The Midnight Bell, a pub on the Euston Road, is the pulse of this brilliant and compassionate trilogy. It is here where the barman, Bob, falls in love with Jenny, a West End prostitute who comes in off the streets for a gin and pep. Around his obsessions, and Ella the barmaid's secret love for him, swirls the sleazy life of London in the 1930s. This is a world where people emerge from cheap lodgings in Pimlico to pour out their passions, hopes and despair in pubs and bars - a world of twenty thousand streets full of cruelty and kindness, comedy and pathos, wasted dreams and lost desires.
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Patrick Hamilton was just twenty-four years old when The Midnight Bell was first published in 1929, but his writing told a different story. The narrative he told was, give or take, his own and was of a young man (Euston Road barman Bob) impossibly in love with one of London's "lovely ladies" (Jenny), an infatuation which tore him apart emotionally, and led him steadily from pub to pub to dosshouse. While Hamilton the man managed to extricate himself from his affair and get married, over the next few years Hamilton the writer returned compulsively to the same materials, manipulating unresolved subplots and highlighting minor characters to produce The Siege of Pleasure in 1932 and The Plains of Cement in 1934. Together the three novels form a many-layered and remarkable trilogy, now happily available again in paperback. They conjure brilliantly twenties Britain, emotionally paralysed by class fears and genteel snobbery, but by now completely unable to regain the social certainties of the past. Hamilton captured the psychological complexity of his career losers with a theatricality which would later find full expression in his stage plays (later filmed), Rope and Gaslight. Many writers since have probed into the capital's lowlife, but probably nobody will ever capture so well the twilight tyranny of the London pub, and its denizens' unspeakable desperation. --Alan StewartReview:
"Hamilton was a marvellous novelist who's grossly neglected" (Doris Lessing The Times)
"Patrick Hamilton wrote about pubs better than any other novelist... The wonderful 1935 trilogy, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, is set in a pub off the Euston Road. Every detail is spot on" (Independent on Sunday)
"A complex study of failed hopes and disappointed love" (Independent on Sunday)
"Patrick Hamilton was a writer's writer.... Seen as touchstones by authors from J.B. Priestley to Iain Sinclair" (The Times)
"Hamilton writes about street life with an honesty and lyricism, an absence of sentimentality or fetish for squalor, that should make nearly every hard-boiled writer hang his or her head in shame" (Charles Taylor Salon)
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Book Description VINTAGE (RAND), 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110099479168
Book Description VINTAGE (RAND). PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0099479168 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.1036325