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Mr. Chartwell

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  1,491 ratings  ·  367 reviews
July 1964. Chartwell House, Kent: Winston Churchill wakes at dawn. There’s a dark, mute “presence” in the room that focuses on him with rapt concentration.

It’s Mr. Chartwell.

Soon after, in London, Esther Hammerhans, a librarian at the House of Commons, goes to answer the door to her new lodger. Through the glass she sees a vast silhouette the size of a mattress.

It’s Mr. Ch
Hardcover, 242 pages
Published February 8th 2011 by The Dial Press (first published January 1st 2010)
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Maggie Stiefvater
Five Things About Mr. Charwell:

1. If I tell you this is a book about depression, you won’t want to read it. At least, I wouldn’t want to read it. Depression is real, yes, but depression also tends to be static; it clogs and slows and dilutes its victim. Which makes for boring fiction. So I won’t tell you that this book is about depression (because it’s not very true, anyway). I will instead tell you that this book is about Winston Churchill, which also isn’t tremendously true. Winston Churchill
This was a tricky one for me. I thought it was funny and very moving. I really liked it. But. My apologies to Mr. Churchill, but the black dog metaphor just doesn't work for me. Depression as an annoyance, an uninvited guest who shows up and bugs you, chewing rocks and whispering in your ear, crushing your chest and hogging the bed just misses something. Depression is so all-encompassing and I've found that it's very internal as well. It's not a visitor, it's an all-out crippling assault; your o ...more
Rebecca Hunt has created an interesting novel set in 1964 featuring Winston Churchill, in the days before his final retirement, Esther Hammerhans, a librarian at the House of Commons, and a Black Dog. Of course this isn't just any dog but Churchill's "black dog" of depression that has been with him for much of his life. I am tempted to say the dog has been anthropomorphized but can that refer to dogs? Well perhaps there is some other term but I will leave it at that!! You must read the book for ...more
Going into Mr Chartwell you should know that Winston Churchill suffered with depression throughout his adult life and referred to depression as "the black dog". Got it? Now you are ready to read one of the more original novels I've read in a long time.

The title character in Mr Chartwell is that black dog. Or something very like a dog. Mr Chartwell is 6' 7", smelly, and resembles a black Labrador. He has quite a few human characteristics: he speaks English, walks on his hind legs, drinks, needs
Rebecca Foster
This novel is based around a simple conceit: Winston Churchill’s depression, which he referred to as his ‘black dog,’ is not metaphorical but actual. He is, in fact, an enormous creature (variously called Mr. Chartwell or Black Pat) who haunts both Churchill and Esther Hammerhans, a widowed library clerk at Westminster Palace, who has her own depression to fight off as the second anniversary of her husband’s suicide nears.

There are clever elements here, but in general I thought a more talented w
hm. Well. This book was an interesting take on depression. Rebecca Hunt uses the figure of a large, black, beastly dog over turning and overtaking people's lives to attempt to illustrate the despair and life-owning horror that is depression. I really thought the imagery et. al was interesting and fresh. I like the language of her writing, but was often bored and slogging through. I was determined to finish reading and I did, but it was difficult.

Read more here:
From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
Set across five days in July 1964 we follow the bizarrely intertwined lives of Sir Winston Churchill, Esther Hammerhans and the unwelcome visitor they both share.

Episode 1/10
July 1964: The lives of Winston Churchill and Esther, a library clerk, become intertwined.

Episode 2/10:
July 1964, and the day looms when Winston Churchill must leave Parliament. Meanwhile Esther, a library clerk, has her own black date in the diary. She also has an unusual visitor.

