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Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton

Hangover Square (edition 2006)

by Patrick Hamilton

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7481312,439 (4.11)63
Title:Hangover Square
Authors:Patrick Hamilton
Info:Europa Editions (2006), Paperback, 280 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Read in 2012, 1940s, *3.5, stars

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Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton



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Hangover Square Patrick Hamilton

Set in Earls Court London in 1939 this is the story of George Harvey Bone a mild mannered, pathetic drunkard who is obsessed with the beautiful but contemptuous Netta.

George seems to suffer from either split personality disorder or schizophrenia as he has 2 very distinct modes of life which he describes as he brain flicking a switch. In his normal life he is the stooge to Netta and her group of admirers while in his "dead mood" real life becomes like a silent film and George's only purpose is to kill Netta, each life is separate and when inhabiting one he cannot remember the other until late in the book when things begin to cross over.

George is an unlikely character because he is a drunk, because he is desperate for someone to love him and because he allows Netta and her group to walk all over him, however he is more likeable than every other character (with the exception of one) and so as a reader I found myself routing for him to allow the "dead mood" to take control and for Netta to get what is coming to her.
( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Really wonderful novel. So human, so tragic. For me, not quite as strong as 'Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky', but only because of its smaller scale. ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Dec 29, 2015 |
One of those rares stories that makes you sympathize and scared for the main character. Emotionally gripping and memorable. A great, well-written novel. ( )
  Algybama | Jun 25, 2014 |
Last year when I had no access to my Patrick Hamilton books I suddenly had an urge to re-read HANGOVER SQUARE again. I had a good memory of his other books but all I could remember of this book was the general mood so I re-read it as soon as I could this year.

After a page or two I was back in Hamilton's claustrophobic 1930s world of dingy hotel rooms, bare lightbulbs in overhead light sockets, run-down heels, frayed shirtsleeves and hopeful, hopeless inhabitants.

George Harvey Bone is unemployed and existing in a run-down Earl's Court hotel with only a stray cat for company. He spends his days drifting around the West End and drinking with a handful of acquaintances who hold him in vague contempt. He puts up with the slights if it means he can be close to Netta, the group's tawdry nucleus, a sometime actress. What Bone is sadly aware of is that Netta is an ungrateful user but one day, he is sure she will realize that he truly loves her and stop being beastly to him.

However what the reader knows is that he is an undiagnosed schizophrenic and frequently a 'click' goes off in his head and another Bone exists, existing in a submerged, slow-motion state, with one thought in his mind... to kill Netta.

Hamilton skillfully makes Bone sympathetic despite his many flaws and provides wonderfully drawn characters such as the ghastly ex-soldier Peter who is Bone's main contender for the dubious pleasure of Netta and Johnny, an ex-workmate of Bone who bumps into him in a café and whose renewed friendship provides him with a glimpse of normalcy and in a hotel in Brighton, a moment of supreme one-up-manship over Netta. The character of Netta is also wonderfully realized, a low-rent glamour girl, a tart with a heart of pure flint. One suspects Hamilton writes her while dipping his pen in a well of experience.

Lowering over them all is the threat of European fascism with newsreels and newspapers making all their futures uncertain.

A classic from a criminally under-rated writer. ( )
1 vote Chris_V | May 28, 2013 |
I've never read anything by Hamilton in the past, but after reading Hangover Square, that will not be the case in the future. It was, in a word, amazing, and I can't remember reading anything even remotely similar. The book examines one man's tenuous hold on reality that is threatened by obsession, alcohol and illness. It reads a bit on the noir side and would be equally good for readers who like that genre and readers of literary fiction.

Opening Christmas of 1938, continuing on through 1939, the scene is Earl's Court, a small neighborhood on the seamier side of London. A small hotel room in Earl's Court is home to George Harvey Bone, the main character is this story. Since his schooldays, George has had what he calls his "dead moods," where all of a sudden everything changes from normal to where "there was only himself -- his dreary, numbed, dead self." George suffers from schizophrenia, and lately gets a "click" in his head when he's about to change. He goes into a state where it's like being at a movie where the soundtrack is missing, where people move about and do their thing but he's unaware of them. In this mode that he is surprisingly the most rational, a different George Harvey Bone, whose thoughts are clear as day. He has trouble remembering what he was doing beforehand, and he doesn't remember his actions or thoughts during these dead moods when he comes out of them. However, his main focus while in this state is trying to remember that there's something to be done -- and that is to kill Netta.

Hangover Square is an amazing book. While an easy book to read, it was a bit personally disquieting, not so much because of the ending but because I was so divided in my sympathies at the end. It's one of those stories that makes you question your thinking, and I believe that the author had to have done this on purpose. Once in a while you read one of those rare books where you're emotionally floored at the end; this is one of those. There is absolutely nothing feel good or happy between the covers of this book, yet I was totally compelled to read it in one sitting -- it's that good. George Harvey Bone and Netta will keep you turning pages, but in and among that story there is also a look at social class, the interwar generation and their misguided ideologies, and the utter waste of productive, good lives as a period of peace is about to explode into a dark time of war. I highly recommend this novel -- but don't read it while you're depressed. It's one of my favorite reads for 2011.

I also have a more lengthy review at my reading journal, if you're at all interested. ( )
  bcquinnsmom | Sep 6, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick Hamiltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Priestley, J.B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Schizophrenia: ... a cleavage of the mental functions, associated with assumption by the affected person of a second personality. -- Black's Medical Dictionary
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Click! ... Here it was again! He was walking along a cliff at Hunstanton and it had come again ... Click! ...
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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