Loving
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Loving

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  1,654 ratings  ·  95 reviews
One of his most admired works, Loving describes life above and below stairs in an Irish country house during the Second World War. In the absence of their employers the Tennants, the servants enact their own battles and conflict amid rumours about the war in Europe, invading one another's provinces of authority to create an anarchic environment of self-seeking behaviour, p...more
Paperback, 206 pages
Published May 30th 2001 by Random House of Canada (first published 1945)
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Community Reviews

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Paul
This is the first Henry Green I have read. It is quite a claustrophobic novel; Updike called Green the “saint of the mundane” and indeed, very little of any significance actually happens. It has been compared to Gosford Park and there are some surface similarities (but rather less action). Loving is set in a rambling country house in Ireland during the early years of the Second World War. The Tennant family move between their Irish country seat and their homes in England (primarily London). The...more
Douglas Dalrymple
‘Loving’ reads like ‘Gosford Park’ (the Altman film) but without the plot, or any plot at all. Green has been called “a writer’s writer’s writer” and praised to kingdom come by everyone that counts. And yes, his dialogue is masterful and there are real moments of light in his prose. His cinematic movement from scene to scene is unusual (one character will look out a window at two others in the distance and the narrative immediately moves to them without a break). Strange too, his habit of this-i...more
Edward
Another book I wouldn’t have read without a book group impetus, but worth reading. Written in 1945 well before the hugely popular tv series, UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS, and its equally popular successor, DOWNTON ABBEY, it made me think of the dark side of those two series. It, too, has the comings and goings of both the “downstairs” staff and the "upstairs” owners.

In Green’s version, the manor house, Kinalty Castle, is located in Ireland, owned and staffed almost entirely by British who, top to botto...more
Mary
I'd never heard of Henry Green or this novel until I ran across it on the list of the top 100 novels in English of the 20th century as chosen by the Modern Library's editorial board. (Re: the reader's list? Step away from the Ayn Rand -- she's a crazy lady!) I decided a few years ago that I was going to try and read all 100. This one obviously deserves to on be the list. It's a story about English people living in a mansion in Ireland during World War II. Most of the story is about the servants'...more
Elizabeth Urello
Henry Green’s most beloved novel focuses on the complicated relationships between the servants of an Irish country house during World War II. At the time of the novel, Ireland is neutral territory, remote from the escalating conflict and mostly abandoned by the English gentry who own homes there. The servants are left alone with their employers’ children, and thus free, they fight, love, ally, steal and work.

Green is a master at painting beautiful pastoral settings and then focusing on the myria...more
Tony
59. LOVING. (1945; U.S. 1949). Henry Green. **.
As with most other inveterate readers, I am always on the lookout for new (different) authors that I’ve missed. When playing on Google, I came across a list of the 100 Best Novels put together by Modern Library. Looking through this list, I came across this book. I had never heard of either the title or the author, and got a copy from our library system. It was a Penguin, with an introduction by John Updike. I’m always suspicious of books from the...more
K.D. Absolutely
I read this yesterday starting from my flight in Columbus, Ohio to Los Angeles via Memphis. I began reading page 1 while in the toilet in the morning at 5:00 a.m. and finished while waiting for my nephew in LAX at around 2:00 p.m. I will always remember this book that I tried to understand while standing and waiting for him.

Once again, I had a bit of trouble understanding the British-specific terms, phases and stuff. However, the beauty of this novel is in the interaction of the characters who...more
Sylvester
Another exploration of the master/servant relationship, this time in Ireland during the war. I love this genre, so many great books and films have been created about it - "Upstairs, Downstairs", "Gosford Park", "Downton Abbey" to name a few. "Loving" is a contrast of the two levels of society in love. Light literature. The opposite of Dostoyevsky, if you will. I'm probably more of a medium to heavy-weight lit girl, but I did like this book and will be reading "Living" and "Party Going" next.
Charlie
I have never taken so long to finish such a short book. I blame myself for not appreciating the humor, dialogue, or story. During the three months it took for me to finish this 200 page book, I never grew to know, like or care about the characters. If you are looking to experience what it is like as a servant in war time Ireland watch Downton Abby.

