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The water gipsies by A. P. Herbert

The water gipsies (edition 1973)

by A. P. Herbert

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451379,972 (4.1)None
Title:The water gipsies
Authors:A. P. Herbert
Info:Harmondsworth : Penguin, 1973.
Collections:Your library
Tags:04 7069, PK69, peacock

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The Water Gipsies by A. P. Herbert



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Seriocomic novel set in contemporary London and vicinity. The principal character is Jane Bell, a girl of the lower classes living on a barge (owing to losses incurred by her ne'er do well father in horse racing). Her relationships with Fred (an illiterate bargeman), Ernest (a fiery Socialist) and Mr. Bryan (the artistic son of a peer) form the basis of the novel. There are some bright moments of comedy, as you would expect from Herbert, who was a master of the genre, but there are certainly some wince-inducing moments, and not all of them are of the kind that I think Herbert intended. It's certainly curious to see a Socialist cast as something of a villain, and the Socialist version of Sunday School is presented, not without a certain ration of acid. (Herbert himself was an independent MP, though he had not been elected as such at the time the book came out.) To be sure, some of the Bright Young Things (like Bryan's fiancee and another lady) aren't treated much better. Quite a lot of talk about domestic violence and out of wedlock marriage, which might have been a bit surprising in 1930 (and doubly surprising for a book that has been printed in youth editions). Interesting, and well-written, but like flat champagne, it left me with a lingering sour taste that was hard to dispel. A few footnotes: Herbert lived near Hammersmith, where the novel is set, owned a yacht called Water Gipsy, which he used during his World War II service on the river, and was a noted supporter of river activities. ( )
  EricCostello | Mar 25, 2018 |
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