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Scenes from Provincial Life and Scenes from Metropolitan Life

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  45 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
Scenes from Provincial Life was first published in 1950, when Joe Lunn was one of the first breed of ordinary male anti-hero protagonists to appear in English fiction. Joe's exploits and ordinariness, as he tries to avoid his mistress Myrtle's attempts to trap him into marriage, brilliantly poke fun at what were, and often remain, the taboo subjects of sex and class.
Paperback, 432 pages
Published November 1st 1984 by Avon Books (first published 1950)
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Uncle
Jul 14, 2013 Uncle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Critics tend to place William Cooper's Scenes from Provincial Life in the context of the "Angry Young Man" movement of English writers. This group tended to write novels about antiheroes, sensitive yet damaged young men, in the context of post-war Britain, in all its cramped dreariness. These young male characters are often hard to like as individuals, but there is something very human and compelling about how these louts and cads struggle against a greater society of such soul-crushing joylessn ...more
Leonie
Jan 16, 2015 Leonie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book from the fifties about a youngish man in 1939 who doesn't want to marry his girlfriend. It's supposed to be the forerunner of anti-heroes and angry young men, but, while I can see that it's quite sexually frank for it's time, especially given that it's actually about 1939 rather than the fifties, I imagine it's much more mellow and pleasant than a lot of those other books. Nick Hornby introduces this and says it influenced him, and I can certainly see it. Joe has a bisexual friend whose lov ...more
Gareth Evans
I had been looking for Scenes from Provincial Life for some time having heard part of the radio adaptation (although I seem to have partially confused it with another adaptation at the same time as I expected part of this book to be set in a newspaper office - nevertheless Myrtle, Joe and their cottage are there). This edition contains both Scenes from Provincial Life and Scenes from Married Life. The former is often said to be a precursor for the anti-hero books of the 1950s such a Lucky Jim an ...more
Stephanie Patterson
Dec 30, 2012 Stephanie Patterson rated it really liked it
I decided to read Scenes of Provincial Life because it cropped up in some discussion of modern British fiction and I had never heard of it. It concerns the life of Joe Lunn who teaches at a boy’s school. He spends much of the novel sleeping with his girlfriend Myrtle but also evading any suggestions of marriage. He has written a few novels and as WWII heats up wants to leave Britain to pursue life in the United States. When he’s not working or alternately seducing and fending off his girlfriend ...more
Leslie
An interesting precursor for books like Lucky Jim and Room at the Top, less laugh-out-loud than the former and less misogynistic and concerned with class than the latter. It was considered rather shocking when it came out in 1950, mostly because the narrator and his best friend are in complicated nonmarital sexual relationships, one with a young woman he doesn't want to marry and the other with a young man. I can see how this fact, plus a few other details, would have been rather a surprise at t ...more
David
Oct 18, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's nothing very profound about this book, but it paints an interesting pictures of life in 1950's Britain - an era that is now gone for ever. The book is very easy to read and full of characters that seem very real. This edition also includes the shorter "Scenes from Married Life", which I read thinking all the time that something dramatic (and probably bad) would happen. I won't spoil your enjoyment by telling you if it did happen.
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H.S. Hoff (William Cooper) was an English novelist, born in Crewe. After graduating from Christ's College, Cambridge in 1933 he became a science teacher in Leicester, an experience on which he seems to have drawn for his novel, Scenes from Provincial Life. Hoff served in the Royal Air Force in World War II, and later became a civil servant, associating closely with C. P. Snow, who appears in light ...more
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