☆ Read · Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton ¿ Just because I mostly hated reading this doesn t mean I can t give it 4 stars There are two movies I saw recently both recommended , Rosetta, a Belgian movie, and Keane, an American indie Both of them are completely claustrophobic, the camera is jammed up against the main character all the time, we re in their faces or hanging over their shoulders the whole time, there might be ten seconds here or there where Rosetta or Keane aren t in the shot, but that will be because we re looking through their eyes Hangover Square is like that, we re squashed up close and personal with big goofy dozy daft alcoholic George Harvey Bone who is besotted, I mean quite utterly gaga, with sometime actress and fulltime casually vicious alcoholic dropdead gorgeous dimwit Netta Longdon in my mind played by Helena Bonham Carter but maybe that s just me do you think we could get her George hangs around with Netta and her admirers, none of them have got any jobs or money, they eke and sponge, eke and sponge.
The whole plot if that is the word of this thing for 98% of the whole book can be summed up in 2 37 by Frank and Nancy Sinatra I know I stand in line until you think you have the timeto spend an evening with meAnd if we go someplace to dance, I know that there s a chanceyou won t be leaving with meAnd afterwards we drop into a quiet little placeand have a drink or twoAnd then I go and spoil it all, by saying somethin stupidlike I love you I hope you ve never been in a situation like that Well I got quite impatient, this novel was hammering the same nails in page after page, another round of drinks, another round of humiliations heaped upon poor old George On and on.
MAYBE WHAT THIS NOVEL IS ABOUT LOOKSISM If it s not about a very particular social milieu Earl s Court seediness, 1939 the war approaches or mid level alcoholism, or mental illness, this novel is about the grim truths of looksism The only think which Netta has going is her looks, and we are given to understand that she s a total wow, it s not just George that thinks so We have our noses shoved into the ineluctable caste system of looksism, which divides the human race into those who have looks and those who can only look Human beauty, beloved, adored, feared even, lusted after the 9s go out with the 9s, the 7s with the 7s, it s a universal rule, except that the ugly men have discovered that if they make enough money then 4s can go out with 8s or even 9s But do looks make you happy We who are without them fervently hope they don t and then feel mean for thinking such thoughts Maybe that s why the myth of Marilyn is so cherished there was a fabulous looker who was one mixed up shook up girl The sufferings of George Harvey Bone in his complete prostration before Netta s beauty reminded me hatefully of periods in my own life I would be happy to have removed by the device in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Ugh This novel grinds on and on and on, you get hypnotised, towards an inevitable denouement which is pure pathos, so sad and strong and true If you like bleak, and who doesn t, you ll find it here.
Once again Patrick Hamilton showed himself as a connoisseur of unrequited love When meeting her after a parting of any length he never dared to look at her fully, to take her in, all at once He was too afraid of her loveliness of being made to feel miserable by some new weapon from the arsenal of her beauty something she wore, some fresh look, or attitude, or way of doing her hair, some tone in her voice or light in her eye some fresh horror in fact.
He is naively spineless, gullible and lovelorn She is coldly self serving, vulgar and loveless And also Hangover Square has a touch of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde about it.
The protagonist duffers from spells of dead moods during which he perceives reality differently and when he comes to, he can t remember anything It almost knocked him down It made him reel It was as though he had been hit by something And yet he knew what it was It was only his head, cracking back And with the crack everything came flooding, rushing, roaring back noise, colour, light, the fury of the real everyday world It was almost than he could bear It would settle down, he would adjust himself soon, but for the moment it was too much for him He leaned against a wall, giddy and faint.
She is just using him and he gets nothing in exchange But every deception leaves a little teardrop of bitterness And when a cup of tears overflows anything is prone to happen This is a book about endless cycles of drinking binges and hangovers It also is a book about an unhinged man convinced by some very convoluted logic that he needs to murder a woman in that it reminded me of Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato which is a great book and you should read it Hangover Square opens with a thrilling even if medically dubious description of a schizophrenic episode It s just one of the many that will get much worse as the novel progresses To achieve a great dissociative effect Hamilton had to resort to constant repetitions when describing those episodes and while annoying at first, eventually they become a hypnotising drumbeat.
The hero and the book s main sufferer is George Bone , hopelessly obsessed with a failed actress Netta and on a self destructive path The whole book takes places on the eve of World War II and could easily be interpreted as a metaphor of the rise of fascism with Bone possibly representing the United Kingdom, forced to enter the war that s an interpretation my Book Club came up with, granted we were on our own drinking binge in one of the Earl s Court pubs, so we could ve been talking nonsense at that point Nonetheless the atmosphere of impending catastrophe is definitely discernible in the book.
And this is all great and was discussed in many other reviews, so I d like to focus on something else I propose a feminist reading of Hangover Square whenever I do that in my reviews, it always draws in the best kind of men in the comment section who come and call me dear , honey or any other patronising pet name and proceed to tell me I didn t get it Most readers including yours truly tend to sympathise with Bone, because deep down inside, he is a nice guy , while Netta is an evil femme fatale Additionally, it s a motif that repeats itself in many of Hamilton s books and is heavily autobiographical, so obviously it s presented in a way to make us feel sorry for Bone.
