Archive for patrick hamilton

Dear Reader I read it Book Review: Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton

Posted in Dear Reader I read it! Book reviews with tags , , , on May 23, 2011 by echostains
Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton

It was only the other week that I found a cache of Patrick Hamilton books in Borders book shop.  I had promised myself that I would read the rest of his books, having greatly enjoyed 20,000 Streets under the Sky‘.  I bought ‘Hangover Square’, ‘The Slaves of Solitude and the Gorse Trilogy.  Already I have read ‘Hangover Square’ and ‘The Slaves of Solitude‘!

the author Patrick Hamilton
the author Patrick Hamilton

‘Hangover Square’ has an atmosphere: a kind of ominous ‘abandon all hope all ye who enter here’atmosphere. Set in London in 1939 with war just around the corner, the ‘hero’ (well, kind of victim) George Harvey Bone wanders round the drinking bars of London doing absolutely nothing except drink and prostrate himself at the feet of one of the most cold, selfish madams I have read about for a long time.  The nastier and more manipulative Netta becomes, the more pathetic and dejected Bone becomes, until you feel sorry for him one minute and the next, want to give him a good shaking!

Love is the Devil, a study of  artist Francis Bacon

Love is the Devil, a study of artist Francis Bacon

It’s obvious to the reader exactly what Netta is, but Bone is the last to work her out.  His head is filled with romantic notions of taking her away from everything, marrying her and living happily ever after.  George Harvey Bone, though flawed has a few things going for him, his views of the world are simplistic, and you get the impression that he’s quite a decent sort of person underneath it all.  He’s just caught in a trap really, it’s not his fault, it’s the clicking in his head: he has no choice when this happens – he becomes psychotic…… but if only he could remember what he has to do?

You get glimpses into ‘what he has to do’ (if he could only remember…and he does).  So, as George makes excuses for Netta, the reader makes excuses for George.  I would love to see this made into  movie with modern actors.  I would cast  Daniel Craig as George.  He is a fine actor, and would bring the right amount of pathos to the character.  Forget Bond (this man can play anything) he was fabulous as George Dyer, boyfriend of David Jacobi’s Francis Bacon in ‘Love is the Devil’.  He plays an excellent drunk, has the right build and the right eyes!

Keelly Hawes as Netta perhaps?
Keelly Hawes as Netta perhaps?

I don’t know who could play Netta, who is dark haired, perhaps Keely Hawes with dark hair?  Netta is an extremely attractive, cold dismissive person but can be cringingly charming when she wants something.  In short – a user. She gets her reward, not in heaven but by the ending of the book.  It says a lot for the quality of of the writing, that by the end of this book, my sympathies lie with George, and Netta is dismissed, just as she dismissed George………  Reader Beware!  Hamilton has a way of changing you.

This post was transferred from my Art Blog Echostains

Dear Reader I read it ‘The Gorse trilogy’ by Patrick Hamilton

Posted in Dear Reader I read it! Book reviews with tags , , , on March 6, 2011 by echostains
patrick hamilton
patrick hamilton

I have just finished reading The Gorse Trilogy by Patrick Hamilton. Though I enjoyed most of it, I felt the end  (the third part) was lacking in conclusion, though the promise was there. Yes, I was disappointed in the end. Hamilton seemed to be just filling the last couple of pages with words just for the sake of it: meaningless to me. I could almost hear the music of Coronation Street being played at high speed and the credits rolling up and myself booted out onto the street… that’s how rushed it was.

the slaves of solitude by patrick hamilton
the slaves of solitude by patrick hamilton

The rest of the book was good though. The character of Gorse is a strange one. Under a (thin) veneer of charm lurks a nasty snake with cold eyes and a cold calculating heart. I am now mystified though. I really enjoyed the TV version of these books. The series was called ‘The Charmer made in 1987 and starred Nigel Havers as Gorse. Needless to say, the series bore only a vague resemblance of the book. I’m sure he kills Plumleigh – Bruce (a fabulously descriptive name), and I’m pretty sure Mr Stimpson does some detective work on Gorse.

Nigel Havers in The Charmer
Nigel Havers in The Charmer

 And where is the rich socialite Clarice Mannors in all this? Thrown in, to give the series a ‘love’ interest, a ‘reason’ for Gorse to do what he does, probably. Of course there’s no excuse for Gorse’s behaviour, in the book. He’s just naturally bad.

I did find it a bit incongruous that barmaid Ivy Barton would have such savings, and also her father (a dismissed Gamekeeper £200). Also, Mrs Plumleigh -Bruce wasn’t exactly loaded, perhaps her weakness was greed and elitism. Gorse plays on weaknesses. I think that if I hadn’t previously seen ‘The Charmer’ years ago, I wouldn’t have had pre conceived ideas about Gorse or the plot. Parts of this book are very funny  (though Gorse himself isn’t) and some of the characters ridiculously human. I especially enjoyed the writing in Plumleigh – Bruce’s diary – absolutely hilarious!

