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Loving (1945)

by Henry Green

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6201528,590 (3.31)78
"Loving is set in the vast hereditary house of the Tennants, an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family, but the story mainly involves their servants. The war has led to a scarcity of experienced staff, and when Eldon the butler dies, Raunce the head doorman is assigned his job. The other servants are taken aback by this irregular promotion, but lovely young Edith, a recent hire, is quite attracted to the older Raunce and a flirtation begins. And it is Edith who discovers Mrs. Tennant's daughter, whose husband is fighting at the front, in bed with a neighbor one morning, scandalizing the whole household. When the Tennants depart for England, Raunce is left in charge of the house and struggles to control its disputatious inhabitants as well as to secure the love of Edith, especially after a precious family jewel disappears. In Loving, Henry Green explores the deeply precarious nature of ordinary life against the background of the larger world at war"--… (more)
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» See also 78 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
For anyone not born, bred and educated in mid 20th Century England, Henry Green could be difficult to appreciate. Evelyn Waugh is under appreciated in the US too, for the same reason. Both use dialogue to define character, and a significant part of that definition is to establish where in the labyrinthine class system they actually fit. An emancipated American might say "class does not define character", but in Green's time it certainly defined the perception of character, if not by the author then by the other personae in the book. And the way they spoke was the key. ( )
  scunliffe | Jul 17, 2021 |
very british. ( )
  stravinsky | Dec 28, 2020 |
It sheds light on the lives of servants of an English estate in Ireland during WW2, and the dialogue sounds true, but it is mostly made up of rather mundane and desultory exchanges between the servants with little narrative or interior dialogue. It also took me close to half the book to become accustomed to the language. I did eventually find myself warming to the characters, but didn’t understand the high acclaim that the author has received. ( )
  Misprint | Aug 31, 2020 |
[Loving] could be a traditional English (well, Irish) countryside estate family novel. But this 1945 book by Henry Green treats the familiar story in an unfamiliar way. The servants are the focus, the book is written in almost all dialogue, and there's quite a lot of sexual tension for this type of novel.

Most of the plot involves the death of the long-time butler and the assumption of the role by Charley Raunce. He struggles to navigate this new role. WWII is going on and the family goes to England to see the son who is on a brief leave. The servants take full advantage of this departure and things get a little crazy.

The magic of this brief novel is the writing style. Because it's virtually all dialogue, there is a lot taking place behind the words that the reader needs to extrapolate. The scattered thoughts of the characters lead to verbal misunderstandings and some of the exchanges are pretty confusing. Green also doesn't use punctuation in a traditional manner. At first all of this annoyed me, but in the end I am surprised at how close I got to the characters and how memorable they are.

Though this was published in 1945, it still feels like a modern take on the Victorian novel and I recommend it. ( )
  japaul22 | May 2, 2020 |
A detailed story of a manor, and its inhabitants, in Ireland during the Second World War. There are intrigues, fights, gossips, and interrelationships between all of the characters that mould together to form the story. Overall, it was decent.

3 stars. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Jan 3, 2020 |
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"Loving is set in the vast hereditary house of the Tennants, an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family, but the story mainly involves their servants. The war has led to a scarcity of experienced staff, and when Eldon the butler dies, Raunce the head doorman is assigned his job. The other servants are taken aback by this irregular promotion, but lovely young Edith, a recent hire, is quite attracted to the older Raunce and a flirtation begins. And it is Edith who discovers Mrs. Tennant's daughter, whose husband is fighting at the front, in bed with a neighbor one morning, scandalizing the whole household. When the Tennants depart for England, Raunce is left in charge of the house and struggles to control its disputatious inhabitants as well as to secure the love of Edith, especially after a precious family jewel disappears. In Loving, Henry Green explores the deeply precarious nature of ordinary life against the background of the larger world at war"--

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