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Loving / Living / Party Going

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  543 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
Henry Green explored class distinctions through the medium of love. This volume brings together three of his novels contrasting the lives of servants and masters (Loving); workers and owners, set in a Birmingham iron foundry (Living); and the different lives of the wealthy and the ordinary, (Party Going).
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 528 pages
Published February 1st 1993 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published February 10th 1978)
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Jan 23, 2008 Alan rated it it was amazing
Three great novels. Poetic, mysterious, true. Not for everyone though as the style (different in each one) can be difficult. This piece of description from 'Loving' has stayed with me for many years:

(The saddleroom)was a place from which light was almost excluded now by cobwebs across its two windows and into which, with the door ajar, the shafted sun lay in a lengthened arch of blazing sovereigns. Over a corn bin on which he had packed last autumn's ferns lay Paddy snoring between these windows
Dec 24, 2007 Tisa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
I really loved Concluding,and I'm enjoying the first novel in this collected three, Loving, even more, for its "life below stairs" perspective. Green is a master of a kind of narrative strategy that excises all the fluff and chatter and lets the dialogue do the work, like a play, without sacrificing a sense of interior for the characters, in that uncanny way with speech and gesture that playwrights have. His narrators cannot enter into the body, but what is said by our guide, in conjunction with ...more
Oct 03, 2011 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Henry Green is (like Dawn Powell) one of those famously forgotten writers, whose oeuvre is brought back into print every 15 years or so, with dust jacket encomia from writers who have achieved more sustained renown.
"Loving", from 1945, has a kind of "upstairs/downstairs" structure in which the doings and conversation of the servants and the gentry on an Anglo-Irish estate are contrasted. The former are baudier but ultimately probably more conventionally moral than their masters - not sure if Gre
Jun 19, 2008 Trena rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Trena by: book club
This book is allegedly one of the top 100 books of the century. It is hideously terrible and completely unreadable. It is basically a transcript of complete mundanities. I can see how, perhaps, it was innovative when it was written (but surely he wasn't the first to write about the "downstairs" of a great house), but it is ungodly awful. In my opinion, this is an Emperor's New Clothes kind of book. It can't possibly be as stupid and pointless as it seems, smart people say it's awesome, and so ev ...more
Mar 22, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it
Well, just Loving but I liked it lot and plan to read the other two, just not right away. Good for folks who like their modernist lit with a bit of Downton Abbey. I liked the subtle humor.
Mar 15, 2016 Robert rated it really liked it
Living, Henry Green's first novel, published in 1929 when he was twenty-four, is wisely and wonderfully written in a minor key about minor characters who demand major attention through their flawed, stumbling, enduring humanity.

The setting is Birmingham, England, where men work at a foundry that is foundering. The owner is about to die, but not yet, and the son is about to take over, but not yet. Meanwhile the workers sing and chatter to one another, gossip and comment,and have womenfolk and chi
Loving: Four Stars
Living: Three Stars
Party Going: Three and a Half Stars

Each of these three novels follows multiple characters representing different social strata: the servants and the served in an Irish country house during WWII (Loving), generations of steel foundry workers and owners in Birmingham (Living), and wealthy travelers stuck in a train station hotel (Party Going). The stories can be a little difficult to follow at first: in each, characters are referred to by several names, the nar
Aug 17, 2012 Korri rated it liked it
Recommended to Korri by: Martin
Read Loving on the bus to Manhattan and on Roosevelt Island Thursday 23 August 2012. Green does a wonderful job of letting the characters speak for themselves with minimal third-person omniscent narration. It reminds me of a stageplay in that the dialogue reveals so much about the characters and their secrets, longings, and motivations. It makes the tale more life-like & vivid.

