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The Slaves of Solitude (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – February 20, 2007
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“Slaves of Solitude seems to me a masterpiece and certainly one of the best novels to come out of the Second World War.” —David Lodge, for The Times Literary Supplement
"Patrick Hamilton is the great forgotten man of 1930s and 1940s fiction." --Time Out London
"One of Hamilton's finest novels...The Slaves of Solitude is a pitch-perfect comedy, in which all the passions and tensions of war are enacted in a seedy boarding house in Henley-on-Thames." —The Independent
"I enjoyed every page of this novel, and have never had the pleasure of seeing the panoply of loneliness and depression employed to such brilliant comic effect." —Katherine Powers, The Boston Globe
“The author sketches the everyday with a deft, often comedic touch, yet never loses sight of the ultimate pathos of the human condition.” —Newsday
"A welcome opportunity for contemporary readers to discover [Patrick Hamilton]...The author sketches the everyday with a deft, often comedic touch, yet never loses sight of the ultimate pathos of the human condition." —Los Angeles Times
“Gritty, real, tough, and sardonic.... If you were looking to fly from Dickens to Martin Amis with just one overnight stop, then Hamilton is your man.” —Nick Hornby
"My favourites are the novels which capture the gloom, grubbiness and paranoia of Forties London life—for example...Patrick Hamilton’s fabulously poignant The Slaves of Solitude and Hangover Square." —Sarah Waters
“Patrick Hamilton is being revived again. And it looks serious this time… JB Priestley was an early supporter. Hamilton's book The West Pier was generously described by Graham Greene as "the best novel ever written about Brighton". He was John Betjeman's favourite contemporary novelist. Writers from Julie Burchill to Doris Lessing are warm admirers. Biographer Michael Holroyd has written numerous essays and introductions. Nick Hornby recently described him as 'my new best friend'.” —The Independent
About the Author
Patrick Hamilton (1904—1962) was born into a literary family and became active in the theater at a young age. He was a prolific writer, both of fiction and for the stage, and a notorious alcoholic. Among his most famous novels are Hangover Square and Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky (forthcoming from NYRB Classics).
David Lodge is the author of several novels, including Author, Author, Changing Places, Small World, Nice Work, Paradise News, and Therapy. He has also written many works of literary criticism, including The Art of Fiction and Consciousness and the Novel: Connected Essays. He lives in Birmingham, England.
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Top Customer Reviews
What a delightful read! The characters, especially that of the unlikely heroine, Miss Roach are so true to form they fairly bounce off the pages.
Set almost entirely in a staid boarding house in a small village outside of London during the war, this book is as real as you'll get.
You'll be rooting for Miss Roach for all your worth.
She's very British in that she's very polite and long suffering, but wait till she gets her morals questioned by Vicki, the German girl who's lived in Britain for a great part of her life and is indeed a British citizen. But there is a war going on between Germany and Great Britain and Miss Roach isn't going to stand by and listen to any mention of 'understanding' of Nazi Germany with it's 'filthy' goings on!
Miss Roach is the wrong side of thirty and a former school mistress who's had her share of bullying but she has her cut off point.
The boarding house bully, Mr Thwaites is a great character. A nasty piece of works who delights in tormenting Miss Roach and expressing his loud and obnoxious opinion throughout the dining room, where 'you could hear a pin drop'.
However, Miss Roach, in her quiet and subtle way, has the last say and the ending is satisfying and wonderful!
Read this book and be charmed. If you love British literature with a bevy of wonderful characters, you do not want to pass on this one.
Miss Roach, a timid, middle-aged spinster is the protagonist of this story and one can easily pity her while simultaneously admiring her. She is bullied daily by Mr. Thwaite, another resident of the house and has only superficial relationships with the other boarders. Things appear to change when she begins a relationship with an American Lieutenant who regularly takes her out for drinks and necking and who gives her the impression that he longs to marry her and take her back to the States when the war is over. Complications arise when Miss Roach's supposed friend, German immigrant, Vicki Kugelmann moves into the house.
This novel, filled with much drunken revelry, psychological insight and humor is, in my opinion, Hamilton's best.
This was a gentler read than my usual fare but was a wonderful read. There are the descriptions of the time period, the blackouts, the rationing, civilian life in war time. However it's the marvellous descriptions of the inhabitants of the boarding house that really draws you into the story. A wonderful read.