Hangover Square Abridged Compact Discs Audio CD – Audiobook, Sep 20 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Hamilton (1904–1962) captures the edgy, obsessive and eventually murderous mindset of a romantically frustrated British man in this WWII-era novel published in the U.S. as a separate volume for the first time. As the story opens, 34-year-old George Harvey Bone—a heavyset, good-hearted failure—is obsessed with his ongoing effort to either woo or, frighteningly, kill the lovely Netta Longdon, a callous, smalltime London actress whose charms seem limited to her physical beauty. Longdon shows little interest in Bone's advances, but she always seems ready to take advantage of Bone's generosity and to stab him in the back by, say, sleeping with one of his lowlife cohorts. As the book progresses and Bone gets more and more intense, it becomes clear that the virtual fugue state that he periodically enters is undiagnosed schizophrenia—the twist is that everyone else's behavior is so beastly that Bone's plottings feel pretty much deserved. Hamilton is less successful introducing political material on Hitler's rise to power as the forces of war begin to overwhelm Britain, but the subtle power of the free indirect prose he uses to render Bone's deteriorating mind makes this an impressive character study and an oblique (and bleak) look at beleaguered prewar London. (Jan.)
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* Rhind-Tutt's presentation of Bone's cinematic first-person narrative cleverly builds the tension of the mental conflicts which make up Bone's distorted vision of what is going on around him. It's a tense and gripping study of a drink-fuelled mental disintegration. Rachel Redford, The ObserverSee all Product Description
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At its core is the book's main character, George Harvey Bone. George is obsessed with Netta Longdon for reasons that, I must admit, are completely unclear to me as she is one of the coldest and calculating women imaginable. A true femme fetale, really. She keeps punishing George and the poor sap just keeps coming back for more. In the midst of all this George has bouts with schizophrenia and 'moods' that severely hamper him and ultimately cause him to plot his revenge on everyone that he perceives as ever having wronged him.
Lots of novels have been written around drink with young drunks at their core, but nothing I've read has gone quite this deep into the allures of inebriation. However what really elevates Hangover Square is the manner in which the subtle charms and peaceful bliss of sobriety are also unearthed. One character sums it up by wondering if the hangover and the night before occurred in reverse chronology, would we even drink in the first place ? This inner calm of sobriety might be best exemplified by George's golf outing. It is an afternoon that proves to be both an escape from his mates and a confidence builder to be rewarded later by an 'in crowd', that opposed to his clique, actually possess some redeeming qualities. For the time being, he is validated.
I found Hangover Square in an odd way. I read a scathing review of a new novel by the book critic of The Atlantic wherein he blasted the new release that everyone else was raving about. His blanket negativity, in some weird way, fascinated me. So I looked into the guy and saw that he pretty much hated EVERYTHING. The web is a wonderful thing, so I took it on myself to find something- anything, that this critic found acceptable. Eventually I found something that he actually liked and it was Hangover Square, so I thought I'd read it. I am grateful that I did.
The journey is the reward here. 'Literary thriller' is an overused term, but here it is a very accurate description as plot, characterization and a life outlook all combine brilliantly. Patrick Hamilton's writing style is a direct one and a pleasure to read. The book grabbed me from the beginning. It covers all the bases and contains some wonderfully euphoric passages, but know that in the end it is a sad tale with a sad ending.
A great book - read it.
Most of the people surrounding Bone have fun at his expense, including Netta. George does recognize this, but he has no willpower to break out of this situation, so he keeps suffering, and this mental suffering probably contributes to his schizophrenic spells, during which he nurses murderous thoughts.
This book brings to mind both Idiot and The Insulted and Humiliated by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and this is not too huge an exaggeration: Hamilton does create very powerful and gripping characters, narrative and social scenery, so comparison with Dostoevsky at least gives one a proper framework to place both Hangover Square and The Slaves of Solitude.
Lots of details, very clear and powerful language - this book deserves to be much better known than, say, "The Collector" by Fowles, but... when they asked Beethoven why his 8th is much less popular than his 7th, he replied: "But it's so much better, that's why!"
That was all background to this story of artists and other unemployed people in the gritty Earl's Court area of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The story is truly noir and reminds me of some of the early motion pictures directed by Sir Alfred Hitchcock, though this story is not a mystery. Even in the reading of this book, the scenes that I imagined were in black-and-white. As I read this book, I was continuingly reminding myself that it was published in 1941 though the main theme of the plot involved a medical condition which I had not realized was really identified that early. In this case, the main character, George suffers from a condition of "near" schizophrenia. He only has a single personality, but there are times when he shifts into another reality.
I enjoyed the book, though at times, I was not sure that I would. The talent of this author and his way of building his plot and manufacturing his story structure was fascinating to me.
This is a book which had gone out of print some time ago but Europa Editions chose to bring it back into publication in 2006. That run was successful for a second reprinting in 2009. I am certainly glad that they did.
The plot takes the characters from London to Brighton and back as well as between two sets of friends. The drinking companions of George and Netta the object of his fixation who are equally cruel to George, take him for granted and use him comprise one group. This is contrasted with a group that revolves around an old school friend of George's whom he meets by accident and through him has a moment of reprieve and clarity as he is suddenly around people who see his Netta for who she really is and tell him.
Hamilton's writing is crisp and the ominous sense that all of this will end badly is established early in the novel. This is the second book if Hamilton's that I've read and he has quickly become one of my favorite authors.