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Review: Hangover Square, by Patrick Hamilton

George Harvey Bone has a complicated mental disorder: he has schizophrenia, in which he has a split personality, which comes over him at unexpected times. George is deeply involved with the “Hangover Square” set of Earl’s Court, London, where he’s in love with the beautiful but dangerous Netta Longdon, who treats him despicably. Her whole set, George included, spend their days in idle dissipation, drinking and carousing all the time, as Europe teeters on the brink of the Second World War. But George has one mission: to kill Netta and her friend Peter.

What’s so wonderful about this book is that Patrick Hamilton gets into George’s head wonderfully, and he transitions back and forth between George’s “moods” easily. Every time that George slides into his second personality, he finds himself forgetting his mission. The tension in this thriller (a word I ate to use because it conjures to my mind commercial fiction) arises from this: will he or won’t he commit murder? Therefore, the ending of this book came as a complete, shocking surprise to me. Its easy to see why so many authors envy Hamilton’s writing ability; this novel is a nearly perfect expose of lower-class London at the end of the 1930s and the effect of mental instability on one’s actions. The travesty about this book is that it’s poorly edited. Why, oh why isn’t this book on more required reading lists?

Comments

Jaimie said…
This sounds like a really good book. Getting inside a schizophrenics head is no easy task, I would think. Another one for the wishlist!
Literary Feline said…
I will have to check this one out. I admit that I tend to get a little leery when I see schizophrenia and split personality in the same sentence together, considering they are two different disorders.
Matt said…
I have never heard of the book nor the author. I think the premise about schizophrenia would be a winner if it's well-managed. I'll include this one for the read-a-thon. Lovely review! :)
Michelle said…
Ooh. Loved your review. Hadn't heard of the title or the author and had no idea it was on the 1001 list, but I'll have a look for it now that I have heard of it!

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