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The Slaves of Solitude (1947)

par Patrick Hamilton

Autres auteurs: Voir la section autres auteur(e)s.

MembresCritiquesPopularitéÉvaluation moyenneMentions
6021530,146 (4.12)49
'I don't know how I became so filled with hate. I find it shocking that I did. Somebody said to me that war affects us in all kinds of ways, and that drinking is only one of them. Perhaps hating people is another. Perhaps sex is too.' 1943, Henley-on-Thames. Miss Roach is forced by the war to flee London for the Rosamund Tea Rooms boarding house, a place as grey and lonely as its residents. From the safety of these new quarters, her war effort now consists of a thousand petty humiliations, of which the most burdensome is sharing her daily life with the unbearable Mr Thwaites. But a breath of fresh air arrives in the form of a handsome American lieutenant and things start to look distinctly brighter. Until a new boarder moves into the room next to Miss Roach's - outwardly friendly, she soon starts upsetting the precarious balance in the house. Nicholas Wright's play The Slaves of Solitude weaves a fascinating blend of dark hilarity and melancholy from Patrick Hamilton's much-loved story about an improbable heroine in wartime Britain. The play premiered at Hampstead Theatre, London, in October 2017.… (plus d'informations)
Récemment ajouté parTeachLibBert, Gadi_Cohen, sblock, bibliothèque privée, civitas, nreehcs, Ellimon, NickTaipei, kathryndoiron
Bibliothèques historiquesEdward St. John Gorey , Graham Greene
  1. 10
    Le temps de l'amour et de la dèche par Julian Maclaren-Ross (KayCliff)
  2. 00
    La maison sans issues par James Hanley (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Both about clusters of people in the Blitz & both good--Slaves more conventional, relying upon character and plot, and No Directions a series of vignettes of people caught in their house full of flats during an overnight bombing.
  3. 00
    La ruelle de l'ange. par J. B. Priestley (chrisharpe)
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» Voir aussi les 49 mentions

Affichage de 1-5 de 15 (suivant | tout afficher)
I thank the literary review magazine Slightly Foxed for the lead on this perfectly wonderful novel. I sat down with it on a Sunday afternoon after lunch and did not close it until it was done (past my bedtime). I had never heard of the author Patrick Hamilton, a British writer of that amazing generation of the first half of the 20th century, whose biography is deeply soaked in alcohol and pain.

In his only novel set in London during the second world war, Hamilton introduces us to a set of rootless, mostly middle-aged people who have landed in a dreary boarding house in a distant London suburb. Miss Enid Roach (always called Miss Roach - she dislikes her first name) is one of them, a neat, intelligent, thoughtful "spinster" closing in on forty who has been bombed out of her London flat. The boarders gather at their assigned places in the blacked-out dining room, presided over by the insufferable, the preposterous, the loud-mouthed, affected, bombastic, and completely hilarious Mr. Thwaites, who bullies Miss Roach unmercifully. Others come to her rescue - sometimes. The profiles of these boarders are knife-sharp and completely recognizable - both scathing and affectionate. On nearly every page, I was smiling or chuckling or sighing in sympathy or dismay. They are poignant, brave, and ridiculous, and often wryly observed by the out-of-work and out-of-fashion old actor, Mr. Prest, who reads his paper in the corner by himself.

A couple of American officers arrive on the scene - they sleep elsewhere, but take their meals in our boarding house. One of them, a soppy, sodden, callow young man latches onto our Miss Roach, who wonders about his intentions and can't quite make up her mind about him as they drink multiple large whiskeys and pink gin (Gawd, that sounds awful! What on EARTH is pink gin, anyway?). Then, a young woman of German heritage needs a place to stay, and also joins the population. She ceases to be the rather quiet, perhaps put-upon girl Miss Roach has befriended, and her uproarious, brash presence, laced with out-of-date schoolgirl slang ("Oh, how sporty!") throws a wrench (sorry, a spanner) into the delicate balance of the group, and rapidly turns the heads of both Miss Roach's pathetic suitor and the irrepressible Mr. Thwaites (40 years her senior).

Miss Roach makes up her mind. She takes a stand. She inherits some money. And maybe - just maybe - she will get another shot at a life that suits her. The sad, lonely Mr. Prest gets a job and lifts hearts. The officer proves as lonely as any of them.