My posts about other Hamilton books;

‘The Slaves of Solitude’

‘Hangover Square’

Note: This review appeared originally on my art blog Echostains

DVD review ‘Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky’ by Patrick Hamilton

Posted in Watched it with tags , , , , on January 21, 2011 by echostains

I don’t know what it is recently, but I have the urge or need to watch a DVD most nights before going to bed, no matter how late it is. Unfortunately for me, I have already exhausted my supply, so now it’s a case of playing ‘repeats’. The trouble is that they have to match my mood. You would think then that this wouldn’t be a problem. What sort of mood am I in? Well, I don’t really know for sure until I play one. The other night, I felt this need to watch something. I debated whether to watch part 3 of I Claudius. It’s my favourite part, with John Hurt as Caligula. But no – no sooner had I got it out of it’s sleeve, then back it went. The next applicant was ‘Byron’ starring Johnny Lee Miller. This I ran for about 15 minutes before ejecting. I toyed with Bleak House for a few minutes, eventually plumping for ‘Twenty Thousand streets under the sky’ with Sally Hawkins, Zoë Tapper and Bryan Dick.


the DVD fabulous!

It is a trilogy by Patrick Hamilton, but originally 3 seperate books. Each story tells the three protagonists own tale. The first one ‘The Midnight Bell’ sets the scene for most of the tale, the ‘Midnight Bell’ pub in which Bob is a barman or waiter. He comes across as bright, cheerful, charming and honest, but by the time the tale ends he is a very different person (and a lot lighter in wallet). The Midnight Bell is Bob’s side of the story. We see him worshipped by Ella, also of the Midnight bell, with a room next to his. Ella is just a friend, though she may have stood more of a chance if Bob had not seen Jenny the prostitute who steals his heart amongst other things.

Bob and Jenny who leads him a merry dance

The second tale ‘The siege of pleasure’ is Jenny’s story and seen from her point of view. It tells of Jenny’ descent from poor but respectable skivvy into prostitution through her addiction to drink. It is a sordid tale of seduction, deceit and rather sad. Even when offered by Bob, a way out, Jenny does not divert from the path she has chosen. Probably the most noblest thing she does, is let him down at the end, though that is debateable

poor lonely Ella

The last tale, ’The plains of cement’ is Ella the barmaids tale. In some ways although this one does have some humour in it, it is also the most poignant. The humour (though disturbing) is down to the elderly, well off Mr Eccles, an elderly customer who takes a shine to Ella (who’s in love with Bob, who is in love with Jenny, who is in love with money and booze). Though unsuitable as a boyfriend, Eccles at least sees Ella as a ‘young beautiful thing) and she isn’t offered many chances: Both are lonely: both are destined to stay so


The book, a jolly good read

None of these people achieve their hearts desires. The acting is positively superb and the atmosphere is convincingly 1930s smoky pubs. First shown on BBC TV and available on DVD. I’ve watched this over and over again and read the book: a marvellously good read. I would say that the BBC version is very faithful to the book. The characters are very 3 dimensional and all too human.

This review was originally on my Echostains blog

‘Authors I’ve Read: Patrick Hamilton’

Posted in Authors I've read with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2010 by echostains

patrick hamilton

I read 3 Patrick Hamilton books last year and reviewed them all on my ‘Echostains’ blog.  I could transfer them to ‘Bookstains’, but I believe duplicate posts are missed by Google, I will put the links to my reviews here;-


I had watched ‘Twenty thousand streets under the sun’ when it came on TV, then I had to have the DVD….it was only a short step to reading the book.  My first  taste of Hamilton was underway, though it was quite a time before I got round to reading these three books.   I love the seedy underworld of bygone London.  The real life characters like Francis Bacon (my favorite artist of all time which I still haven’t wrote about – yet), Daniel Farson the journalist, my favorite photographer (and not very nice person) John Deakin, the wonderful Jeffrey Bernard (I love his dark deadpan whingeing, self depreciating humour).  There are reams of Bohemians I could write about  (and I will!) – they all inhabit the seedy side of old London.

HANGOVER SQUARE was the second  of my new Hamilton books.  Same setting – London.  The story is set in a lodging house in the war.  A good read but I found it hurtling towards the end and missing a few serious fences.  Indeed there seemed to be an actual tying up of loose ends for tying up sake.  Some good characters in this book though.

THE GORSE TRINITY  This is the book which was televised in 1987 and called ‘The Charmer’ starring Nigel Havers as Gorse.  I enjoyed this book more than the other two (but not as much as (”Twenty  Thousand Streets under the Sky’).  A wonderful page turner – apart from the end which – well baffled me and left me a bit disappointed.

This reminds me that I have yet to do a review of ‘Twenty Thousand Streets under the sky’ and I must remedy this.  I have done a review of the DVD though which I have watched many times.  This book translated well to screen – well worth watching.  The DVD review HERE