It’s time for another readalong! I thought I’d give you some advance notice to see if you want to join Lizzy Siddal and me as we read The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton – I spotted that she had recently got it, and I’ve been meaning to read it for a month or two: it seemed a good idea to read it together. We plan to post our thoughts sometime in the first week of June, or thereabouts – but I am already about a third of the way through it, and it is *brilliant*.
Putting my most persuasive face on, I’ll just say that it’s a 1940s novel about Miss Roach, bombed out of her London house and forced to live in an unpleasant boarding house in Thames Lockdon. The prose is exquisite, and Hamilton’s precision is incredible. Somehow it is both bleak and incredibly funny. Here’s an excerpt to draw you in….
As she let herself in by the front door she could in the same way see the Rosamund Tea Rooms – the somewhat narrow, three-storied, red-brick house, wedged in between a half-hearted toy-shop on one side, and an antique-shop on the other. She saw its bow-window on the ground floor, jutting out obtrusively on to the pavement; and above this, beneath the first-floor windows, the oblong black wooden board with faded gilt letters running its length – “The Rosamund Tea Rooms”. But now, since the war, it was the Rosamund Tea Rooms no more – merely, if anything, “Mrs. Payne’s”. Mrs. Payne would have taken the sign down had not the golden letters been far too blistered and faded for anyone in his right mind to imagine that if he entered he would be likely to get tea. All the same, a few stray people in summer, probably driven slightly mad by the heat, did still enter with that idea in mind, and quietly had their error made clear to them.
I love it. I think it was the word ‘half-hearted’ that made me realise I’d love Hamilton – so few authors would have chosen that word, there, and it conjures up such an image.
Right! If that has spurred you on, grab a copy and get readin’ any time between now and June. No strict time span or anything – but I think this could definitely be a gem.