Thomas J. Hubschman's Reviews > The Slaves of Solitude

The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton
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Aug 01, 2011

really liked it
Read in July, 2011

Patrick Hamilton's best book. He was hailed as a modern Dickens, but never got the attention he deserves, though the comparison is not without truth. He has a similar sense of humor and his characters strike me as being very much the sort that Dickens would have latched onto in the 1930s and '40s.

Much is made of this novel's portrayal of the second world war as experienced in a small English town. But for me the setting is very secondary. The story is really about Enid Roach, a plain almost-middle-aged woman living in a boarding house full of older single people. She attempts to help and then is set upon and eventually all but driven crazy by a woman who sets out to steal away the Yank who is, apparently, courting Miss Roach--her first and last opportunity to marry.

But Hamilton is never done justice by an account of his plot or his characters. He is one of those authors who not only draw you into his stories like a good thriller-writer (he wrote Gaslight and Rope) but who give you half a dozen moments in their books that make you feel proud to be a member of a species that can produce art of such deeply moving quality.
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