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Towards the End of the Morning

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,007 ratings  ·  94 reviews
This tale is set in the crossword and nature-notes department of an obscure national newspaper during the declining years of Fleet Street.
Paperback, 221 pages
Published May 19th 2005 by Faber & Faber (first published 1967)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  1,007 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: british
The Council Estate

Before the internet in Britain, there was a thing called Fleet Street. This was as much a culture as a location. It sat culturally and geographically midway between the commercial city of London and the seat of government in Westminster. It produced something called newspapers, an artefact that had political and commercial importance. But it was adept neither at managing nor governing its own affairs. It was trapped by its technology and its traditions and was slowly suffocatin
Fictional account of journalists working on Fleet Street. I liked it, don't get me wrong but Frayn's updated introduction was more enjoyable than the whole book. The first couple of chapters were fine concentrating on the journalists on Fleet street & gave a pretty good rendition of how newspapers worked - not to mention the long pub lunches, but the end pretty much petered out with the domestic lives of the main characters, and recounting of John's airline screwup of his Persian Gulf trip. I gu ...more
Jan 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel, originally written in 1967, is an icredible capture of Fleet Street in London at the end of the 1950s. Fleet Street was the centre of newspapers and this is set in the crosswords section of an unnamed paper. It preserves an era of journalism that is both well dead and lovingly missed. Frayn is a marvelous novelist who got his start in newspapers and there is a quality of nostalgia about the book that is quite moving. As with all of Frayn's work it is about something and something els ...more
Douglas Perry
May 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
On the cover of my copy of "Towards the End of the Morning" is a quote from Christopher Hitchens: "The only fiction set in Fleet Street that can bear comparison with 'Scoop'."

That’s a nice blurb. But I don’t know how one would go about comparing the two novels. Evelyn Waugh’s 1938 classic, following an accidental foreign correspondent covering a civil war in Africa, is a satire of sensation journalism. Michael Frayn’s 1967 novel, on the other hand, is a thoroughly domestic affair and doesn’t eve
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book reeks of newsrooms smells from before computer screens and photo-setting - anyone who worked in newspapers of that era would recognise not just the characters and the events, but the wasteful, unworldly pace of journalistic life before proprietors were replaced by shareholders and the double tsunami of broadcasting and the internet swept away print journalism as it once was. This book is funny and farcical. And more than a little sad for some of us....
Perfect example of its type - a realistic portrayal of a very English sensiblity of woolly-minded middle-class liberal floundering through life. You just want to take each of the characters in turn and give them a good shake! Achingly well observed and with dialogue of the highest order, and just slightly tipping over into caricature - enough to make it hilarious, but not so far as to sever its links to painful reality. Modern Classic.
Jake Goretzki
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Really quite a likeable period piece, this. I came to it after Andrew Marr mentioned it in 'My Trade' as capturing the atmosphere of Fleet Street in its slow declining days. I'm surprised it was never made into a series. Think: Lucky Jim crossed with a reliable seventies sitcom.

Touches upon class (this being the age of grammar school boys rising and toffs donning gangster accents); TV (feels very accurate), gender (lots of her indoors) and domestic (the ambition to buy somewhere crap and for th
Peter Dunn
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
First published in 1967 this could be seen as bit of a museum piece now in its fictional depiction of live in the media. I say media rather just a newspaper as it also touches on radio and TV. It does leave aside the hard news side of both broadcast and print media, but there are plenty of others who have trodden that path.

This fictional focus on the features, fillers and analysis side of things in the Sixties is endearingly quaint and it is a quick and entertaining read. Yes I have used the wo
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Michael Frayn's Booker shortlisted Headlong so much when I read it 18 years ago now that I have periodically been tempted to go back to him. The problem is that I've never been entirely satisfied. A great introduction to this book that tells of the pubs and alleyways of Fleet Street in their heyday - an area I myself was to find myself working in at the turn of the millennium - promised much but this turned out to be light satirical fayre when I would have loved to get my teeth into ...more
The Final Chapter
Feb 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1967
High 3. A humorous and poignant look at the decline of old-fashioned print journalism in the face of the challenge of television broadcasting. The reader is parachuted into the mundanity of John Dyson's work as sub-editor of the crosswords and nature notes department of an unspecified newspaper. In the middle of a mid-life crisis, he is deperate to escape this journalistic backwater and establish his credentials as a broadcaster. Frayn mercilessly pokes fun at Dyson and his office colleagues' fa ...more
Jim Leckband
May 07, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a very "American" novel set in London in the early '60's. "American" because it has as one of its concerns the very American quest for personal transformation. Everyone in this novel is desperately trying to transform themselves. An editor into a TV personality, a reporter into a novelist, a finishing-school (can't get much more transformational than this!) girl into a wife, a housewife into anything but a housewife, a graduate into a press baron.

