated to pay some of her debts. Bone has a form of schizophrenia that manifests itself by sudden changes of mood and memory loss, lasting from minutes to days, and the humiliation often centres on making fun of Bone's `dumb moods', as the group calls them. The description of these moods is repeated every time they occur in almost identical terms, and again I found this very irritating. It is during one of these periods that Bone decides he can no longer tolerate Netta's treatment of him and that he must kill her; and that he must afterwards return to Maidenhead, where he had spent happy times with his sister Ellen, now presumably dead.

Once the main characters are introduced, most of the rest of the book details the treatment of Bone by Netta and her friends, particularly the odious Peter, who Bone later includes in his death fantasies, and Bone's musings during his `dumb mood'. The action is rather repetitive: Bone is humiliated by Netta and decides it cannot continue any longer and he will break free of the group, encouraged by an old school friend; something happens that makes him hope that he still has a chance with Netta; then Netta's attitude to him reverts to its former mode and the cycle starts over. Increasingly I felt like giving him a good shake and telling him to make his mind up. Finally, he does action his fantasies. Some reviewers have described the ending as unexpected. On the contrary, it is entirely predictable. Bone has signaled his intent from the very first chapter, and what do mentally deranged people frequently do after they have committed murder? It is obvious that there was never going to be a `feel-good' ending.

Overall I find myself in the minority of reviewers who find this book a disappointment. At best it is a very minor classic, and I understand why the author's reputation has not stood the test of time.
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