And yet, it is clear Bone pretty much stalks the girl At first she is somewhat nice to him, but she quickly makes it clear she is not interested He proceeds to show up at her house, he calls her every day, even though at that point she barely speaks to him or even acknowledges his presence Yet he is unable to take a hint and he is persistent He is not taking no for an answer Netta s only fault is to take money he willingly offers her but she s hardly leading him on She is just a broke alcoholic that maybe takes a little bit of an advantage of the guy who is relentlessly pursuing her She never seeks him out to set him up Yes, she cancelled on him and lied about where she was going, but on the other hand he is a murderous psycho who is fantasising about killing her, so in real life I d much rather run into Netta than Bone Bone is angry because Netta doesn t want him because he is not rich and doesn t have connections, which is supposed to make us believe that Netta is a shallow girl But then why is Bone in love with Netta It s clearly not her personality, which he finds despicable, it s just her looks Bone doesn t love Netta He just wants to possess her, bend her to his will When Netta is desperate to get the attention of a rich theatrical impresario we find it repulsive When Bone is desperate to get Netta s attention, we find it just sad Very clever, Hamilton Netta s thoughts resembled those of a fish And what were Bone s thoughts like, eh The whole point of the narrative is to convince us that if only there was no Netta, Bone could move to Maidenhead and live a wholesome life But just as Eddie Carstairs is not the reason Netta will never live the life of a glamourous actress, Netta is not the reason for the way Bone s life is turning out They are both fucked because they are raging alcoholics who are never sober long enough to make any changes to improve their lives Anyway, bottom line is Netta uses men as much as she is used by them, so let s cut her some slack, eh



Hangover Square was published in 1941, at the peak of Patrick Hamilton s fame, which was by that time considerable In common with almost all of Patrick Hamilton s novels, the story is in part inspired by incidents from Patrick Hamilton s life Like protagonist and narrator George Harvey Bone, Hamilton s life was becoming saturated in alcohol and like Bone he too was obsessed by an unattainable woman, in Hamilton s case she was actress Geraldine Fitzgerald Fitzgerald is the inspiration for Netta and in a sense could be Hamilton s revenge on her given the unflattering portraitShe was completely, indeed sinisterly devoid of all those qualities which her face and body externally proclaimed her to have pensiveness, grace, warmth, agility, beauty Her thoughts resembled those of a fishHowever, where the book really succeeds is in its evocation of London as the second world war looms The book was written under the shadow of the seemingly unstoppable advance of Germany and Nazism Hangover Square searches for a human metaphor to express the sickness that Hamilton perceived during this period As a Marxist, he identified the petty bourgeoisie, from which Netta and Peter had sprung, as the enemy Netta and Peter, along with the stranger who accompanies them to Brighton, are all fascists A masterpiece, and Patrick Hamilton s finest novel although The Slaves of Solitude , Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky , Craven House and Rope A Play are all excellent too.
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The first thing I did here was to give this book 4 stars, but I changed it to 5 just as soon as I realized that George Harvey Bone is a character that will stay inside my head I will think of him when I see sad, lonely people, or alcholics, or men or women being bullied and ridiculed When I see sweetly naive people who really can t cope with the world, but turn to liquor and bad company just to make themselves feel better for a little while, even though it never helps Maybe George gave me a tiny bit of insight into schizophrenia, for lack of a better word people who hear voices in their head that tell them do things their real personality would never think of.
This is my third Patrick Hamilton novel, and the one thing common to them all is his ability to capture in few words the essence of his characters He looked as though he had been to an inferior public school and would be pleased to sell you a second hand car He seemed to carry his loneliness about him on his person, like someone branded Both of those sentences describe George, and tell all you need to know The last seven words of this novel, which I cannot quote, sum up everything that happened in Hangover Square, perfectly and devastatingly.
I wish I could do a better job reviewing this, but it will have to suffice to say thank you to Doug, who introduced me to him Like Doug, I am on a mission to read all of his novels This one is darker than the previous novels I read, Craven House and The Slaves of Solitude, and affects me differently, but like I said, I will never forget George Harvey Bone.
Dear Patrick Hamilton,I m just not that into you Yeah, our first meeting was magnificent, transcendent, life altering even But you know what I was drunk I mean, really really shithammered, and yeah, so were you At our awkward follow up date, I was pleased to note that you really weren t bad looking, but our conversation stalled a few minutes in, and neither one of us tried hard to save it Maybe if I d gotten through those initial long awkward pauses and choked down sake, things would ve been fine, hell, they could ve been great We could ve gone on together and wound up falling in love, having kids, getting married, growing old and cirrhotic and dying together, pickled and bitter and afraid of the void But when I got up to use the bathroom I didn t really have to go and saw the door to the street was right there, I chose the easier path, as I m known to do.
