Posts Tagged With: 1930s

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Title: Rules of Civility
Author: Amor Towles
ISBN: 978-1444708875
Publisher: Sceptre
First Published: January 2012
No. of pages: 352

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis (from Fantastic Fiction):
Set during the hazy, enchanting, and martini-filled world of New York City circa 1938, Rules of Civility follows three friends–Katey, Eve, and Tinker–from their chance meeting at a jazz club on New Year’s Eve through a year of enlightening and occasionally tragic adventures. Tinker orbits in the world of the wealthy; Katey and Eve stretch their few dollars out each evening on the town. While all three are complex characters, Katey is the story’s shining star. She is a fully realized heroine, unique in her strong sense of self amidst her life’s continual fluctuations. Towles’ writing also paints an inviting picture of New York City, without forgetting its sharp edges. Reminiscent of Fitzgerald, Rules of Civility is full of delicious sentences you can sit back and savor (most appropriately with a martini or two).

Review:
This is what chick-lit would be like if it were written exclusively by men. No, I don’t mean lad-lit; that’s a completely different animal – this is more like chick-lit with all the fluff removed. There is absolutely nothing frothy about Rules of Civility but there is still the lightness and ease of reading without any of the brashness you might expect from a man writing from a female point of view.

In fact, there is a sense of honesty about the character of Katie Kontent (Kontent like the state of being, not Kontent like something in a box) that is quite refreshing and delightful. The story from Katie‚Äôs point of view has a gentle flow that carries the reader forward at a steady pace, which is why it’s such a jolt when you come to a section told from Tinker’s point of view – you suddenly feel like you’ve run aground on a sand bank for a while till Katie takes the rudder and you’re able to push off again.

There are no wildly exciting escapades here, just a subtle meandering as the characters meet and mingle, crossing the boundaries of their respective social circles and having their lives affected by those interactions. There is no sense of urgency, and no hurry to get from one moment to the next – you just drift.

And that, I think is the main problem. The characters feel like they are in want of just a little more plot. There is growth – the characters develop and learn about themselves and each other, but there is little real action. That said, there is something quite pleasant about just sitting back and enjoying the ride as you glide from the first page to the last.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Love on the Dole by Walter Greenwood

This was on my reading list for university, and I am glad I picked it.

Synopsis:

In Hanky Park, near Salford, Harry and Sally Hardcastle grow up in a society preoccupied with grinding poverty, exploited by bookies and pawnbroker, bullied by petty officials and living in constant fear of the dole queue and the Means Test. His love affair with a local girl ends in a shotgun marriage, and, disowned by his family, Harry is tempted by crime. Sally, meanwhile, falls in love with Larry Meath, a self-educated Marxist. But Larry is a sick man and there are other more powerful rivals for her affection. The definitive deception of a northern town in the midst of the thirties’ depression. Walter Greenwood’s “Love on the Dole” was the first novel to be set against a background of mass unemployment and was instantly recognised as a classic when it was first published in 1933. Raw, violent and powerful, it was a cry of outrage that stirred the national conscience in the same way as the Jarrow march.

This is a very graphic look at life in the Industrial North in the 1930s. This was a time where Britain was suffering in the Depression with unemployment, the dole and Means Testing, poverty, poor living conditions and very little money. Love on the Dole is a great depiction of this; written in the ’30s, Greenwood holds nothing back. We see unemployment, the new role of women, leisure activities, poverty, humiliation and love. This has set an accurate image in my mind of the 1930s.

I liked the character of Sally, she was a headstrong, independent girl who knew what she wanted, which was a new identity for women. She was pursued by many men, two of whom I despised! This pleases me because it means I made a strong connection with the book.

Harry on the other hand, he annoyed me some what. He sulked and whinged a lot, however this is probably quite an accurate portrayal of the effect the Depression had on ordinary people.

I enjoyed this novel. It was a good story as well as an excellent historical source.

7/10

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