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The Good Companions

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  295 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Set in England during the 1920s, 'The Good Companions' follows the adventures, antics and disappointments of a troupe of thespians as they sing, dance, drink and squabble their way from theatre to theatre.
Hardcover, 605 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Great Northern Books (first published January 1st 1929)
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I found a 1986 copy of The Good Companions tucked in the "sad, abandoned books" closet in the common room of our dormitory. I was desperate for a novel that wouldn't depress me--for some reason, the books I grabbed on my way up to Boston were all intelligently and academically unhappy, a little rubbing and joyless, or otherwise just unsettling. This story filled a literary need I didn't know I had. Brilliant characterization, brilliant storytelling, characters developed quickly, deftly, danced a ...more
Timothy Hallinan
If you're thinking about reading this wonderful novel, you've got to be prepared for an extremely long period piece (written immediately after World War I)that's a little slow getting started, that's about the lives of Britain's long-forgotten music-hall troupes, and that's devoid of any really sensational plot developments. If that doesn't stop you, GET THIS BOOK.

It's one of my best reads of 2013 and maybe 2012, as well. Priestley introduces us to three discontented people -- a lonely unmarrie
Louise Spiegler
I re-read this book last summer and loved it just as much as the first time. It was first published in 1929 and I hope it's not out of print. It's a road book, which I love, and involves a cast of memorable characters all drawn together into one traveling theatrical company. It probably helps to be able to decipher Yorkshire and cockney accents, but once you can do that, it's as full of good things as a plum pudding (hmmm... full of plums?) I recently read in Private Battles (a selection of firs ...more
Harini Srinivasan
A delightful book, with lovable and memorable characters and lots of local colour. Follows the adventures of a troupe of music hall performers in what must be the 1920s, as they travel through small-town England. The diverse cast of characters is viewed mainly through the eyes of two 'outsiders' -- Jess Oakroyd, a working class middle-aged man from Yorkshire who has run away from home and unsympathetic wife; and Miss Trant, a middle aged lady who has come into a small fortune and decides to foll ...more
Anna Matsuyama
May 02, 2014 Anna Matsuyama marked it as let-s-add-all-books  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: Plum
I am at last reading The Good Companions. I love it. That's the sort of book I would like to write.
P.G. Wodehouse
I loved the way that Priestley drew you into this story and his portrayal of the Northern character. His descriptions of the various events which lead to the formation of the 'Good Companions' was wonderful and I couldn't put the book down. I now have to read more Priestley!
Christopher Newton
Maybe not great literature but I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book so much.
Robbie Leslie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy Durreson
I hadn't read this for a long time, but a chance mention reminded me that I had enjoyed my first read, so I sought it out with some qualms. Not all fondly-remembered books bear rereading, after all.

I was relieved to fall in love with this story again. It's a simple enough story - three misfits, a vicar's daughter facing genteel spinsterhood, a flamboyant schoolmaster, and a mill worker unfairly laid off and sick of his ungrateful family, all turn their backs on their lives and take off in searc
Peter Macinnis
May 06, 2013 Peter Macinnis rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: humans
Recommended to Peter by: my parents
I enjoyed this so much as a teenager (that's half a century ago, near enough for government work) that I have just bought it for Kindle so I can read it again on my travels.

A mixed group of English "characters" go on the halls, having adventures of a gentle kind in the English countryside. They formed what was called, I think, a concert party. It's a gentle, joyful book.

I need to read it again, because I can't recall if they ever got the Shuddersford (as Susie called it). Music halls interest me
This is a delightful book, nicely written with humour and a pleasant, quirky cast and story. It was first published in 1929, written a few years earlier and became the bestseller of the depression.
It is the story of a travelling theatre group, but it starts with an ordinary working man being laid off from his work at a Yorkshire woolen mill, a gentlewoman selling up and moving out, and a schoolmaster getting the sack. In this book their misfortunes are the impetus for a new life. It brings toget
Roger Owen
Read this book for "O" level, still love it. Probably one of the most evocative books I have read to date. Miss Trotters first drive in the countryside made me want to go out and drive, hadn't passed my test at the time though!
I bought a trade paperback of this book in May of 1987 when I was about to have our first baby. I brought it to the hospital with me, along with a couple of thrillers, and ended up reading that book like my salvation would result from reading it. The style is a little old fashioned, it is by no means a book with non-stop action, laughs anf thrills -- it is a lovely look at a long-ago time with interesting people tying to make fulfilling lives for themselves through a traveling theater troupe. I ...more
Paul Servini
The tale of three disparate people at turning points in their life and how they end up in a performing troupe. What follows is a light-hearted look at the ups and downs of a performing life. It succeeds because of the wonderful way Priestley portrays each of these characters and weaves them together into a convincing whole. Some may not like the Deux ex Machina way things turn out for the best in the end, but as I was really rooting for these people it didn't disturb me.
Shu Chadwick
One of my top ten all time favourite books -- the story of a rag-tag Concert Party (theatrical variety show) travelling the UK in the late 1920s. Simply wonderful -- filled with humanity, humour, pathos and other delights. My reading group -- which is very close to my heart and has been going for nearly 30 years -- read this book 20+ years ago and adopted the name The Good Companions. Re-reading it for the umpteenth time.
I FOUND IT! I read this book back in Scotland, or maybe even before during university and I could never recall what it was or who it was by, except the fact that it was about a theater group in England. And now because of a Flavorwire article about Roald Dahl's Matilda and the books she read, I know what it was. Mystery solved.
Clive Walker
This is one of the funniest, most heart warming stories that you will ever read. It gallops along at great pace. The characters are as three dimensional as any Dicken's has ever created and you'll just love them. Read this book now1 You won't be sorry you did.
Charisa Flaherty
I had a love/hate relationship with this book. Some of it was really interesting and well written and I really enjoyed and then other parts were totally the opposite and I kept putting it down because I just didn't care.
This has to be one of my favorite books. Good story, great characters, humour, good descriptive passages. It's a book that I go back to over and over again. The last time I read it was on Kindle, in India.
Read it 30 years ago and loved it. Re-read it this summer because I was going to be cycling through a number of places it mentioned and I wanted a good book to stuff in my bag. I loved it even more.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Frankham
A great picaresque novel (1929) of english characters, high and low, forming a travelling concert party.
Delightful - in the most sincere sense of the word. Reading it was pure delight.
Mary Jo
I stayed interested for all 640 pages. That statement pretty much sums it up.
A classic book of a bygone era. Superbly written with wonderful characters.
1998, Mar. 15 (at least third reading)
2000, July 3 " " fourth "
So far I love it. Lovely old-fashioned writing style, interesting characters.
William Neave
Apr 30, 2008 William Neave is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Some seriously enjoyable moments with some genuine escapism.
Jan 26, 2008 Becca marked it as in-the-stacks-around-the-house  ·  review of another edition
I have the 1929 hardcover.
I have the 1929 hardcover.
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John Boynton Priestley, the son of a schoolmaster, was born in Bradford in September 1894, and after schooling he worked for a time in the local wool trade. Following the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, Priestley joined the British Army, and was sent to France --in 1915 taking part in the Battle of Loos. After being wounded in 1917 Priestley returned to England for six months; then, after going ...more
More about J.B. Priestley...

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