Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
13
3.3 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 2 September 2007
I can't believe some of the tripe that has been written about this book by other reviewers. When I was 14 I was introduced to this book by a school friend in another class. His class were reading Joby and he raved about. I read a couple of chapters and was so engaged and moved by it that I crept into the English teacher's cupboard and stole a copy. I've loved this book and all Stan Barstow's other work ever since. His novels and short stories might seem part of a disappearing post-war working class world but Joby resonated with me growing up in the 80s. But then again my father was a lorry driver... not an English lecturer, so what would I know.
22 Comments| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 August 2013
Stan Barstow, along with John Braine and Alan Sillitoe, was one of the leading figures in the provincial social-realist movement of the fifties and sixties, and was for a time regarded as a major literary figure. Today, however, he seems less fashionable, probably because the British literary establishment over the last couple of decades has become more metropolitan, more self-consciously intellectual, more concerned with Big Questions than with the everyday lives of Yorkshire draughtsmen or Midlands factory workers. Social realism and provincialism are often seen as old-fashioned.

Despite transient literary fashions, however, Barstow still retains his admirers, of whom I have been one ever since reading "A Kind of Loving" as a teenager. (During my youth in the seventies, this was one of the two books every teenager seemed to have read, the other being Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye"). The social realist movement, in its heyday, brought a much-needed change to the English literary scene, giving a voice to the working class. The virtues that made Barstow fashionable then- his skill as a storyteller, the strong sense of place in his works, the ability to create well-defined characters- are as relevant today as they were then.

I have to admit, however, that "Joby" is not my favourite among his works. It is set in the summer of 1939, the last weeks of peace before the outbreak of the Second World War. The title character is an eleven-year-old boy from a working-class family in an industrial town in Yorkshire. (There may be an element of autobiography here; Barstow himself would have been eleven years old in 1939). The book is a short one of only about 130 pages, a novella rather than a novel, but the plot is surprisingly complex. Indeed, my main complaint is that there are perhaps too many themes for a book of this length.

Barstow's works are widely studied in schools (perhaps modern teenagers are as well-up on "A Kind of Loving" as my generation were), and "Joby" seems to have been written partly with the Eng. Lit. teacher, wondering what he can give his class to read this term, in mind. Barstow introduces a number of themes common in literature for older children and teenagers- illness in the family (as the book opens Joby's mother is going into hospital for an operation), bereavement (Joby's friend's uncle commits suicide, apparently in despair over the rise of Nazism and the imminent prospect of war), juvenile delinquency (Joby gets into bad company and he and another boy go shoplifting) and infidelity and family breakdown (while Joby's mother is in hospital, his father is carrying on an affair with his wife's niece).

The problem is that there is insufficient space to develop all of these themes, or even any of them, in depth. Each seems to be raised in turn and then dropped as a new idea is raised in its place. Joby's mother makes a full recovery from her operation and returns home; his shoplifting spree earns him a stern rebuke from a shopkeeper but does not land him in serious trouble; the friend whose uncle commits suicide seems to fade out of the story thereafter. The book ends with the issues between Joby's parents unresolved; we do not know if his father's affair will mean the end of their marriage.

Nevertheless, the book does have some good qualities. Joby himself is a well-realised character- a likeable lad, part victim of circumstances, part mischievous Just William- and the historical detail is good, conjuring up a strong sense of the past as well as sense of place- an age when children were free to wander more or less at will, so long as they were home by tea-time, when you could get into the Saturday morning cinema for tuppence (less than a penny in decimal currency), when fish and chips, not chicken tikka, was the English staple diet. As a novella, the story seems less than convincing, but I felt that it could have served as the basis of a very good novel of childhood.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 April 2006
I read this book at school many years ago and decided to read it again recently - I am so glad I did. Stan Barstow transports you to another time and gives us a real insight to the mind of a young boy who is growing up during that period. Whilst not an action thriller, its meaning is in the human relationships and the way in which Joby perceives things, the way he changes and grows up as various events take place in his life. The book is well written and special attention given to language used at the time and in the area in which the book is set. It is disappointing to see some of the reviews left. This is a great book about real people and real emotions and I recommend it to all.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 May 1999
I think this book was a good book and I enjoyed reading it.I chose this book to do my G.C.S.E coureswork on and had to review it which i enjoyed. I liked they way it stated that Joby was having a hard time as his mum was in hospital and the way Joby found it hard to speak to his best friend Snap as his uncle had killed himself. So joby pushed snap away. I think this book is worth reading and i think most people will enjoy it.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 25 May 2012
Like others I am at a lost to understand how some reviewers have dismissed this excellent book. I first read it at school and still dip into it from time to time and I'm now nearly fifty!. It's fairly short but has a great depth to it and is very readable. I'm actually quite jealous of those who are yet to read it. If you enjoy books from a childhood perspective then you'll love Joby. Enjoy!
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I heard about Stan Barstow's death on 1st August 2011 and remembered that I had an unread copy of this book and decided to give it a go.

I can understand the comments of the critical reviewers but don't agree with them. People often make an assumption that books ABOUT children are written FOR children. I don't think this is a children's book at all; its themes are all too adult.

We have the ominous atmosphere in which people are expecting War. There is plenty of talk about Hitler and his plans and schoolchildren have already been issued with gas masks. The outside world is something Joby is aware of, with Smap's (Joby's friend and confidante) uncle having returned from the Spanish Civil War and a Jewish refugee family having settled locally.

We are also aware of a gradual sexual awakening and a major loss of innocence. This is especially brought home with the incestuous relationship between Joby's father and his cousin.

There is also a question of social aspirations. Although Joby's family is working class, it is a 'respectable' working class that still looks down on the people who live in the Foundry Yard. Joby's mother disapproves of his friends and there seems to be a love of propriety - especially with his aunt.

Younger readers are unlikely to realise the gulf between getting into grammar school and going to the local elementary school in terms of your life expectations. Joby has passed his entrance exam and won a scholarship to grammar school, where he is likely to have an education that will lead him to an academic or professional career. Boys like Snap, who are probably just as bright as Joby, who fail to win a place at grammar school would expect to follow their fathers into the coal mines factories.

I enjoyed this book very much. Stan Barstow wrote in a very engaging style and could convey character and atmosphere in nice deft strokes. When I was a school, I used to read a lot of Alan Sillitoe and afterwoods, David Storey and John Braine. Stan Barstow is part of that movement (you could call it 'kitchen sink literature') which was once very popular, especially among school teachers in the 1970s. I don't know whether it is now.

Recommended as a good read but also a nice piece of social history.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 August 2013
This book is for all ages. A superb insight into a childhood world with great writing from Stan Barstow. Given it was later adapted for television, this should tell you something about the power of the story - which I'm not about to give away here as it would spoil the joy of this little gem.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 March 2010
I read this at school and loved it. It was so good, i remember the story now. Our English teacher was also our drama teacher and had the accents and nuances down to a tee which made it even more enjoyable
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 May 2016
Lost my original - glad to have replaced it. Love the chapter in the cinema!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 April 2015
Forced to read this at school, and while the process of disecting a book damages the appreciation, all the other books I have come to like or at least understand in later life.
Thiss utter dross in an insult to schools, no plot, no characters, no point. Utter drivel, one of the worst books ever written. A story about nobodys doing nothing. No-one should ever read this, it should not even have been written.
Had we been studying it for "how to make every mistake in writing literature" it would have been a brilliant case study, but otherwise, this is dull, pointless, tedious, with no structure, no plot and no conclusion.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse