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The Green Hat

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  167 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
The Green Hat perfectly reflects the atmosphere of the 1920s—the post-war fashion for verbal smartness, youthful cynicism, and the spirit of rebellion of the "bright young things" of Mayfair. Iris Storm, femme fatale, races around London and Europe in her yellow Hispano-Suiza surrounded by romantic intrigue, but beneath the glamour she is destined to be a tragic heroine. A ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published April 1st 1991 by Robin Clark Ltd (first published January 1st 1924)
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Oct 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: big-white-square
Baby Warren and Dick Diver in "Tender is the Night":

"I meant it might be nice for you to take a house in London for the spring season - I know a dove of a house in Talbot Square you could get, furnished. I mean, living with sane, well-balanced English people."
She would have gone on to tell him all the old propaganda stories of 1914 if he had not laughed and said:
"I've been reading a book by Michael Arlen and if that's – "
She ruined Michael Arlen with a wave of her salad spoon.
"He only writes abo
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is most definitely one of the finer novels I've read in some time. Sometimes called "the iconic novel of the 1920s", the books is written in a style that keeps the reader fascinated with the language of the author. Although Arlen wasn't a native English speaker, his use of words and his ability to string them together and produce imagery is excellent.

The plot line moves along, and although foreshadowing led me to hypothesize the conclusion and how the characters might end up I still enjoyed
Jennifer W
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: byt-1900-1940
Who is Iris Storm? Is she Is she a tramp? A hussy? Why do people around her keep dying? Is she fated to have a miserable, lonely existance, or does she bring it upon herself?

This book starts off, slowly, pretentiously, and nearly without a link to our time; stuck in a time capsule if you will. For 50+ pages you wonder if you're ever going to get to a real story and stop with the arcane name dropping. Then, something happens (thanksfully), you find out what happened to Iris' first husband... kin
Seth Holler
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Capsule: An excellent read if the archness of the narrator doesn't drive you nuts.

I liked this very much, and I absolutely see why it was such a sensation when first published in 1924; this is a novel of jazz clubs and motorcars rather than Edwardian country houses or wartime patriotic soldiers. Arlen explores questions of purity, honour and loyalty from a post-WWI standpoint, revealing (and doubtless also creating) the values of the 1920s. His heroine, the scandalous Iris Storm, is the focal po
Philip Lane
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I think I might be slightly over-rating this book but it fascinated me. First of all I had never heard of the writer and then found out English was not his mother tongue and that he has a very exotic background. At first I found it quite difficult reading because there is a certain elliptical style, both on tents of sentences left unfinished but also major events in the plot skimmed over. This of course creates a feeling of mystery and it turns out that for me this made it a slow burner. The lan ...more
Anne Billson
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Absurd flowery prose, but this ancient bestseller was recommended to me because I too at one time wore a hat like that. It's the story of Iris Storm, who wears a green hat, drives a yellow Hispano-Suiza, and deliberately presents herself as a woman of easy virtue because she has a dark, dark secret in her past - the sort of secret that only a woman in a 1920s bestselling novel could have. It's all champagne and characters called "Boy" and "Venice" and glittering Mayfair nightclubs and people say ...more
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
There goes Iris Storm, nee March, in her yellow Hispano-Suiza. Does that girl know how to shift? Her honking character is s'posedly based on Nancy Cunard/Idina Sackville. She tossed off 2 husby's, one who hurled himself fr a window, "for purity" and the pox. Arlen, an Armenian from Bulgaria, fawningly sniffs The Bright Young Things of Vulgaria. Headstrong Iris takes a final ride as boypal Hilary sobs, "Iris! Not that--." Yes, it's a THAT.

Mar 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Green Hat was written by a Armenian author, naturalized citizen of the United Kingdom and published in the London and the US in 1924. I read a 1924 edition, ILL loan book. As I mentioned, the pages were quite fragile. I am so thankful for libraries and ILL loans that make it possible to read these books. The Green Hat tells the story of Iris Storm. It is a satirical romance set in London. Iris is prevented from marrying her childhood sweetheart Napier Harpenden. She is widowed twice and suff ...more
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was great, even though it is certainly dated and a bit moralistic (not in the sense that it promotes morals, but the plot relies on assumptions about honor, and especially feminine virtue, which seem patronizing now.) But it was full of great, quotable lines. I almost want to buy the book so I can underline most of it and keep it.
Mar 21, 2014 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Blah. It's reminding me exactly why I've found F. Scott Fitzgerald a chore to get through.
Stephen AB

On Monday I finished the almost forgotten Michael Arlen’s The Green Hat, which I enjoyed very much. I’m also reading, in dribs and drabs, an biography of Nancy Cunard, which has a chapter on Arlen (they were lovers for a time, and the main character in The Green Hat – Iris Storm – has a resemblance, in some aspects, to Cunard) – whew – anyway, this is a long way around to quoting a description of The Green Hat: “high class trash”! Not a bad description...

...and I enjoyed it on that level; bu
Not a lot happens in the first half of this novel. There are some great sentences. There are sentences that had the potential for greatness, but they go too far in their Yoda-esque syntax, in their, to me, un-unravelable knots of clauses; sentences that are, dare I of all people say? a tad overwritten. Occasionally, when sense failed to penetrate a particularly complex sentence, I wondered if the editor had put a punctuation mark in the wrong place. (And surely those midgets on pages 219 and 239 ...more
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it

The story of the author's life is as romantic and stylised as this book, which was a runaway success when published in 1924. He was born in Bulgaria of an Armenian family fleeing the problems in the Ottoman Empire. The family relocated yet again, to England, where Dikran Konyoumdijan turned himself into an impeccably tailored English gentleman, complete with cane, who was friends with Noel Coward, D.H. Lawrence and Arnold Bennett and lover of Nancy Cunard, who was apparently the model for Iris M
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Arlen's "The Green Hat" is a peculiar book because of its predominant form of language usage. The first 100 pages of this 200 page novel are extremely layered in intensively social British speak of the 20's that not only confounds the dialogue but also shapes the narrative. At first this was a charming thing, and while I was forced to read more slowly as with any book of eclectic style it was also very rewarding to catch all of the quip and pip of rather intelligent and sensitive British sensibi ...more
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I had trouble getting into this book. It's "veddy, veddy British". I had to keep my smart phone at hand to assist with the British vocabulary and the French phrases. And Arlen uses lots of inversions and extremely long sentences, so in a sense the reading was a lot like eating with a serving spoon rather than a fork. After I got used to taking smaller bites, the reading started to flow more comfortably. The story is essentially that of Iris Storm, from the age of 18 to 30. She is a woman whose s ...more
The Green Hat was a play that Beatrix Lehmann understudied for Tallulah Bankhead in. The play had some quite mixed reviews as the novel was very popular (and a bit shocking) and the play was a very watered down version. (Presumably so it could make it past the censors). So I decided I'd read the original novel. It was Brilliant! I really loved this! There were so many fantastic passages and wonderful observations on people, society and literature. The first scene has the two main characters disc ...more
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: litteratur
Kind of strange book. It seems to be very easy, maybe a bit sarcastical or satirical. Short sentences. Fairly simple language. But yet I found it difficuelt to understand. Maybe et is more complicated than I acknowledged at first. Perhaps the scene and narrator keep shifting. HOwever the difficulty most likely derive from the age of the book. I think I didnt understand many of the pictures, frases of persens refered to.

The book is mainly about an upperclass women of 29. She mystifies the narrat
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Starting off slowly, with the prose sometimes enervatingly poetic, this story of love and honour in 1920s London picks up speed as it goes along until a fantastic finale that stands as one of the best literary stand-offs I have ever read. The book was so controversial in its time that, when it was adapted for film in 1928, the title as well as names of characters had to be changed. As 'A Woman of Affairs', it is still a potent film, with Greta Garbo as the perfect Iris Storm/Diana Merrick.
A grea
The novel came out in 1924 and was a big hit because of its "daring and exotic" risqué topics. In 1928 it was made into a vague and sterilized Hollywood version entitled 'A Woman of Affairs', a silent movie starring Greta Garbo.
The book has its moments. It offers a glimpse at the 1920s social scene in London and Paris and captures the frenzy as well as the disenchantment of the period. The overblown style of Arlen's writing was a bit annoying, especially at the beginning, and the story dragged o
Pretentious in the beginning and as someone else here mentioned, the archness of the narrator became tiresome. It is a 271 page book that took me 170 pages to get into. I put it down no less than 4 times to read other books, often thinking I wouldn't go back to it. But I have read so many good reviews by trusted readers that I kept trying. I am very glad I persisted. For the last 100 pages it was not-put-downable. I get it now.
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-extra
The author of this lightly satirical book about a certain class of British 'bright young things' was Armenian. He was a part of their world (there are real-life models for several of his characters), while perhaps being able to stand a little outside it and observe.
It is the story of Iris Storm, a scandalous beauty, and includes all the excesses indulged in by the 'fast set' of the time. The plot involves doomed romance and melodrama, but is so flamboyant, stylised and witty that any sense of t
Aug 16, 2008 rated it liked it
I'm taken back to ideas of virtue and honor and how these ideas really apply to the almost modern world. The book was written over eighty years ago. With the advent of daytime television, our views towards men and women's purity have changed. We still need to find a true path to what is honorable and the consequences that our actions will have on the others most dear in our lives.
May 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
It's not actually about a green hat . . . . Yay depressing Modernism!
Austen to Zafón
Jun 23, 2013 marked it as to-read
WHY IT'S ON MY TO-READ: 1920's Bright Young Things novel that made the author a fortune. Made into a movie with Greta Garbo.
Jan 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked the writing, even though he was deliberately obscure at times. The plot, though, turned into laughable melodrama by the end
David Rickards
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Though the plot was good, it was Arlen's writing style that made me like this book. Somehow, he is restrained and impressionistic at the same time. A very English book. #1000novels
Dec 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not an easy read. There's a lot of moralising but it has an interesting ending so worth sticking with.
Definitely hints at things to come from later authors, but perfectly of the period. Beautiful details and descriptions. It's a mix of Ford Madox Ford and Waugh, I think.
Jul 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Although I enjoyed much of the book. I just could not get past the anti-semitism in some passages.
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Original name Dikran Kouyoumdjian. Armenian essayist, short story writer, novelist, playwright, and scriptwriter, who had his greatest successes in the 1920s while living and writing in England. Although Arlen is most famous for his satirical romances set in English smart society, he also wrote gothic horror and psychological thrillers, for instance "The Gentleman from America", which was filmed i ...more
More about Michael Arlen...
“To me, a world which thinks of itself in terms of puny, squalid, bickering little nations and not as one glorious field for the crusade of mankind is a world in which to succeed is the highest indignity that ca befall a good man, it is a world in which geed men are shut up like gods in a lavatory.” 2 likes
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