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Caught (London Writing) Paperback – April 5, 2001

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Product Details

  • Series: London Writing
  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: The Harvill Press (April 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860468314
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860468315
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,002,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Henry Green is the pen-name for Henry Vincent Yorke, the son of a prosperous Midlands industrialist. He was born near Tewkesbury in 1905 and was educated at Eton and Oxford, where he wrote his first novel, Blindness, published in 1926. He entered the family business on the factory-floor, and went on to run the firm while writing eight other novels (all to be reissued as Harvill paperbacks). For Angus Wilson he was "one of the few really considerable English novelists of our time", while W.H. Auden considered him to be "the finest living English novelist". Henry Green died in 1973.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. Berner on August 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Henry Green was a remarkable man. For most of his life, he was an industrialist, running a company he inherited from his father. During World War II, as a middle aged man, he performed heroically as a fireman during the Blitz. And in the space of less than twenty years in his busy life, he wrote eight novels which rank with the best of twentieth century literature written in the English language. Then he stopped writing forever.

Although most of Mr. Green's work is readily available, for some reason Caught - a semi-autobiographical novel about his time with the London Fire Brigade - cannot be found except for used copies for sale at very high prices. Loathe as I am to recommend spending a fortune on a used paperback, in this case it's worth it (although, just a hint, you can find copies if you hunt hard enough for less than the prices here).

Mr. Green's story lacks action scenes - the only reference to a fire appears in the last twenty pages or so and even then it is written as a conversation with the protagonist's sister-in-law - but nonetheless gripping for that. The dynamics of the British class system is the theme of the book. Richard Roe is a upper class Englishman in a fire station full of Cockneys. Pye, the substation chief, (Pye/Roe - Pyro - is the only pun in the book) is in a leadership position for the first time in his life. To make matters more awkward, Pye's unbalanced sister once kidnapped the widowed Roe's son.

The chronology of the book extends from shortly before the war to the waning days of the Blitz, but most of the book takes place during the "Phony War." The story captures everyday people going about their mundane business.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Smith-Peter on August 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book, although I've only given it 4 stars because it's not the best of Green's novels. If you're interested in Green (and you should be if you have the least interest in the modern novel), you should start with Loving, Party Going and Blindness before reading this one. However, this is a fine book dealing with Green's experience as an auxiliary fireman before and during the Blitz. Most of the book takes place while the characters are waiting for something to happen. This is characteristic of most of Green's books, actually. In Party Going the characters are waiting for the fog to lift so they can take a trip. In Caught, however, the waiting is more serious, as it is tied to the early period of World War Two.

The main characters here are Pye, the leader of an auxiliary fire brigade who is out of his depth, and the narrator himself, who is upper class. The class tensions are the main subject here, and we get a sense of how they constrained people's lives and mental processes.

The book was written between 1940 and 1942, before the Blitz was enshrined in history and myth. This is an unheroic but very real take on the experience of men and a few women during this period. It's definitely worth reading, if only for the last two lines, which are quintessentially English.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This title was recommended in a recent issue of The Week that dealt with contemporary civilian accounts of WWII in Britain. It is a work of fiction, but written by a respected author who was a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service in 1940 London and incorporating his experiences during both the Phony War and the Blitz.

Anyone expecting a straightforward account of wartime heroism should look elsewhere. Instead, this is an account, as pilots say, of 99% tedium--in many cases of the most bureaucratic sort--relieved by moments of stark terror. Several characters are followed through ordinary lives disrupted by the war, without reaching any tidy conclusion. This is probably appropriate for a work completed in 1942.

Be prepared for a story told nonlinearly, and that deals with ordinary people responding to both ordinary events and an extraordinary time.
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