Fans of the play "Noises Off" will be rem
Wendy Carlyle
Sep 25, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this in preparation for my first Book Club meet. When I read the blurb it did not appeal and the Sunday Times review ' of the funniest novels about journalists ever written.' gave me a sinking feeling so I was determined not to enjoy this microcosm of life in the crossword and times past section of a minor league newspaper! However after struggling with the first couple of chapters I gradually grew fond of egotistical Dyson and his fumbling sidekick Bob. Mrs Mounce is also a cleverl ...more
Clair Sharpe
Feb 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I did not want to read this - I have a pile of books next to my bed that I'm dying to get into but this was my February book club read and I had to read it for the meeting - but I wasn't happy about it!
As it was, it was quite good fun. Towards the End of the Morning is set in the crossword and nature notes department of an obscure national newspaper during the declining years of Fleet Street. The book is evocatively written and I could imagine the cigarette smoke and typewriters of the newsroom.
Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
N.R.'s hire at the Guardian; weekend in Louth. ...more
Bob Mcdermott
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Made me laugh as much as any book ever has, but with poignancy amongst the humour. Having only ever experienced Michael Frayn through Noises Off at the theatre I'll definitely be reading more of his novels. ...more
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
There’s a quote on the back of my edition of this book from a review in The Spectator which reads: ‘A sublimely funny comedy about the ways newspapers try to put lives into words.’ Let’s break out our blue pencil: funny, yes. This is a very funny book. Sublimely? Not in the Burkean sense, no. And the newspaper bit? No, it isn’t really about that at all. In fact the quote is flat-out wrong in that respect. Which is odd, because this is commonly described as one of the great novels about the pre-M ...more
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-copy, presents
A little slow to start with, but the story developed into a well observed and amusing take on Fleet Street in the 1960's.

A really enjoyable read.
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
James Dyson, mid-level editor at an ailing London paper, and his underling, Bob Bell, are two overworked and underpaid hacks in Fleet Street in the 1960s, at a time when the newspaper industry in that famous thoroughfare was in terminal decline. They both aspire to greater things, but seem to be stuck in a rut churning out all sorts of titbits and crosswords puzzles that fills the gaps in the newspaper pages.

Besides work, they both have complex family lives. Dyson loves his wife, Jannie, althou
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some review or other of this book mentioned "Keep the Aspidistra Flying" by Orwell. That is a good reference point for this work. The cover review quotes of this book mention jokes and humour. I can see the parts of the book where I'm supposed to laugh. I managed a couple of stifled grunts. I wonder if my reaction to the book is my own cynicism or simply the gap in the cultures of the 1970s where things were somehow still "jolly" and 2017 marked by war all the time, the growing gap between the p ...more
Christian Schwoerke
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found the novel sprightly and entertaining, though not much really occurs. Characters enact a pantomime of frenzied motion and feverish thought, but they never actually advance. A large part of the charm is the set up, with the characters variously at their Fleet Street office, the pub, in their suburban settings, or, in the penultimate sequence, mired in one airport or another in between each disastrous leg of a flight that never reaches its destination.

The novel is set in the London of the
John Cravey
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
12 chapters, 94,000+ words

How have I lived this long without knowing about this book and Michael Frayn? I’ve since learned that Frayn has been an eminent playwright for years. But if not for Valancourt Books, I still wouldn’t know about him or his work. I hope Valancourt wins its fight against the U.S. Copyright Office and becomes more prosperous.