All and all, not Loving it.
W.B.
This would make my top twenty list of the best novels written in the 20th century. A very spooky novel. Think of how Aeschylus's strange play with the 20th century almost Beckettian demarche (in which everything happens somewhere else), The Persians, works. This novel uses a comparable strategy. So subtle. So smart. So memorable. Green is a largely unacknowledged master.
Elizabeth
It took a while but I finally got into it. It was hard for me because there were so many colloquialisms. In addition, I couldn't figure out who was speaking until well into the book. But in the end I could see the merit. This is not a plot driven novel nor are there intriguing characters like Downton Abbey. It reveals the life of English staff at an Irish house at the time of the war and how their attitudes toward toward the neutral Irish are. But you do get the picture and a more realistic pict...more
Grant Faulkner
It’s always fascinating to read a book and be at odds with other critics. The questions span from “Am I simply the wrong reader for this book?” to “Do I have too many kids and soccer games going on to thoughtfully assess this book?” to “Did these critics have too many damn kids and activities to decently evaluate the book?”

Elizabeth Bowen said that Henry Green’s novels “reproduce, as few English novels do, the actual sensations of living.”

W.H. Auden called him the finest living English novelist....more
Daryl
This is one of those "great books of the 20th century" that makes me wonder how it ever got picked. The book jacket claims it "brilliantly contrasts the lives of servants and masters in an Irish castle during World War II." The book, however, is almost totally devoted to the servants. I see three problems with this book: 1)the plot, or lack thereof. It's one of those books where nothing happens. Not necessarily a bad thing, if the characters and dialogue are interesting. They're not. There's a l...more
Elizabeth
This is a must-read and I owe it to that great James Wood for pointing me to it (in a lecture and an essay [In The Irresponsible Self...]). Green another of the British Modernists who makes me wonder how it is that I never knew. Do they teach him in America? Wood acts like everybody knows him. Green's style, like Joyce's, Forster's and Virginia Woolf's, is intensely subjective and tricky with point of view shifts and heightened interiority, but takes you off guard due to the ostensible linearity...more
Maida
Thank.God.It's.Over…. The author's lack of regard for punctuation may be deemed by some as "modernist," but in my opinion, it's just bad writing. I've read over 90% of the novels on Modern Library's list of the Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century, & this novel ranks among the worst…. I was initially intrigued by the novel's setting-- an Irish castle inhabited by a wealthy British family & its servants. The struggle for power among the Castle's ranks & the anarchy that ensues-- set aga...more
Aisling
This is the first Henry Green book I've read.
Set in a country house in Ireland as WW11 was taking place elsewhere in Europe it centres primarly on the "down stairs" staff and their interractions. It is a slow read and I found the style of writing quite difficult to engage with. The lady of the manor Mrs Tennants insists on calling all footmen by the name of Arthur and we are told "as every footman from the first had been called, whose name had really been Arthur" ... there are three different ch...more
Jenny McPhee
A far inferior Evelyn Waugh? I didn't really get this book at all. I kept wishing to know more about the English landed gentry in Ireland during World War II, but though Green hints at the tensions he never develops. He also suggests a lesbian relationship between two of the maids but sadly never develops either. Otherwise the characters are very slim and the portrait of the servants really rather condescending.
Alan
Henry Green is perhaps my favourite author - his stuff is strange and beautiful, he adopts very odd styles (this one for instance lacks definite articles). Part of his fascination for me maybe that he was born in the same town I come from (Tewkesbury, UK) and wrote about the place I now live (Birmingham UK) in one of his novels (Living). I'm going to add more later...
Chris
Apr 05, 2014 Chris marked it as failed-the-first-time
Is it telling that I gave this book up for one written in an invented primitive dialect which I found far easier to follow? "Loving" was pretty delightful in the rare moments when I could figure out what was going on.

