Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
Initially interesting arguments, but feels very repetitive and is fundamentally not really a novel.
on 31 August 2016
This was on my 'should probably have read' list for a long time, and I started it months ago and despite months of effort I really have not been able to get into it, and at 72% in I have finally thrown in the towel.
It is clearly excellent as a record of the minutiae of the lives of the ragged trousered philanthropists (and the title is a brilliantly succinct expression of the entire argument of the book), and the argument for socialism vs capitalism is made carefully, unarguably and repeatedly. I did especially enjoy Owen's lectures on the causes of poverty, which are powerfully simple. Initially I was impressed by the detail with which Tressell describes the painting and decorating jobs (always nice to learn something new about obscure things), but as most aspects of this book, that quickly became repetitive too.
My issue is that, to all intents and purposes, this is not a novel. There is no progression, there is no story, there is no character development (as far as I can tell). Reading it felt like reading the first chapter of The God Delusion; I already agree with you! I don't need convincing!
I hope I haven't missed anything in the last quarter of this book that would have drastically changed my mind, but I physically couldn't bring myself to finish it. So I am left in a quandry, with a book that I really want to discuss with someone, but that I haven't enjoyed sufficiently to recommend that anyone reads it...