Yeah, it could ve been great, Pat It probably would ve been But patience is never one of my virtues, and this is an especially bad week.
Please don t hold this against me I really did love Slaves of Solitude, and I m sure this is great, too You re a really wonderful writer Really it s not you, it s me.
Patrick Hamilton s novels focus on those on the margins of life the world of seedy bedsits, pubs and near poverty George Harvey Bone spends his time in Earls Court, often meaning to make a new start of things, but drawn to the unpleasant and vicious Netta Longdon For her part, Netta is a vacuous, pretty and lazy woman, who sponges off men for money and has a half hearted ambition to make it in films When she first meets George who she calls Bone she imagines he is rich once she learns he isn t wealthy, he becomes one of her male admirers, useful for paying bills or being allowed to take her out During the course of this novel, Netta behaves and outrageously, treating George shamefully, while he wallows miserably in his obsessive desire.
This is a bleak novel both darkly humorous and touchingly sad You hope that George manages to break free of the awful Netta and his drunken existence, while sympathising with his inability to start afresh Hamilton is an author who deserves not to be forgotten he has a deft touch and a real feeling for the underdog This is a moving read and the characters will stay with you long after you have finished reading.
Hamilton Captures The Edgy, Obsessive And Eventually Murderous Mindset Of A Romantically Frustrated British Man In This WWII Era Novel London , And In The Grimy Publands Of Earls Court, George Harvey Bone Is Pursuing A Helpless Infatuation With Netta Who Is Cool, Contemptuous And Hopelessly Desirable To George George Is Adrift In Hell, Until Something Goes Click In His Head And He Realizes That He Must Kill Her This is an absolutely fantastic novel I insist you read it now.
In many ways this is a tragic tale Imagine George Harvey Bone, a gentle giant who is perhaps not the quickest on the uptake, but is fundamentally a decent human being Sometimes he falls into these dead moods , where he seems to switch off from the world around him, but there s no disguising how nice and vulnerable George Bone is.
Unfortunately, at some point, he s fallen in with a bad crowd, or specifically a bad woman Netta Longdon is an actress of questionable ability and a rancid, scheming personality Undeniably she is beautiful although, perhaps in hard way and Bone has fallen for her looks and created a lovely and glorious personality to match The real Netta is vain and utterly selfish, and leads Bone along for as long as he s useful to her She and her various vicious friends take advantage of him, abandon him, then pick him up once when he might be useful again And because he has so pathetically lost his heart and his sense, he keeps following behind with his dreams of an idealised Netta.
This then is a tale of a man who has laid out his deepest emotions unwisely and is paying a terrible price.
However, when George is having his dead moods he doesn t just switch off, he becomes a whole other person Even he hasn t realised that he has a split personality And this other George Bone is a decisive and angrier individual, and has geared his mind towards nothing else but killing Netta Longdon.
Patrick Hamilton is like Somerset Maugham whose The Moon and the Sixpence I read last A writer who was highly successful in his day, but now has his books kept in print by a few devoted followers When it comes to Hangover Square , that s a real shame as it s a bloody masterpiece Despite its setting London, immediately before The Second World War there s something timeless about it Yes, it s geographically specific to Earl s Court and there are references to drinks and food and money which doesn t exist any, but this is a deeply affecting tale of loneliness, thwarted love and lives cut adrift Of a man who has somehow missed his correct path in life and finds himself trapped on a route with no happy destination And so even though the denouement is inevitable for nearly every page of the book, it will still give the empathetic reader a shudder of remorse that such a decent character should have such an end.
This book grew on me, just as Craven House did It is a sad book and it s creepy You get inside the head of one who is mentally disturbed The central character, George Bone who is in his thirties, sinks periodically into deep dark moods In his head it clicks or cracks and a shutter is pulled down He doesn t remember what he is doing or has done or where he has been He has crazy ideas and thoughts Dangerous ideas and thoughts that will certainly get him into trouble if he follows them through Perhaps what is depicted is a form of temporal lobe epilepsy In any case, it is frightening what he experiences When less stressed, he at times appears almost fine, so normal that you can easily get annoyed at his behavior He and his so called friends drink incessantly He s gullible, he is easily duped, he lets himself be used you want to shake him and tell himself to have some backbone It is difficult watching a person who allows himself to be trampled upon I fluctuated between being annoyed at him and feeling sorry for him As you get further and further into the book you get deeper and deeper into his head You come to fully understand what he is gong through The author s ability to show the reader George s world is what makes the book very good The book is set in London at the start of the Second World War in 1939 The setting moves to Brighton and Maidenhead too Infatuation, unrequited love and the world of the screen and film crowd color the book Piers Hampton narrates the audiobook very well He renders both conversations and thoughts convincingly.
I am not going to recommend this book to everyone It is dark It is sad, but it also realistically shows a good person suffering under a mental disability The Slaves of Solitude 4 stars Craven House 4 stars Hangover Square 4 stars