That's it. A funny, heartbreaking, vivid, colorful, wonderful portrait of people thrown together by chance and some adversity, their travails, pleasures, and shifting dynamics, all trying to get by the only way they know how. If you don't like it, I don't want to hear about it. I now have a copy of Hamilton's Hangover Square on my table, but after all the alcohol consumed in the neighborhood of the Rosamund Tea Rooms, I may need to stay on the wagon for a bit. ( )
1 voter JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
Funny, claustrophobic, painful at times...strange to think about the boarding house society, something that I suppose doesn't really exist anymore. Is there a modern equivalent? And those characters--Thwaites with his horrendous Troth talk (I'll have to watch myself in the coming days), the Lieutenant and his whisky, and the horrendously manipulative Vicky. I guess they are a bit one-sided, but I didn't mind. ( )
  giovannaz63 | Jan 18, 2021 |
I've had this book on my shelf for eons but it wasn't until earlier this year when I read Laura Talbot's The Gentlewoman, that I felt the urge to pick it up. In the Introduction (which I always read AFTER I read the book: lesson learned) I learned that Talbot and Hamilton were married for a few tumultuous years but he was a raging alcoholic and it didn't work out even though she allowed him to live with her when they were both nearing the ends of their lives. At any rate, I enjoyed this tale of a spinster living in the London countryside after escaping the Blitz in the early years of WWII.

Miss Roach now resides in a boarding house, the Rosamund Tea Rooms in its former life, with other solitary souls. As the story opens, it is 1943 and Hamilton concentrates his story on the interactions among the boarding house residents but hones in on Miss Roach and the totally obnoxious Mr. Thwaites. His know it all attitude is insufferable and he decides Miss Roach is an easy target. Discussion of the war prevails and the town is filled with military men and soon Miss Roach takes up with an American lieutenant. Things seem to go along along smoothly although the lieutenant is a very heavy drinker, much like the author, until Miss Roach's German friend, Vicki Kugelmann, takes up residence and things go all amok.

The theme seems to be the the inconsequence of these solitary souls but it is also an indictment of life in Britain during the war: the shortages (of just about everything) and its impact on the populace. So well written and with brilliant humorous touches and an unlikely heroine, I highly recommend this book. ( )
1 voter brenzi | Oct 24, 2019 |
One could trouble oneself with establishing Hamilton's protagonist Enid Roach in a tradition stretching from Jane Eyre to Bridget Jones, but, then, that isn't really the argument. The inhabitants of the boarding-house were all developed in that sitting room profile manner. Their coexistence stems from the Blitz, the privation, the War. That is the spectral presence which haunts this novel. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
The Slaves of Solitude is a bitterly funny book about a woman, one Miss Roach, who lives in a dreary-sounding boarding house outside London during World War 2. Miss Roach's experiences living in close quarters go from bad to worse when a so-called friend moves in, right next door to poor Miss Roach. Hamilton is unsparing in his depictions of his characters, creating people, situations, and a female perspective that felt absurd and strangely believable.

(There's more about The Slaves of Solitude on my blog here.) ( )
  LizoksBooks | Dec 15, 2018 |
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» Ajouter d'autres auteur(e)s (2 possibles)

Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Patrick Hamiltonauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionscalculé
Cockburn, ClaudIntroductionauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Holroyd, MichaelIntroductionauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Lessing, DorisIntroductionauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Lodge, DavidIntroductionauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Priestly, J. B.Introductionauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé

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'I don't know how I became so filled with hate. I find it shocking that I did. Somebody said to me that war affects us in all kinds of ways, and that drinking is only one of them. Perhaps hating people is another. Perhaps sex is too.' 1943, Henley-on-Thames. Miss Roach is forced by the war to flee London for the Rosamund Tea Rooms boarding house, a place as grey and lonely as its residents. From the safety of these new quarters, her war effort now consists of a thousand petty humiliations, of which the most burdensome is sharing her daily life with the unbearable Mr Thwaites. But a breath of fresh air arrives in the form of a handsome American lieutenant and things start to look distinctly brighter. Until a new boarder moves into the room next to Miss Roach's - outwardly friendly, she soon starts upsetting the precarious balance in the house. Nicholas Wright's play The Slaves of Solitude weaves a fascinating blend of dark hilarity and melancholy from Patrick Hamilton's much-loved story about an improbable heroine in wartime Britain. The play premiered at Hampstead Theatre, London, in October 2017.

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823.912 — Literature English English fiction Modern Period 20th Century 1901-1945

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