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The Holiday by Stevie Smith
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The Holiday (original 1949; edition 1979)

by Stevie Smith

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181493,749 (3.3)47
Member:konallis
Title:The Holiday
Authors:Stevie Smith
Info:London : Virago, 1979.
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:general fiction verily, read 2010

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The Holiday by Stevie Smith (1949)

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it's hard to give a plot synopsis. does it have a plot? but i enjoyed it very much while i was actually reading it. but i can't really tell you what was going on. ( )
  mahallett | Aug 3, 2015 |
I enjoyed this book but I do think it is very much of its time: it feels like it was written in the 40s (which it was), although I did relate to the mood of the book, which is pensive and melancholic (hmm, what does this say about me...?!). It focuses on a young woman, Celia, whose job (and life) is sometimes meaningful but which often seems pointless in the post second world war London. Relationships are tense and people cry - a lot - which I found moving occasionally, and irritating too.

There were some beautiful poetic passages in the book, like 'I feel absolutely ghost-girl deficient' which I think captures the strange existence the group of people experience and reflect. The book also tackles some serious issues of the day in terms of the politics of post-war Britain and topics such as the place of women in society: 'he said the more gadgets women had and the more they thought about their faces and their figures, the less they wanted to have children...he said women who thought about scanty panties never had a comfortable fire burning in the fire-place, or a baby on the house, or a dog or cat or a parrot...' (p.69 in my edition).

I didn't find the book a pleasure to read, but I did think it raised some interesting questions and left me with an impression of what post-war Britain might have been like for some people (the characters are definitely not representative of anything but a small section of well-off society), as well as being beautifully written overall. ( )
  tixylix | Jan 5, 2012 |
The Holiday is set in England in 1949 and tells the story of Celia who works in a government Ministry. She and her cousin, who she's secretly in love with, go to stay with their Uncle Heber for a holiday. And that's it really. The story's a bit slow for me and I drifted off during some of the long conversations between Celia and her cousin, but I did enjoy the discussions about what victory means for a country. There was a real sense that after the intense experience of the Second World War and the excitement of victory, it's not clear what remains, apart from some very damaged people. ( )
  charbutton | Jul 5, 2010 |
The Holiday is set in post-war uncertainty. It contains lots of uncertainty; uncertainty over the war, over India, over Britain's role in the world, over love, and over life. It starts as Celia is at work in the ministry. We're introduced to her friends and family in a witty almost biting tone. Stories about their childhood and ideas about politics are passed back and fourth in dizzying conversation (warning for purists: no speech marks, although once you get into things it's not a problem) Eventually (it feels like an eternity) she goes on the promised holiday and talks more of politics and religion and ideals.

It's a difficult novel, frustrating at times. In it is contained a number of poems a short story that really broke things up and tried my concentration. It's painful to read too, Celia's love for her cousin Caz can never come to conclusion (or really be admitted) and she cries often. It's not only Celia that cries. Caz seemed to me to be harsh and repulsive in a childish way that almost made be want to scold him.

I'm not sure if I should say but here. Is it despite the difficulty or because of it? Either way I should not go without saying that this novel is a beautiful portrait of confusion, uncertainty and pain. ( )
6 vote Staramber | Mar 18, 2008 |
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I was working over some figures with Tony at the Ministry; it was a figure code.
Stevie Smith was first and last a poet, not a novelist. (Introduction)
Quotations
All up and down Hertfordshire from Hertford to Bayford through Monks Green Woods over the estates of the Marquis of Salisbury, over Sir Lionel Faudel Phillip's fields, through the woods of Smith-Bosanquet, we fought and raged and also we laughed a lot and kissed and sang.
Now I suspect that for me Hertfordshire is the operative word... Oh lovely Hertfordshire, so quiet and unassuming, so much of the real countryside, so little of beastly over-rated bungaloid Surrey-Sussex with all of its uproar of weekend traffic to and from Bloomsbury, Hertfordshire is my love and always has been, it is so unexciting, so quiet, its woods so thick and abominably drained, so pashy underneath, if you do not know the lie of the land you had better keep out. Yes, I think anyway you had better keep out.
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Book description
From the book cover:
Celia lives in a London suburb with her beloved aunt in the post-war England of 1949. Witty, fragile, and quixotic, Celia is preoccupied with love-for her friends, her colleagues, her relatives, and especially for her adored cousin Casmilus, with whom she goes on holiday to visit Uncle Heber, the vicar. There they talk endlessly, argue, eat, tell stories, love, and hate. Wild humor alternates with waves of melancholy as Celia obsessively ponders the inevitable anguish of love. In this entrancing autobiographical tale, Stevie Smith captures the paradox of pain in all human affections.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0860680673, Paperback)

Celia lives in a London suburb with her beloved aunt in the post-war England of 1949. Witty, fragile, and quixotic, Celia is preoccupied with love—for her friends, her colleagues, her relatives, and especially for her adored cousin Casmilus, with whom she goes on holiday to visit Uncle Heber, the vicar. There they talk endlessly, argue, eat, tell stories, love, and hate. Wild humor alternates with waves of melancholy as Celia obsessively ponders the inevitable anguish of love. In this entrancing autobiographical tale, Stevie Smith captures the paradox of pain in all human affections.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:15 -0400)

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