This account of London journalists and their families, colleagues and friends is funny and interesting and such a pleasure to read that I had to force
Ben Cullimore
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Towards the End of the Morning is a wonderfully amusing tale of an unnamed British newspaper during the heyday of Fleet Street. Tasked with completing mundane tasks such as compiling the "nature notes" column and daily crossword, the small office crew - led by main protagonist John Dyson - spend their days dreaming of better things, wondering where it all went so wrong.

Set towards the end of the 1950s, Towards the End of the Morning is not only a great example of satire but presents an interesti
Perry Whitford
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fleet Street was still in its pomp when I was a young pup. It struck me as a squalidly noble place to work. Then Rupert Murdoch came along. The printing presses went upmarket to Wapping, the printed word went decidedly down-market to tabloid hell.

(By the way, I just discovered that when you write 'Fleet' the Google word prediction device doesn't offer up 'Street' as an option, but the name 'Rupert' does present 'Murdoch' as a likely successor. Says it all really.)

John Dyson is a self-important y
Mel Siew
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ultimately a disappointing book and not what I expected.

I saw this in Waterstones as it had been reprinted this year. I've been to a few Michael Frayn plays, so knew the style of writing, but this still read very much like one of his plays rather than a novel as there is plenty of dialogue or internal monologues.

I had bought this thinking that it would be a novel describing life working in a newspaper from the 1960s, which it does at the start. But then it descends into character neuroses, muc
Liz Polding
Aug 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I have read and enjoyed several of Michael Frayn's works. I especially loved the wonderfully inventive Headlong, which I would recommend to anyone. This, I'm afraid, I didn't enjoy very much. It seems very dated in style and although that may well be because he is writing about a pre-Maxwell, pre-Wapping era of newspapers and journalism in Fleet Street, it all seems a bit, well, unimportant. I didn't really find any of the characters engaging. I'm afraid I couldn't really have cared less what th ...more
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I may try again, but I gave up on this after a couple of chapters.

It's funny in a deeply understated English way, but not funny enough.

The newspaper office chapter I read was reminscent of Scoop, but not as funny.

The suburbanite-at-home chapter I read was reminscent of Keep the Aspidistra Flying, but not as good.

Everything seems to be shrouded in postwar British gloom. Literally, as far as the first chapter is concerned.

I didn't get far enough in to receive any idea of the story.

This one down to
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you enjoy watching Ealing Comedies or reading novels by the likes or Stella Gibbons or David Lodge then this is a good book to choose. It is a gentle, unassuming and very British humour that might not play well to people who are expecting something extravagant. Personally I found some of the scenes featuring the awful Mrs Mounce hilarious, as was the scene featuring the TV performance. I could vividly picture the characters and the whole thing played out like one of the early Ealing or early ...more
Jamie MacDonald Jones
I think that this book, much like other pieces of Michael Frayn's work, is subtly very good. The delicious humour that Frayn weave throughout was very enjoyable and made it very easy to breeze through the book.

I agree with other reviews that not a huge amount happens in terms of the plot but I believe that adds in to the idea Frayn is developing of a stulted, rebarbative existence that can be so caught up in habit, normality and routine that ultimately it doesn't lead anywhere - even when your
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book took a bit to get into, as it throws you into a chaotic introduction with an expectation that you will immediately keep up. Simultaneously, the beginning reads as slow because you can't care about characters if you can't keep up with them. A few chapters in, this changes and it becomes hard to put down as you follow exchanges between and ruminations of characters who either care too much or not at all. Much of the humor in this book centers around the clash between apathy, ignorance, a ...more
Simon Q
Jan 29, 2012 rated it liked it
The second Frayn novel I've read (after Spies) and not as enjoyable. Though amusing at times and with some good characters, it didn't really go anywhere.

I'm sure there would be greater appeal for ex Fleet Street journalists from the old days, as it did well to capture the working practises of the sixties, which I'm sure don't exist any more.

Perhaps I was expecting a greater emphasis on comedy, having thouroghly enjoyed Noises Off.
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Michael Frayn is an English playwright and novelist. He is best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy. His novels, such as Towards the End of the Morning, Headlong and Spies, have also been critical and commercial successes, making him one of the handful of writers in the English language to succeed in both drama and prose fiction. His works often rais ...more

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