It's likely I failed this book, and not the other way round. I look forward to trying again sometime in my mid-to-late thirties.
Amanda
I love Irish accents but I had my fill of reading them when I was briefly obsessed with DH Lawrence. I couldn't give this one more than 50 pages of a chance.
Rick Seery
Super aesthetic despite being ninety percent (expertly rendered) dialogue. Updike called Green the master of the implied narrative - and there is much in the manner of delicious ambiguity and menacing suggestion. The comparisons to Robert Altman's Gosford Park are apt; though this is Gosford Park as directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Odd that a novel would encourage such strong comparisons with edgy visual artists, but Green seems to float and drift where he feels like with the action - the w...more
Steven
Fucking great book, funny and sad and who writes dialogue like Green, people spark off each other like and that'not what I meant that's not it all....
A.J. Ashworth
With it being set in the 1940s I thought I might struggle to get into this book (especially as I know of others who have struggled with it). However, I found I got into it very quickly and found it a quick and engaging read. There are a few really beautiful images in this that I know will stay with me for a long time. I won't ruin the surprise for those who haven't read it by saying what these are. Green is such a genuinely arresting and original writer that I would love to read more. Nothing mu...more
Susan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ryan
I really didn't like this book. I started reading it because it is on TIME magazine's all-TIME 100 list. This list has helped me discover some really good books, and I figured that this one would be as good as the others. I was wrong.

Loving's worst problem is that it is boring and it is aimless. Barely anything happens in this book. After I read the first 15 pages, I fell asleep. The next day I read another 15 pages at night and it even managed to overcome my insomnia and make me fall asleep ag...more
Lisa
Wikipedia tells me that Time magazine included Loving in its 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005, and it is easy to see why: this gentle satire of life upstairs and downstairs is rich with meaning and very entertaining to read.

The story takes place in one of those Big Irish Houses so often depicted in William Trevor’s fiction. Loving was first published in 1945 during the war and one of the most interesting motifs is the way Green quietly contrasts the petty wartime discomforts of...more
Callie
Henry Green's prose style is strange and beautiful. He is writing about servants in an Irish manor house owned by an English family (most of the servants are English, too, and are quite prejudiced against the Irish). This novel takes place during World War II. None of the servants are particularly likeable, in my opinion, but they are well-drawn. Something sly about this book, it's understated but masterful. Not showy, if you know what I mean.

I'm not sure what Henry Green's agenda was in writin...more
Veronica
Mar 05, 2012 Veronica rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Veronica by: Modern Library's 100 Best Novels
Having never heard of Henry Green’s Loving, I had no notion of its plot and went into it blind. I was rewarded with a witty tale and a bird’s eye view of the life of London servants, living in Ireland during WWII.

One of the book’s central character, Charley Raunce, is elevated to the role of butler when the current one dies. An opportunist, he seems to have written his own code of ethics; padding the books by inflating purchase prices to his advantage while sending money orders to his mum in Lon...more
Stenwjohnson
There are “writer’s writers” and then there are “writer’s-writer’s writers,” the term that Terry Southern applied to Henry Green (1905-73). The author of ten novels, Green was admired by W. H. Auden, Eudora Welty, V. S. Pritchett, Rebecca West, and John Updike, but has never risen above cultish esteem. Living (1929), Loving (1945) and Party Going (1939) are available as a Penguin omnibus and represent his living body of work.

Southern’s description suggests that Green has admirable or unique tech...more
Ruth
c1945. I am always a bit concerned when a novel has to have an "Introduction" or a "Preface" by a notable author and/or academic. Needless to say, this book followed the trend ie did not enjoy the book at all. Totally at odds, I know, with all the critics but I found the prose to be jarring on the senses. Life is too short for this! FWFTB: Irish, servants, invading, pilfering, love. FCN: Edith, Violet Tennant, Kate Armstrong, Agatha Burch, Mrs Welch. "Today of all days, I wouldn't wish to have a...more
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Henry Green was the nom de plume of Henry Vincent Yorke.
More about Henry Green...
Loving / Living / Party Going Party Going Concluding Blindness Back

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