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The Green Hat (Capuchin Classics) Paperback – 25 Feb 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Capuchin Classics (25 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955519659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955519659
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.3 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 351,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'The essence of its period... a riveting story.' --Anthony Lejeune

About the Author

Michael Arlen was born in Bulgaria in 1895 of Armenian parents. He changed his name from Dikran Konyounmdjian in 1922 and became a naturalised British subject. After being educated at Malvern College he wrote two novels which met with little attention. He achieved fame with the publication of The Green Hat in 1924.Driving around London in an enormous yellow Rolls Royce, slim, well-dressed and impeccably mannered, he was very like the characters in his novels. He lived in Cannes until the outbreak of the Second World War, and then moved to New York where he died in 1956.


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Quite simply, this is my favourite book of all time.
Michael Arlen brings to life London in the 1920's with it's rich mix of high and low life. Although there is a love story (of sorts) running through the book, you get the impression you are peering in through a window to someones whole life, and not just one small element. There's tragedy and great drama, but never do you feel that the author is trying to manipulate you or make you turn that page. You simply do because it's such an engrossing book. And the twist at the end will really pull at your emotions.
Buy it, read it, then tell someone else about it.
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Format: Paperback
Published in 1924 and a massive best-seller, this is ostensibly the story of a wild young widow with a shady past and a taste for fast cars and adultery, set mostly in Mayfair just as the Twenties began to roar. As well, Arlen muses on the English upper classes, still dazed by the First World War, and regales the reader with philosophical asides and reflections on the nature of women, drunkenness, doctors who specialize in diseases of the rich, the management of nightclubs, and much more: finally delivering a shattering ending to this quest for the true nature of his heroine.

And if anyone out there knows who currently holds the rights to this book, let me know (send a message to the enquiries address at [...] as I know someone who wants to reprint it in a handsome new edition.
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Format: Paperback
"It has occurred to the writer to call this unimportant history The Green Hat because a green hat was the first thing about her that he saw as also it was, in a way, the last thing about her that he saw".

This is the opening sentence of this quite extraordinary book. Why extraordinary? Because of the style, the lushness of the writing, one critic of the time called it "opium dream style", and it takes some getting used to I can tell you. Michael Arlen was a well known writer of novels but he had an astounding success in 1924 with the publication of The Green Hat. It was the novel of the year and it seems to fit in with the mad, reckless existence of society at this time.

The narrator first meets with Iris Storm when she comes to his house to visit her brother in the flat above. Gerald is a drunkard who spends most of his time in a stupor and who never has visitors, let alone a visitor like this: " She was very white and her painted mouth was purple in the dim light and her eyes, which seemed set apart, were cool, impersonal, sensible and they were blazing blue......like two spoonfuls of the Mediterranean in the early morning of a brilliant day, The sirens had eyes like that." See what I mean about the lushness of the style. To a modern reader it can seem melodramatic and so it is, but allow yourself to fall into this book, accept the way it is written, with heightened senses and dramatic gestures and it will then click into place.

Iris Storm has a reputation as a shameless woman, who lives up to her notoriety as she lives in a whirl of parties, night clubs and restaurants. Her first husband, a clean cut, long limbed, Englishman 'Boy' Fenwick, commits suicide on their wedding night by throwing himself out of the bedroom window.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The jury in my head is still out on "The Green Hat". The 3-star rating - "it's OK" - doesn't really reflect my true feelings as I loved this book in places. To borrow and adapt a turn of phrase from the author, it was awful and awesome.

I nearly gave up on the book as I'd barely started it. The first chapter or so is incredibly heavy-going and it takes an effort to orientate yourself to the author's idiosyncratic style. During the first fifty pages, I found it difficult to believe that this book had been a best-seller in the 1920s. But, having persisted, somewhere in Chapter 2, I was rewarded. I began to click with the way the author writes, I was enchanted by the richness and strangeness of the prose and the dialogue and became caught up in the story of Iris Storm, a woman with a dark past who prowls the streets of Mayfair in a yellow Hispano Suiza.

It's all about a vanished world that centres on the Ritz, on Deauville and Paris and Mayfair, and the people that inhabit this world with their questions of honour, reputation and loyalty - and an underlying subtext about how women should behave and present themselves. There is fascinating commentary on the "modern" world with one character remarking of the previous generation that "they couldn't grub about in so many cesspools at one time, rushing in a night between London and any vile paradise of the vulgarities like Deauville or the present Riviera."

I did find the climax, when the "shameless and shameful" Iris goes in like St George to confront her lover's father and his "boys' club" rather over the top, in a melodramatic way.

But I suspect that this book will remain in my mind - and I may even go back to that heavy first chapter one of these days to try and fathom it out.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Green Hat is Michael Arlen's best known book. The hardback copy I received, still with its colourful dust jacket and in great condition for its age, was published in 1934, ten years after the first edition. The story is riveting but it is the names of the characters that are particularly memorable: Lady Pynte, Colonel Victor Duck, Trehawke Tush and Venice Pollen! It's a rip-roaring, fast read with a fairly gruesome ending. What's not to like?
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