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Company Parade by Storm Jameson

Company Parade (original 1934; edition 1982)

by Storm Jameson

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144483,153 (3.61)99
Title:Company Parade
Authors:Storm Jameson
Info:Random House (1982), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 350 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:to-read, virago-classics

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Company Parade by Storm Jameson (1934)



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Company Parade begins just after the Armistice. Hervey Russell has left her home in the north of England to work in a London advertising firm, while her husband Penn finishes his military service. Her very young son Richard remains at home, cared for by others. Penn turns out to be an immature jerk: he delays the end of his military career, missing out on job vacancies snatched up by others returning from the front; he carries on with another woman; he treats Hervey poorly. Hervey is a writer, and her attempts to establish a literary career are painful to read. She has a network of friends, mostly male, and all are reeling from losing loved ones in the war.

The story continues over a 5-year period with Penn becoming even more of a jerk and Hervey still struggling. She had grounds for divorce but wouldn't do it, even though she was tremendously unhappy being with him. She frustrated me that way. There are some beautiful passages in this novel -- I especially liked an entire chapter devoted to how various characters marked the two minute silence.

I've rated this book a grudging 3 stars because the writing is absolutely gorgeous. But that wasn't enough for me. I found myself falling asleep in my reading chair, avoiding reading, and/or forcing myself to read. Well, that's just wrong, isn't it? ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | Nov 21, 2013 |
At the end of WW I, Hervey Russell leaves her young son with a caretaker in the country and goes to make her fortune in London. She has already written one novel, and knows that she is destined to be famous. She doesn't understand why her husband, Penn is in no hurry to demobilise from the Air Force and resume his career as a school teacher. Hervey finds steady work as a novice copywriter, mentored by a crippled war vet.

Hervey (as well as most of the younger characters in the book) has no firm plan with how to get on with her life, or even what she wants out of life, other than to do the best she can for her young son, Richard, and the fierce desire to become 'famous'. The novel is a wonderful kaleidoscope of the hard life in London immediately after WW I, and the aimlessness and frustrations of the returning vets and young working people.

The first of a planned five part series (only three were written), by Storm Jameson. Her writing is realistic and detailed. Her people are far from perfect, but very human. ( )
1 vote JoLynnsbooks | May 23, 2012 |
Company Parade is the story of Hervey Russell, who leaves her little son at the end of the First World War, in order to make a better home for him and to give him the opportunities he deserves. She gets a job as an advertising copy writer on the basis of a first novel and manages to endure separation by working and by spending time with two old friends (Class of 1913), Philip and T.S. Hervey is a person of contradictions: brilliant, defiantly shy, ambitious, passionate, self-assertive, almost pathetically diffident and placating. She shares her friends' radicalism; she anticipates and fears her husband's demobilization; she misses her son; she yearns and determines to make her mark in the world. The novel expands around Hervey into the lives of other equally interesting characters.
Jameson's prose is lovely - quiet and individual with arresting turns of phrase which do not interrupt the narrative flow. I'm struck by a short paragraph in which Hervey is walking to interview for a job. "When the day came she put on a newly bought hat. This was a mistake." The paragraph progresses as Hervey walks slowly and rehearses her answers to questions until we read, "Here she caught sight of herself in a shop window in Mount Street and straightened her hat. It is easy to imagine that you are a success; it is not so easy to imagine that your hat is on straight when it is in fact over one ear." This perfectly captures the vulnerability of a talented, insecure young woman, and I find it wonderful.
Company Parade was intended to be the first of five or six novels in which Storm Jameson would "depict the contemporary scene," that of England following WWI. In the end she wrote only three books, saying "The deep reason why I abandoned Mirror in Darkness {her title for the series}... was a stifled instinct that I was working against the grain of my talent." Whatever she meant, I felt none of the characters really came to life. They were complex, believable, interesting, but lacking some spark of vitality without which a book never becomes an alternate reality. I will certainly read the other two books in the series and am very happy to have discovered Storm Jameson. ( )
10 vote LizzieD | Dec 17, 2011 |
Set in the years just after WWI, Company Parade is about a young writer, Hervey Russell, who comes to London to work as an advertising copywriter. Her husband is in the Air Force still, and her young son is still in Yorkshire. This is a novel with good characterization, although I thought Hervey was a little hypocritical; she doesn’t feel guilty about her relationship with Jess Gage, but she’s really hurt when she finds out that her husband has had an affair… but I did love the author’s descriptions of London, especially the Piccadilly area. ( )
1 vote Kasthu | Oct 22, 2011 |
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A young woman comes to London in the month after the Armistice.
This book is the first or perhaps five, or six, novels in which an attempt, necessarily incomplete, is made to depict the contemporary scene. (Foreword)
After more then a decade of writing fiction, a note of Storm Jameson's, dated 25 October 1930, declared her intention 'to write henceforward with the most unromantic plainness'. (Introduction)
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"She was too restless to work or write. She thought of Richard, of her unmanageable desires and her unabateable ambitions...My life is in pieces, I am nothing, I have achieved nothing; yet I will, she thought."
In the month of the 1918 Armistice a young woman, Hervey Russell, comes to London to seek her fortune. Inexperienced and poor, she has all the dreams of youth. Hervey is alone, her husband in the Air Force still, her baby son in Yorkshire. She plunges into the social and political ferment of London life with her friends T.S. and Philip, her slovenly neighbour Delia, and her lover, the American Jess Gage. This is the beginning of Hervey's story...
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