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The Good Companions (Penguin modern classics) Paperback – 1 Sep 1969

4.7 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New impression edition (Sept. 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014001683X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140016833
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.5 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 258,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"As cheerfully escapist for today's listeners as it was for readers when it first came out in 1929." (The Times)

"Priestley was a grand writer...we should still listen to him, before time runs out...I am extremely pleased an effort is being made to re-kindle interest in this great writer." (Beryl Bainbridge) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A story of adventure, optimism and opportunities, enhanced by an interview with Priestley's son

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an exquisite adorable tale of a theatre troupe travelling England in the first half of the twentieth century. Don't get me wrong, it isn't a soppy sentimental book, what I mean by my adjectives is merely that each character is so beautifully carved that they leap off the page and into your heart the instant you read of them. Again that sounds far more hideous than it is, in reality this is a nice book, one in which you truly wish each and every character well, and hold your breath in case anything nasty should befall them, but don't worry as in the best theatre traditions it'll all be alright on the night. Although very long I'm sure by the last page you will be wishing it was twice the length. In my opinion this book was Priestley's finest hour.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The other reviewers have explained the appeal of this book very well. It is now a period piece. There can only be very few readers alive now who can remember the concert parties and pierrot troupes that slogged their way round the variety halls and end of the pier theatres of Britain in the 1920s and 1930s. I recall my late father telling me that he remembered concert parties of precisely the kind described by J B Priesltey coming to perform on Shanklin and Sandown Piers in the 1930s. He added that they were all uniformly absolutely hopeless and awful but let's forget about that.

This book is clearly set after the beginning of broadcasting and during a period of economic depression so I guess Mr J B Priestley intended readers who read the book when it came out (1929) to regard it as a contemporary story. It was a huge success at the time and when I first read it many years ago I became delightfully immersed in the lives of the three main characters and their nomadic temporary hosts (The Dinkey Doos/Good Companions). We meet well drawn good hearted characters who are fully prersented with all their many qualities and foibles affectionately painted by the author for the pleasure of his readers. As they traverse the England of the Great Depression these latterday secular pilgrims witness the gamut of English society as Priestley knew it. There is no venom in Priestley's social observations on this occasion (c.f. his later work)- although cinema owners get a mild moral drubbing. Here we are focusing on the whimsical and the comical and the absurd.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Good Companions has an excellent beginning. Three quite different characters all set out on a journey that culminates in their meeting up in Chapter 4. There is Jess Oakroyd from Bruddersfield (a northern industrial town) who decides to break free from his loveless marriage and heads south. Elizabeth Trant is meek spinster who is suddenly made free by the death of her father. She sets out by car to see parts of England she has never before visited. Young Inigo Jolliphant tosses aside his teaching job at an appalling minor public school and has no clear idea of where to go or what to do.

Via a series of adventures they meet up with a touring theatrical group who have fallen on hard times. Miss Trant decides to finance the group and takes over as manager. It is a sort of fairy tale according to the author but none the worse for that. It tells of the ups and downs of Concert Party life. The grimness of some of their digs, the dullness of the towns and the pathetic audiences are all brilliantly portrayed.

Priestley casts a Dickensian spell over the book with great sweeping descriptions of English towns and landscapes. The central characters are all well drawn and spring to life from the pages.

One criticism I would make is that The Good Companions is a bit too long. A modern editor would have given it a bit of a prune. But it is a charming, entertaining, old fashioned book.

The novels of Priestley seem to have gone out of fashion - a revival is long overdue!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wasn't sure what to expect when I started this as I'd never read any Priestly before. But it's absolutely delightful and a wonderful portrait of travelling concert parties that no longer exist. Excellent on a sense of place too. A very good read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was recommended to read this book by a mature friend of mine. Really enjoyed the story, specially since I am a musician myself, and although the story was set in a different era to mine, it resonated with me all the same. The only downside is that the "N" word was used about three times. It was acceptable then but not now. Maybe this should be edited out? I'm not sure - maybe it should be left as the author wrote it, but it made my hackles rise!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Needed a copy of " The Good Companions " for my book group. Got an old ( 1934 ) copy which I felt initially was uninspiring, but the story was such an interesting and entertaining read that the age of the copy became irrelevant. I was very pleased with the speed of delivery too....necessary as the book is long ( nearly 650 pages ) and the time available to read it short !! I would recommend both the Amazon service and the book to anyone.
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