Party Going has been my handbag book since August. Like Loving it focused on class and status through the lens of lo
Dec 28, 2013 Federico rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Only read "Loving".
A very boring and hard read for me. Why on earth this house has so many servants? what do they do all day long? why does the author let them talk incessantly in their annoying jargon? Dear author, please interrupt them, please do something to convince me I should care. Because I really don't care about all those names: yes names, just names, as they don't come alive as real characters to me.
We are promised that the arrival of the kids will bring some change, but seriously, I d
May 23, 2011 Alyssa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As this edition is 3 novels in one book it is hard for me to review all of it despite having read the whole thing. Henry Green's writing is difficult and slow going, but his characters are fascinating, if confusing. This probably explains why his novels have recently come into the favor of literary critics. This collection of 3 novels gave a very interesting view of the early to mid 20th century and allowed for exploration of the different social classes during this time. While I enjoyed reading ...more
Loving by Henry Green is about the goings-on between the servants and masters in a castle in Ireland during WWII. It's a pretty simple tale, but there isn't much plot. There's a sort of love triangle between the butler, Charlie, his "man" (aka assistant) Albert, and a chamber maid, Edith, a missing ring, fear of the I.R.A., a drunken cook, an affair between the master's (Mrs. Tennant) daughter-in-law and Capt. Davenport while Mr. Jack (Mrs. Tennant's son) is off doing the army thing... it's more ...more
Sep 03, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
The 3 best novels by this criminally neglected writer, all in one handy omnibus. If you mesh with his unique style, there are 5 later novels to enjoy and his great first novel, Blindness. If you really catch Green fever (and I really think you should), read his autobiographical Pack My Bag, or Jeremy Treglown's biography/critical study, Romancing. His life was as interesting as his fictional worlds. Green belongs right up in the pantheon with that great generation of British writers that came of ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Jeni rated it really liked it
this is one of those "in it to win it" books that I begin, and gradually realize I'm going to be putting in some thankless work...but I'm NOT giving up... For the uninitiated, Henry Green is a many splendored thing.. just make sure to choose wisely. He changes voice on a dime..
Apr 11, 2009 Matt rated it it was amazing
"Intensely original" is a perfect way to describe these novels. I also like the word "dazzling" for the way some of the sentences read. The lovliness of some of them actually made me gasp. I do not recall reading anything else quite like this.
Jul 23, 2007 Paige rated it really liked it
I found Living difficult, but Loving a dream.
May 16, 2007 Kate rated it liked it
"Her voice was thick with love. She shut the door."
Tom Baker
May 07, 2017 Tom Baker rated it really liked it
I must say that it took awhile to read this volume. I am glad that I did though. Henry Green's voice for hired house staff, factory workers and the idle rich, all rings true. He must have been sensitively receptive to those he had contact with, especially coming from wealth himself. His prose is beautifully descriptive and the dialogue is right on.
John Addiego
May 09, 2017 John Addiego rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
There is some brilliant writing here, some wonderful insights and dialogue, but it's not one I'd readily recommend. There doesn't seem to be any reason to care for these rich, idle, vacuous characters. That said, reading Green is a worthwhile experience in the effect of language. I can see how he may have influenced later writers.
Dec 12, 2011 Dwight added it
My review

I finished Loving by Henry Green yesterday and my opinion on it seems to change each time I think about it. I enjoyed the novel but at the same time I got the feeling I was being had or duped. The abrupt, fairy-tale ending only added to that feeling. At the same time, though, I couldn’t help laughing at the absurdity in the story, which would make the ending a perfect fit.

I’ll mention the links post on Henry Green and Loving since it contains several good descriptions of Green’s style
Apr 10, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: PBS fans, readers of English fiction
Recommended to Richard by: numerous sources
This refers only to LOVING. I have wanted to read Henry Green for a long time but have only had an autobiography until just recently when I bought this volume.

I thoroughly enjoyed this somewhat spicy and very good-humored view of the "downstairs" segment of UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS and DOWNTON ABBEY without the pretensions. This story is set in a Big House in Ireland at the beginning of WWII; there is reference to the fine appointments of the house, including an indoor "dairy" that might remind one
Mar 28, 2014 Katy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Oh I do hate to do this. Henry Green is hailed by what seems like his entire generation of writers and many more since, was best pals with Diana Mitford (my problematic fav), and gave this fantastically enigmatic interview with the Paris Review in 1958, discussing his 'crabwise approach' to storytelling and how his dialogue style emulates the way 'people strike sparks off each other'. I tracked this book down in my local second-hand shop, scuttled home with it, and settled down ready to love it. ...more
Nov 27, 2015 Miriam rated it it was ok
Like a season of Downton Abbey in which the major plot lines are a lost and found ring, an extramarital affair, the fate of some peacocks, a visiting may or may not be bastard child, and a war on (WWII). Same close quarters, gossip, and conniving, but with less humor and no likable characters. It's practically all dialogue, which is not a criticism, just the truth. There's very little character development and little scenery. And the way people talk to each other obfuscates as much as it reveals ...more
Lisa Houlihan
Aug 02, 2008 Lisa Houlihan marked it as to-read
Of this volume, I read only Loving, which is tremendous. The other two titles are not on any of my blasted lists but if I can get through my next two bookclub books before this is due, I'll happily read Living and Party-Going as well.

