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England made me by Graham Greene
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England made me (original 1935; edition 1973)

by Graham Greene

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534618,751 (3.33)32
Member:baswood
Title:England made me
Authors:Graham Greene
Info:Harmondsworth : Penguin, 1973.
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:None

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England Made Me by Graham Greene (1935)

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
A gripping story with Greene's usual sympathetic portrayals of characters caught out of their depth by circumstances. Anthony Farrant, a ne'er-do-well adventurer, finds himself employed by a Swedish tycoon, through the influence of his sister who is the tycoon's secretary and mistress. All of them and a few members of the press for good measure, find themselves sliding into dangerous areas, resorting to treachery and deceit. The writing has Green's usual taut control, oddly marred here by a couple of extraneous excursions into 1930s modern experimentation - stream of conscious, mosaic. ( )
  sjnorquist | Apr 7, 2014 |
When Green's great, he's amazing - as in The Power and the Glory. When he's bad, as in The Captain and the Enemy, he's utterly atrocious. I thought this closer to the second for most of the book, but then realized that I'd just been misled. The blurb made it sound like a potboiler (the blurb ends with an ellipses, for goodness' sake), and the characters' names make it read like a potboiler ('Krogh'? 'Minty'?). But it's not a potboiler. And it's been ruined for me forever now. But if you like grim reflections of life, you'll like this. Just ignore the blurb and the silly names. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
If this book had been writen in the last few years with it's banking crisis and failing economies you could say that he was just merely jumping on the bandwagon but this was first published in 1935 and was the book that was said to have brought him to prominence within the literary community.

As with many of Greene's books he paints a moody scene but there is little action and all the characters are seen as flawed, damaged by public school life.The book is basically about the decline of a conman, Anthony Farrant, who has been sacked from various jobs and kicked out of gentlmens' clubs all over the world but finds a kindred spirit in his sister's boss/boyfriend, Krogh, who gives him a job. Ultimately Farrant is killed by a jealous accolyte of Krogh.

Although the relationship between Farrant and his twin sister Kate is interesting this book fell rather flat with me. I personally found none of the characters particularily appealing and although the book is supposed to be about 'personal morality' none seemed to show anything but a selfish self-centred personality. The character Minty I found particularily distasteful.

Although this was an interesting read it is not one which will live long in the memory (personally I feel that when Greene is good he is very good but when he is poor he is shocking and this falls nearer the latter than the former) but perhaps that is because I never went to public school ( )
  PilgrimJess | Mar 2, 2013 |
England Made Me published in 1935 was hugely disappointing after reading Stamboul Train published some three years earlier. Once again we are plunged into a world of unsavoury characters, but whereas Stamboul Train was a tightly written thriller oozing atmosphere and suspense; England Made Me is poorly written, unevenly paced and lacks any impetus.

The problem with England Made Me is that Greene seems to spend the first half of the novel thrashing around seeking a style of writing that will tell his story to greater effect. He uses stream of conscious techniques, he changes viewpoints from 3rd person to 1st person and back again and he writes obliquely in an attempt to surround his characters in a world of mystery and uncertainty. Unfortunately for the most part he does not pull it off and we are left with a disjointed novel that only really finds it's feet halfway through and then staggers on to a less than satisfactory conclusion. Some of the writing is just poor. First of all I thought it was the yellowing pages and the small print of my 1974 paperback edition that was causing the difficulty, but when I slowed down I found that I still could not grasp the meaning or reason in some of the poorly constructed sentences.

The plot is built around Kate's love for her ne'er do well brother Anthony. She is secretary and mistress to Krogh a captain of industry based in Copenhagen. When Anthony turns up penniless after various failed employments around the world Kate gets him a job with Krogh. Anthony becomes Krogh's bodyguard and immediately schemes to find a way of making some quick money. Krogh is in the middle of re-financing a new venture in America and is using illegal methods to do so. Anthony has no difficulty in finding out about these schemes and uses some contacts with desperate press reporters to make his money, not caring about the consequences for his sister or her lover. The overriding feel to this novel is the characters uncaring attitudes to people around them. They are all looking out for the main chance with a complete disregard for anybody else. It is difficult to feel any empathy for any of them.

Perhaps some of the problems stem from the relationship between Kate and Anthony. Greene hints time and again that it is incestuous, but because it is shrouded in vagaries he can never explore this in any depth. Therefore the brother and sisters relationship with Krogh is never pinned down in a satisfactory way leaving the novel tottering on an insecure base.

It is Graham Greene and so there are some good passages of prose. The minor characters are well portrayed and individual scenes do resonate. The desperate atmosphere of the inter-war years in the shadow of a rampant Germany is well caught as is the city of Copenhagen, but this does not save the novel from being largely unsatisfactory.

If you are new to Graham Greene my advice would be not to start with this novel. It feels like a writer in transition, who may be enjoyed here by those readers who are more familiar with his oeuvre ( )
3 vote baswood | Jun 5, 2011 |
This is a rather early Graham Greene novel, that never quite seems to get going. The Stockholm setting is interesting, and gives the book a similar feeling to some of John Le Carré's thrillers.

The story centres around the curious triangular relationship between the twins Anthony and Kate Farrant and Kate's boss Krogh. Kate is the archetypal efficient PA, Anthony the equally archetypal young man whom public school has rendered incapable of holding down a job. And of course we know from the beginning that Kate is making a big mistake in fixing Anthony up with a job with Krogh, because he's a Graham Greene character who will inevitably betray them all...
  thorold | Apr 23, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
"wonderfully readable"
added by GYKM | editDaily Telegraph
 
"Greene arouses responses of curiosity and attention comparable to those set up by Malraux, Faulkner and Hemingway"
added by GYKM | editNew Statesman
 
Too often the author of "England Made Me" seems to be shadow-boxing, not delivering the full punch. But the story is skillfully fabricated, and the suspense so well maintained that any one who starts it is certain to go to the end.

 
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To Vivien With Ten Years' Love 1925-1935
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England Made Me was also released as The Shipwrecked.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140185518, Paperback)

Anthony Farrant has boasted, lied and cheated his way through jobs all over the world. Then his twin sister, Kate, gets him taken on as the bodyguard of Krogh, her lover and boss, a megalomaniac Swedish financier. All goes well until Krogh gives orders that offend Anthony's innate decency.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:46 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Anthony Farrant has always found his way, lying to get jobs and borrowing money to get by when he leaves them in a hurry. His twin sister Kate persuades him to move and sets him up with a job as a bodyguard to Krogh, which has drastic results.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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