First off this is definitely one of those books that will divide opinions both amongst readers and within their own minds. Upon starting this book I was a little confused as to its purpose and that of a six foot talking black dog but as the story progresses the reader gradually pieces together his purpose, as does Esther, our quiet and reserved 'heroine'. This book is driven by its characters which are brilliantly and subtly written, allowing their personalities to develop through their actions ...more
This is a clever and funny book about a serious topic. Churchill named his depression a black dog and Rebecca Hunt personifies the dog. Mr Chartwell is a very large (human sized) black labrador who can speak and interact. His job is with those who have depression and he takes his job seriously. The story is set over 5 days in July 1964.
Mr Chartwell (or Black Pat as he is also known) divides his time between Winston Churchill, who is retiring from Parliament and Esther, a House of Commons librari
Mr Chartwell centres around a single idea, though it's admittedly quite a striking one: based on Winston Churchill's famous description of his depression as 'the black dog', it imagines the physical incarnation of depression as an actual, huge, walking (occasionally on hind legs) and talking, black dog, the Mr Chartwell of the title. We see how the presence of the dog - Black Pat, as he decides to call himself - affects two characters; Churchill himself, facing the official end of his parliament ...more
A lot of critics on here seem to have assessed this book as if it were a self-help guide to depression, or even a realist novel ('how come other people can't see the dog?' etc). It's much cleverer than that, though it does have a lot of first-time novelist faults about it, not least some clunky use of background detail and some some rather 'chick fic' dialogue. It's also a fusion of Judith Kerr's 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea', Anthony Minghella's 'Truly, Madly, Deeply' (the new boyfriend is very l ...more
Valley Cottage Library
This is not a book for everyone. I won't lie. It's a weird one. It has the feeling and pace of a lot of the weirder indie movies(think Spike Jonze). In order to enjoy this book, you have to be able to suspend disbelief and just accept that there is an annoying, smelly, talking, drinking dog following people around to depress them. Once you accept that, this is a subtly funny, very imaginative novel.

This book brings together the stories of Winston Churchill during his last week of office and a y
I'm not sure what I think about this book yet. I might add more stars after thinking about it for a bit because I think I'm giving it fewer stars because I started with very high expectations.

Originally I was influenced by the artwork on the cover. It's the silhouette of a black dog (looking like a Newfoundland) holding a black hat in his mouth against a yellow/orange background. The dog looked so cute that I wanted to know more about the book. The synopsis begins "July 1964. London. Esther Hamm
I'd definitely give it 3 1/2 stars if I could. Great read and a very clever, even unique (don't get to say that often) premise. Winston Churchill described his depression as a "black dog," and in this book, Rebecca Hunt makes depression a huge, monstrous, talking, bothersome black dog who hounds those he's assigned to visit.
In the novel, Churchill is on the eve of retiring from his 64 years of public service, and Black Pat is busy torturing him. His only breaks come when the dog is working on y
J.M. Cornwell
Allegorical fantasy told with dark humor and containing a sharp golden heart.

Parliamentary librarian, Esther Hammerhans, put an ad in the newspaper for a renter. She wanted company, someone to help divert her attention from the looming date of her husband’s suicide two years before. What she got was a massive black dog that calls himself Mr. Chartwell. He has business in the city and needs a room to be close to his client—Winston Churchill. Black Pat also has business with Esther, but she does
To paraphrase Elvis Presley, depression “ain’t nothing but a hound dog.” In an audacious conceit, Ms. Hunt imagines the depression that hounded Winston Churchill his entire life as exactly that – “unmistakably a dog, a mammoth muscular dog about six foot seven high” whose short black fur is “dense and water-resistant, his broad face split by a vulgar mouth.”

This mesmerizing dog’s day job is the consistent persecution of Winston Churchill, who, at 89 years old, is on the cusp of retiring from hi
Aug 28, 2012 kari rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
I kept waiting for something, anything to actually happen in this book. Maybe I'm supposed to feel that way as depression can make you feel like life is not moving forward. Not sure if that is on purpose by the author, though, or just how I felt about it.
The language of the story-telling gets in the way of the story. There are too many descriptive passages that you need to read over once and again to try to pull some meaning from what's there. Chockful of metaphor after metaphor, some which are
Dan (aka Utterbiblio)
Rebecca Hunt's take on depression is refreshing and on point. Living with such a debilitating condition is very much how Rebecca depicts it. It's not a book for everyone, it's dwindling and tiresome at times due to the subject matter, but it shouldn't be avoided.

It's a book, that despite my comments, should be read by everyone to respect what some people have to walk through life with over their head. Hunt's depictions of the illness are the physical embodiment of how all of your energy, happine
I really enjoyed this book, even though I almost stopped reading it after some thoughtless fool gave away the twist when I was only a chapter in -- don't you hate people like that?