It requires a lot of attention. It's told mostly in dialogue, and has dialogue tags, but if you don't pay attention to who said what how and to whom, all the time, you miss the tension and undercurrents. I went back and reread and rechecked a few times. Also, the s
Steven Clark
Oct 26, 2016 Steven Clark rated it it was ok
I gave this book a chance because a former professor of mine is writing a literary study of Green, so I wanted to understand his oeuvre. I wasn't drawn into the book. As a lot of Goodreads reviewers said, I was put off by the lack of punctuation and confused over the name changes (All those Arthurs!) It wasn't exactly hard to follow, but the reading of it was, to me, monotonous. No chapter breaks or changes, no real sense of where you're going, and just dialogue.
Green reminds me of Sterne and Th
Feb 15, 2008 Josh rated it really liked it
Of the three novels in this volume (which I bought on the strongest recommendation from a friend), I've read so far only the last one, Party-Going and part of the first one, Living.

Party-Going is a tremendous short novel, written in "real-time," it seems, the events of the novel unfolding during the two or three hours of a massive train delay caused by London fog. (The time is the 1930s.) I say "real time" because it seems that you could read the book in exactly as much time as elapses in the c
Thomas Armstrong
May 27, 2014 Thomas Armstrong rated it really liked it
I got this book only to read Loving, which I wanted to read because it was on the Modern Library's list of the 100 best novels of the twentieth century (I'm a sucker for book lists!) I had a hard time getting into it initially because I kept wondering where the plot was going. Then after maybe sixty pages I went back and read John Updike's introduction and learned that the narrative wasn't supposed to be going anywhere. I found out that the book was actually about life's moments reflected agains ...more
Jul 15, 2012 SarahC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have only completed the story "Loving" within this collection. These stories actually have more the pace and length of novellas. I was glad to be introduced to Henry Green with his odd, detached, often grim voice. His writing has a unique energy, which often bursts forth during subdued passages of the story. Much of "Loving" is told from the perspective of the "downstairs" inhabitants of an Anglo-Irish estate during World War II. Green is a writer who does not lamely explain things to the read ...more
Darran Mclaughlin
A little known, interesting and original writer. He has some things in common with Ronald Firbank, Ivy Compton-Burnett and Evelyn Waugh, but he is a very distinctive and original writer. His novels are written primarily in dialogue, and he is wonderful at writing in diferrent voices and dialects. He also writes about working class life with empathy and understanding, which makes him anomalous among Modernist writers and English novelists of the period. It is difficult to tell who his literary in ...more
L.P. Fergusson
Sep 17, 2012 L.P. Fergusson rated it really liked it
I understand many of the reviewers who found Henry Green difficult but was irritated by Sebastian Faulks attitude in his introduction that 'Party Going, though it has proved a most fertile ground for critics and theorists of narrative, is the one that is most likely to be problematic to the non-academic reader' as if an 'ordinary' reader hasn't the application or intelligence to get through these three volumes.

Yes - they are hard work on one level, but that's only because they break modern conve
Jul 30, 2009 Alison rated it really liked it
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Henry Green was the nom de plume of Henry Vincent Yorke.

Green was born near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, into an educated family with successful business interests. His father Vincent Wodehouse Yorke, the son of John Reginald Yorke and Sophia Matilda de Tuyll de Serooskerken, was a wealthy landowner and industrialist in Birmingham. His mother, Hon. Maud Evelyn Wyndham, was daughter of the second B
More about Henry Green...

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