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on 18 May 2017
I will say upfront that I saw the film first and then many years later read the novel. This is one of those rare occasion where the film was better than the book.

The film captured a mood which the author just wasn't able to. Tense, pregnant with expectation and uncertainty, sullen, moody, dark.

The book mostly read as a really long dear diary entry where not much happened. (Not much happened in the film, but the tension got you through).

I found isherwoods style of writing difficult. It was dry and verbose. I felt like he was trying to be clever in places where it just didn't work. The discussion of dreams for example

I also found a lot of it pointless. The excessive focus on each student in his class. The scene with charley. Perhaps it was that way to support the ending of the book - I don't know.

Either way it was difficult to read. I won't be reading anymore of isherwood.
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on 17 August 2014
This novel does not compare with Mr Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye to Berlin, both of which are well worth reading. Although there are some bits of good writing, it has almost nothing to recommend it. The main character George has little to admire except perhaps honesty (if it is a description of Isherwood), and he is prone to go off into long passages of fairly meaningless philosophizing. Neither Charlotte or Kenny are well developed characters, unlike the earlier mentioned novels, which abound in them. I am often amazed how some writers can produce both admirable and appalling books. This book is close to being in the latter category. I continued to the end because I thought it must get better, but it was not to be.
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on 28 June 2017
So glad my book club recommended this.
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on 30 May 2017
Great read.
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on 10 March 2017
A classic that is worth reading.
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on 2 August 2017
Very good
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on 12 May 2017
Not cheery but very moving.
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on 4 August 2015
Classic Christopher Isherwood.
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A Single Man gives as much pleasure as you can get from a novel, I think, as the central figure is engaging - but not too 'nice' to be convincing - and the writing is unfailingly communicative as can only suggest quite a lot of common ground between George and Isherwood himself, even if we know Isherwood didn't lose his lover. The happy gay relationship - again not over-idealised - is here a thing of the past after a fatal accident, and the question the book poses is, how does one find meaning in life in middle-age in these circumstances? The book takes the form of different episodes in his day which have a much more mixed flavour than the Tom Ford film - and there are more of them. He visits a woman dying in hospital, for instance, and goes to a gay-friendly gym. He is also a good ten years older than Colin Firth who played him in the film - Firth was excellent, but the character is again brought closer to an ideal, as is his friend Charlotte. You might say the film is a kind of fantasy where the book is rooted very much in real life, even if the events follow a similar outline, with the marvellous swim in the night sea, drunk, with his student Kenny, followed by a rather less glossed continuation at his house. Another major difference is that there is no mention of suicide in the book - a facet of the film that weakened it somewhat, perhaps tapping into the mood of The Hours ... Where the novel really comes into its own is in the sense of being buoyed up by Isherwood's amazing narrative voice. The opening and close of the book are among the best I have ever read - the latter has a perfectly pitched ambiguity that I couldn't give away, but it taps into the same feeling as the opening and brings full circle a narrative thread that carries infinite humanity on the long fragile line that is any work of prose, even one as great as this, and as succinct at just over 150 pages.
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on 3 August 2015
could,nt get into it
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