I decided to give it another go, though, and I'm happy I did. I liked the character of Mr. Chartwell -- or Black Pat, as he likes to be called -- an enormous black dog (who talks!) who turns up on Esther Hammerhans' doorstep at exactly the wrong time. He reminded me of a canine Jeremy Clarkson, and even though he has a
David Hebblethwaite
Winston Churchill famously described his depression as a “Black Dog”; the premise of Rebecca Hunt’s first novel is that there really was a black dog – Black Pat Chartwell, a six-foot-seven talking dog who walks on his hind legs. The events of Mr Chartwell take place in July 1964, in the week running up to Churchill’s retirement from Westminster (and scant months before his death). Black Pat becomes a lodger in the home of Esther Hammerhans, a clerk in the House of Commons library. Just as Church ...more
I may never look at a black Labrador in the same way again. In July 1964, on the eve of Churchill’s resignation from Parliament, Esther Hammerhans prepares her spare room for a lodger who turns out to be…a large, black dog. There are brilliant descriptions of Churchill’s luxurious estate with its fine gardens, furniture, fabrics and exotic knickknacks and mementos and Esther’s more modest flat full of cheap souvenirs; their homes are veritable museums to both the joys and the pains of their past ...more
Lydia Presley
While I do not feel the summary shows this novel in the light it should have been shown, Mr. Chartwell definitely takes it's place among some of the most unique, interesting books I've read. I approached the story believing there'd be more interaction between the famous Mr. Churchill and Esther but instead, found more of a coincidental connection and just one small scene with both involved. This disappointed me a bit, but something else made up for that disappointment.

Having dealt with depressio
Linda Rollins
An unusually creative and surprising tale

A story about Winston Churchill, a young woman named Esther and a massive black dog called Mr Chartwell, who walks on his hind legs and talks. The intrigue of this introduction alone leads you to read on.

The writing at first seems a little hesitant, almost as though the author isn’t quite sure and is trying too hard. The language used is sometimes beautiful but it doesn’t seem to flow as it should. However, the writing becomes more confident as you gradu
A book perhaps for those with enquiring, open minds, for those willing to suspend disbelief - otherwise it would be quite difficult, nigh impossible to get past the premise of depression personified as a walking, talking, beer drinking black dog.

It is July 1964 and Winston Churchill faces the abyss as he approaches his retirement, a time which, free from the distraction of work, will open the door to the likes of Black Pat, the huge, menacing black dog who darkens his mood and encumbers him bot
I wanted to read this book to see if it was, indeed, "chick lit," the accusation it was damned with by the New York Times reviewer. My conclusion, for what it's worth, is that it is not chick lit, but rather literary fiction. And I think this lies in the intention of the writer. Ms. Hunt was not attempting a light, entertaining read based on She and He coming together romantically at the end. She was attempting an exploration of the experience of depression, using a fictional conceit.
And the rev
lent to me by a colleague. Read it over Christmas (along with all the book-pressies I'll get).

well the lower end of three stars, but doesn't quite deserve a two. In fact I started off liking this, the 'black dog' that Churchill called his depression turning up at the door of a House of Commons librarian in June 1964, looking for a room to rent. That scene was carried off in style. However the dogginess of the titular protagonist soon got boring, and I found my mind wandering as I read. The char
The concept of this book was quite good but in the end I found it rather dull. There were some interesting ideas about mental illness but the way it was portrayed ended up annoying me. Maybe this was because I live in a more enlightened time where people are more able to talk about such things - maybe that was the author's point? Despite that I stuck with it as it was engaging enough to make me want to know the end of the story.
Liz Conklin
I listened to the audio version, and highly recommend it. The narrator's depiction of Black Pat revealed his wit, sarcasm and dark presence so well. The author does a fine job of bringing Churchill's black dog to life. He's always there, stinking up the place, chewing on table legs and making a huge, messy nuisance of himself. As strong as he is, the humans he chooses (some of them) have options. Not all are destined to 'consent to the descent.'
Terri Light
This is by far the best book I have run into so far in 2013. It is brilliant in the magical realism realm (Mr. Chartwell, is, um, well, sort of, ahhh, you will just have to read the first chapter and see) and a delight of historical fiction. I am an Anglophile to the nth degree and the (mostly) historically related facts about Churchill, his mannerisms, his persona, and his private life are a curmudgeonly charm. I was instantly entranced and as the book progressed it got more and more compelling ...more
Kasey Jueds
Depression must be one of the most difficult subjects to write about... I can't think of a book I've read (at least recently) that makes it as real as Mr. Chartwell does (and, weirdly, makes it real by making it totally unreal, by personifying depression as an enormous, messy, smelly black dog). Moving and surprising and beautifully written, overall and at the sentence level--there were so many I read over and over, and copied down, and pondered. Mr. Chartwell himself isn't the only startling th ...more
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Rebecca Hunt graduated from Central Saint Martins College with a first class honours degree in fine art. She lives and works in London. Mr Chartwell is her first novel.
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