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Craven House Paperback – 10 Jul 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Black Spring (10 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0948238402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0948238406
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.8 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 439,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

Patrick Hamilton was one of the most gifted and admired writers of his generation. His plays include Rope (1929), on which the Hitchcock thriller was based, and Gas Light (1939). Among his novels are The Midnight Bell, The Siege of Pleasure, The Plains of Cement, Twenty-thousand Streets Under the Sky, Hangover Square, The Slaves of Solitude and The West Pier. He died in 1962. The Sunday Telegraph said: 'His finest work can easily stand comparison with the best of this more celebrated contempories George Orwell and Graham Greene.'

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I loved this novel which shows boarding house life 1910-1920s and a period of generational transition with the world of Edwardian gentlefolk giving way to the bright young things of the 1920s. It stands out amongst Hamilton's work for its optimism and charm. Although there are glimpses of a darker world behind the suburban streets in which the boarding house, Craven House, is situated, Hamilton here steers away from a bleak and despairing portrayal of London that some of his later works show. The characters who live in his boarding house are vibrantly drawn and, although the romantic storyline gains some prominence as the novel progresses, it is quite clear at the end that it is the boarding house itself and a vanishing way of life that has been the true protagonist.
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Format: Paperback
Craven House by Patrick Hamilton is a truly engaging read. Hamilton's style and descriptions might remind readers of some of the masterpieces of Victorian fiction, those books which you can become so immersed in that you feel as though you are a part of their worlds. This novel is an intricate tapestry of intermingled lives, all centring on the ever-changing, yet paradoxically ever-constant boarding house in the work's name. The boarding house, in a sense, is the main character, as it observes the many changes in the lives of those who stay in it. Craven House sees youth, death, burgeoning friendships, developing love, new arrivals, the departure of old friends, friendly squabbles, and family quarrels. When a reader picks up Craven House, he or she is thrust into times of the past when bobbed hair is one of those "modern airs". The reader experiences the anguish of Elsie's unrequited love, the fervor of Master Wildman when pursuing prospects of love and playwriting, and the audacity of Audrey speaking back to her employer. Once involved in this depiction, which gradually builds, crescendo-like, to a tense climax, readers may not want to leave. At the very least, you'll want to read it again.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a joy. Yes, Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court (Penguin Modern Classics) and The Slaves of Solitude are Patrick Hamilton's masterpieces however this book is every bit as enjoyable. Playful, jaunty, and very sentimental, it is interesting to read Hamilton in a more positive mood - before the cynicism and darkness really took hold.

Craven House was the first major novel by Patrick Hamilton and was published in 1926, and captures that moment when, following World War 1, the certainties of the Edwardian way of life eroded until English society was changed for ever. Hamilton's own family experienced their own slow, inexorable slide down the social scale throughout Patrick Hamilton's childhood.

The Craven House of the title is a boarding house in west London, similar to the one Hamilton's own family lived in at Chiswick. The setting allows Hamilton to explore the shifting, uncertain world of the English boarding house. The characters that populate this house are lovingly chronicled with horrified fascination. On the surface each is well mannered and genteel. Scratch the surface and there is much more going on. As with other books by this wonderful writer, his acute powers of observation enrich all the characters with little phrases and idiosyncrasies that are clearly drawn from real life and so authentically evoke a sense of time and place, and are all described in Hamilton's gloriously atmospheric prose.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Patrick Hamilton's later books like Hangover Square and 20 Thousand Streets Under The Sky are brilliant, but this is a pretty poor early effort.
It displays all the flaws of a writer's early work. Hamilton is obviously experimenting with form, but this has unfortunate consequences. Yes, he never got rid of his irritating habit of capping up certain words Because They're Important, but here the mix of tenses, of viewpoints, of styles, is infuriating. The first half of the book especially is like chewing through particularly mean toffee. The dialogue also lacks the freshness and economy of his later work, with little more than repetition of some words to make a point.
Other things irk, like the pointless use of a fictional district of London when a real one would have been better. Much of the action just isn't that interesting, and there are so many characters we find it difficult to identify with many of them. Most successful is an early section where Mr Spicer goes on a boozy trip into London, and the closing stages in which we are willing Master Wildman to do the right thing in the field of love.
But this isn't a great book, and it's especially disappointing after reading the author's later classics.
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Format: Paperback
Craven House is one of the more interesting books I've read in the past year or so. Don't let the seemingly bland context of the story fool you and deprive you of this absurdly funny and engaging adventure into the lives of the early-1900s British elite. When I first picked up the book I was confused at how bland it seemed it was going to be, but Hamilton takes the content with a subtlety of humour that I've never seen before. You can tell that he's mocking the prim, proper, and agonizingly pretentious nature of this class of people. Etiquette and awkward conversation become comic social commentary as the characters make complete and utter fools of themselves as they desperately try to live up to their ideas of society's expectations. Underlying this all is a unbelievably charming love story that you desperately want to come into fruition and suffer with the two involved when problems arise.
Hamilton's writing style is something to be admired in of itself. It is elegant and ornate, but twisted into this is a second form, irregularly structured with unique vocabulary and syntax that contrasts with the more classical structure to add to the air of awkward comedy that pervades the entirety of the book. His characters pop out as strikingly real as he develops for each a distinct way of speaking and thinking. Like the book itself, the characters are one way on the outside; uniform, mild-mannered, and perfect gentlemen/women, but on the inside they each have a uniqueness that comes out to play from time to time. Toward the end of the novel, these sorts of Jungian Shadows start breaking through the walls of their cages of society imposed suppression, and the reader gets to have a long series of chuckles at the expense of their collective psychological degeneration.
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