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41
3.9 out of 5 stars
England's Lane
Format: Kindle EditionChange
Price:£4.99
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
A gentle, yet often searching take on the dark underside of outwardly normal and respectable lives in a Britain still finding its feet after the Second World War.

Connolly tells the stories of a number of occupants of the same street in late 1950s London, as they look for a purpose in a society on the cusp of radical change.

The strength of the book lies in Connolly's ability to give each different character a credible voice, however incredible their particular circumstances and behaviour may be. A hotbed of lust, deceit, sadness, melancholy, indifference, despair, not to mention murder, this street, for all its apparent normality, provides a backdrop to drama in both major and minor keys.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2014
The story, mainly told through interior monologues, is one of the protagonists' secret failures, disappointments and longings. The plot includes murder, adultery and deceit, but all carried out in the apparently respectable street of small shop-owners in 1950's London.'black humour'. The humour, where it occurs is broad and rests on implausible characters and actions. The characterisation is also broad - there is little development and the interior monologues become repetitive. They also slow the action to snail's pace without furthering any understanding - the fact a character enjoys a piece of fruit cake is simply not worth repeating.
I also found the writing itself dreary and repetitive. The qualifier 'so very' is used by all the characters, except for the rough, working-class character, who always speaks inn a rough, working class way! The casual sexism and racism of the times is replicated in this book, without reflection. As indeed the characters are all stereotypes, so it is perhaps apt.
No, I didn't like the book and am amazed at the positive reviews. Most people have far more patience than I do, obviously. And, yes, I do like Virginia Woolf and most of James Joyce.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 February 2014
Though the switching of a kind of direct speech/though mode between characters is at first intriguing, the length of each peroration does pall after a while, and the indulgent way each character rambles on doesn't maintain much of a sense of suspense. My first Connolly, and something of a disappointment.
Perhaps I had just hoped for a more positive view of one of London's 'villages'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 June 2013
A beautifully written book, capturing London in the 50's perfectly. The language used was exquisite. I had many reminders of what it was like as a child growing up due to the author's excellent description of not only products of the time but how people lived. Of course, there were also several plots which, as they unfolded, kept me engrossed until the very end. An unusual, yet charming, book and one which I am pleased I took the time to read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2013
It's Winter, 1959 and three married couples: each living in England's Lane, each with an only child, and each attending to family, and their livelihoods - the ironmonger, the sweetshop and the butcher. And each of them hiding their lies, coping in the only way they know how and so we meet Jim and Milly, Stan and Jane and Jonathan and Fiona.

Connolly slowly builds up each character, pulling you into their lives and just like real life, invites you to make judgements and assumptions about them. So is Milly being a genuine neighbour when she offers to sit with Jane and as she does, you begin to feel nervous for her. His writing style moves effortlessly between the characters much in the same way as you'd walk along any 1950's suburb street in England and there are wonderful depictions of behaviour so that you can easily visualise Jim sitting at his kitchen table moaning or understanding Fiona's thoughts as she lives with her husband's infidelities.

This is novel set, at a time when Connolly was growing up, is based on a real North London street that still has the pub and the chemist however now without the butcher nor the sweetshop but the obligatory Starbucks in many ways this street could be in any English town. Connolly stresses it is in no way autobiographical but for any reader who lives through the late 50's/early 60's this will be a brilliant reminder for them what life was like
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2014
Having grown up in Englands Lane in the 50's I was looking forward to this book but found it a disappointing read and didn't finish it. The combination of fact (sometimes inaccurate) and fiction with an undercurrent of misery jarred with my memories as did the characters some of whom were obviously based on real people who inhabited the Lane at the time but portrayed very differently from the people I remembered.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2014
Well written in parts but a little boring and tedious in others.

Sometimes difficult to follow especially if you don't read it in one go.
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on 27 July 2013
England's Lane, London, 1959. Even in a big city such as London, your life can be pretty well confined in a nutshell. It happens all the times to most of us, no matter where we live, at the end of the day our life consists of interacting with a small bunch of people. That's what happens to Mill - sort of the protagonist of the novel - and all the other characters that live in England's Lane, dealing with each other every day, talking about each other all the time. England's Lane appears to be some sort of claustrophobic place, everybody's life controlled by everybody else. Despite that, sometimes appearances can be misleading, as the very same Milly understands: "One of life's lessons that always and stubbornly one refuses to learn: the simple truth that never do you really know any single thing about anyone on earth".
"England's Lane" is a book about people, their lives, their dreams, their stories, their skeletons in the closet. Sometimes I found it slightly long-winded, but overall I enjoyed it. I also liked the frequent swapping of the point of view, which allows the reader to gain a deeper understanding of the characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2013
What a great story, well written really enjoyed it. I wanted the story to go on. Will look out for more books by Joseph Connolly.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 August 2014
I bought this almost 18 months ago, and it's sat on my Kindle waiting to be read.
It tells the story of a single street, the England's Lane of the title, over a year in 1959 and just into 1960.
Initially I found the method of storytelling - switching from character to character, and generally in the first person, as a series of thought vignettes, to be a little disconcerting. But, it was worth persevering with.
The main character is Milly - married to Jim, not especially happily. With one adopted child, but no likelihood of one of their own, the year begins with Milly having what she thinks is a special affair with the local butcher, whilst being the subject of admiration for the local sweetshop owner. As well as being very entertaining in its own right, this also reminds the reader of the many changes that took place over that period. A great book, difficult to describe, but well worth reading.
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