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My Son, My Son by Howard Spring

My Son, My Son

by Howard Spring

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An absolute blockbuster of a novel, narrated by author William Essex. Recalling his childhood as the unwanted son of a Manchester washerwoman, he remembers too his early – and lifelong – burning ambition to become rich.
While in lodgings he becomes friends with Dermot, a gifted carpenter with strong patriotic feelings for the Irish, suffering under English rule. And as the narrative follows the personal and professional lives of the two men, Essex describes a conversation they have on the birth of their respective sons on the same day: Dermot resolves that his son shall achieve what he has not – “I shall never be satisfied with the position of Ireland under the muddy feet of your bloody country. My son shall not be satisfied with it. He shall go to Ireland, he shall learn to be an Irishman as I am not … now you know what I want most passionately in this world for my son.” Essex also wants to realise in his son what he has missed himself: “I’ve been poor in a way that even you have never known … I just want him to have everything. I’ll work my fingers to the bone to give him every damn thing he asks for.”
The two families are always close, but the results of the different input from the fathers into their sons’ upbringing makes for a riveting read, nail-biting to the last. Not, perhaps, great literature, but Howard Spring writes with style and keeps the reader enthralled from the first sentence. I loved his memory – prophetic of things to come - of swimming on a Cornish holiday just before the First World War “The sight of all others most fascinating in those waters: a horde of tiny silver fish, swimming in a long thin procession, ten or a dozen abreast, like a small marine army on the move. Endlessly they went by, never changing their formation, wheeling now to the right, now to the left, but always precise, regimented, moving as by a common will. A small cloud drifted before the sun and the water, still pellucid, turned grey. And the silver fish turned grey. I could still see them: a grey endless army, moving to some unknown encounter across the grey floor of the sea.”
A really good read - I've just bought another of Spring's novels on the strength of it! ( )
  starbox | Mar 17, 2016 |
this was quite boring, but had nothing else to read at the time. ( )
  amaraki | Dec 26, 2015 |
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for Eric Hiscock
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I liked fetching the washing from the Moscrops', and my mother liked washing for Mrs Moscrop better than for anybody else.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Oliver, spoiled by his lavish upbringing, and his father Essex, fall in love with the same woman. Later, while serving heroically in World War I, Oliver has a chance meeting with his father where he confesses his remorse for his spoiled ways, and promises to become a different person.… (more)

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