As in his highly praised novels (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning), Sillitoe sets this novella in working-class Nottingham, in England's textile-manufacturing Midlands, lyrically evoking a grim and improverished landscape. Peter Granby, 18, is like a fine English oak tree trying to grow on a dungheap. When Peter's sickly mother dies, he moves in with his grandmother, whose paramour, Len, is a nasty old bully with a penchant for young women. Peter, an inarticulate youth, works as a factory laborer, and, one day, when an old woman falls on the pavement, he instinctively rushes out to the street to help her. After the woman dies, her wealthy daughter Eileen Farnsfield gives Peter a reward and invites him to call on her if he ever needs help. Peter derisively dismisses the idea, but soon circumstances force him to swallow his pride and accept a job as Mrs. Farnsfield's handyman-chauffeur. His entire outlook changes, as well as his hopes for the future. But he is out of his depth with the widow Eileen and pays a bitter price for his stroke of luck. One of the entries in the publisher's short novel series, this is a poetic tale, almost Russian in its tragic inevitability.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
When 18-year-old Peter Granby finds himself lying on a heap of rubble after losing his mother, his home, and a fight, he turns to wealthy widow Eileen Farnsfield, whose mother he had comforted as she lay dying on the sidewalk outside the factory where he works. Eileen gives him a job as caretaker of her seaside cottages, and their relationship takes its predictable course. Yet he is left wondering, "Where was the rest of it?" In the aftermath of the novel's violent climax, Peter's horizon has cleared of the dreams that clouded his vision. Sillitoe's accomplishment is to go beyond the stereotypes of proletarian youth and sex-starved middle-aged woman by teaching the former sympathy and teaching us sympathy for the latter. The lesson that society is destiny is taught with sorrow rather than bitterness. Hugh M. Crane, Cambridge P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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