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Of Love and Hunger

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  404 ratings  ·  58 reviews
The key literary figure in the pubs of post-war Fitzrovia, Maclaren-Ross pulled together his dispersed energies to write two great books: the posthumously published Memoirs of the Forties and this spectacular novel of the Depression, Of Love and Hunger - harsh, vivid, louche, and slangy, it deserves a permanent place alongside 'Coming Up for Air' and 'Hangover Square'. ...more
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 204 pages
Published August 1st 2002 by Penguin Books Limited (UK) (first published 1947)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  404 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-novels
An interesting novel set in 1939 in the months before the start of war. It opens a window of an England now mostly disappeared; landladies, jobs easy to get and lots of smoking!!. However the themes of love and loss are eternal. The shadow of war is ever present. The main character isn't likeable but the descriptions of daily life are fascinating. The wiki entry is a one-liner and absolutley hilarious; "Richard Fanshawe sells vacuum cleaners for a living and has an unhappy love affair with Sukie ...more
Petra-X Off having adventures
The lives and loves of a vacuum cleaner salesman and his married paramour, Suki, in a depressed pre-war Britain. Naturally the love affair isn't all plain sailing, but it is as much a novel about the people and the times as it is about the affair.

It isn't a hopeful novel. It is life lived at the very edge of poverty where love isn't so much a grand illumination as light relief from the grinding greyness of a day where the future is always uncertain. Will there be enough money to pay the landlad
Sam Quixote
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Set in pre-war South England, a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman called Fanshawe is asked by his mate to look after his wife Sukie while he’s away at sea. The naiveté of some folk, eh? Fanshawe and Sukie end up having an affair, but, with the ever-encroaching spectre of war and the uptight morals of 1930s British society, what will become of their love?

On paper, Of Love and Hunger sounds like a mundane romance novel but Julian Maclaren-Ross’s witty and unique storytelling, crystal clear soc
Doug H
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story in front about vacuum salesmen and failed love is a bit lean, but the larger background themes remain frighteningly fresh and relevant. Not exactly a compelling read, but I liked it overall. Label-resistant and genre-bending. Try to imagine Patrick Hamilton (between-the-wars English boardinghouse and pub settings; love-obsessed, socially marginalized narrator; political themes with a socialist-leaning viewpoint) mixed with James M. Cain (jaded tough-guy protagonist; clipped, vernacular ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I came to this book having read Paul Willetts's biography of Soho legend, Julian Maclaren-Ross, Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia. His was a hand to mouth existence, and - for anyone interested in the 1940s, and literary London - is well worth reading.

Of Love and Hunger, Maclaren-Ross’s first full length novel, draws on his own experiences of living in Bognor Regis and working for Electrolux in Hove as a door to door vacuum salesman. In common with Patrick Hamilton, this is a world of casual work,
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit
Julian MacLaren-Ross, one of the post-war crust taking it upon himself to live a bohemian lifestyle until he found himself on his uppers, much like Derek Raymond would do in the 1980s and how Of Love and Hunger's protagonist Frances Fanshawe chose to live. As a door to door vacuum cleaner salesman no less, flitting from job to job, dwelling to dwelling, debt to debt with a never to be forgotten past that haunts him but is ony hinted at. There's a lost love, a lost career, a lost father, a lost s ...more
Lorenzo Berardi
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Well, to be completely honest with you, I had even forgotten I bought this one on a second hand books purchasing spree in Paris.

Then, as soon as I've seen the novel on my bookshelves stuck in between scores of moth-eaten Penguin titles by David Lodge and George Orwell, I remembered how excited I was when I found it back in France.

I will be partial in this review.

As a matter of fact, there's no other place and time in literature which I like more than England between the 1930s and 1940s. In a spa
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: big-white-square
"She'd dropped an awful brick at the shop: somebody'd slammed the door behind her, and thinking it was Warren, she'd said: 'For Christ's sake make less din, you silly bitch.' Turned around and it was old Morecombe instead. Not so hot, he being a pious old bastard and a churchwarden to boot. Thought she'd get the sack at first, but all she got was a long lecture on ladies using bad language and the decadence of modern youth in general."

How smashing is that?! How about:
"My heart sank when I first
Nov 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: hungry writers
Recommended to Daniel by: Donna Steele
This was pushing against an open door I feel. Over-educated, underskilled, poverty stricken wannabe writer trapped in a meaningless job, heartbroken at destroying his one chance at a decent relationship falling through unsuitable women in a grimy, depression ridden seaside town under the looming shadow of war. Yep. I’m there.
JMR lived the life too, he wasn’t a tourist, he lived dodging landladies and creditors, spending his days drinking and cadging money and his nights bashing out the squalor i
Jan 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Another entry on the "great English boarding-house novels" shelf I referred to in connection with Patrick Hamilton. Maclaren-Ross is a legendary Bohemian of the sort who really lived it, didn't just mess around in his 20s, consequently dying, alcoholic and indebted, at 52.

The characters frequent pubs, get kicked out of their lodgings at boarding houses over tiny amounts of money and unsuccessfully sell vacuum-cleaners door to door (was this really the slacker job of choice in the 1940s?) - once
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews, 1940s
A semi-autobiographical novel set amongst door-to-door vacuum-cleaner salesmen in Bognor Regis, 1939. Who could resist such a treat?

I bought and shelved Of Love and Hunger after reading Patrick Hamilton and picked it off the shelf after reading Anthony Powell. It doesn’t disappoint. Maclaren-Ross, when he’s on form, has a terse style that deftly captures contemporary scenes, like waiting on a deserted station:

The platform was empty. Smith’s Bookstall, Nestlés Chocolate, Churchman’s Cigarettes,
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reviews
It’s always great to kick off a new reading year with a brilliant book, and Julian Maclaren-Ross’s Of Love and Hunger couldn’t be a more perfect start to 2019.

First published in 1947, it’s set in a seedy seaside town on the English coast (most probably Bognor Regis), shortly before the beginning of the Second World War.

It tells the tale of Richard Fanshawe, a 27-year-old door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, who’s struggling to keep his head above water and lives in fear of getting the sack.

Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
This novel really captures the despondency of London between the wars, those young folk living in hostels, in debt, newly hardboiled and cynical, who spent their wages on booze and cigarettes, the dancehalls and the movies on the weekends, the next war creeping up on them. This felt real, had great slangy dialogue, and a kind of disturbing coldness to it, but was pretty funny too in places. If you like that downbeat 30's London feel of say, Patrick Hamilton, or even Isherwood, you should defo gi ...more
From BBC radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
By Julian Maclaren-Ross. Darkly comic novel of 1930's low life.
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Richard, a vacuum cleaner salesman in pre-war Britain, lives on the edge of poverty, hopping from cheap dig to cheaper dig in Brighton. He tries to escape this daily darkness by embarking on an affair with Sukie, his best friend's wife. The love story (and its final resolvement) isn't that compelling to read, but Maclaren-Ross manages to capture the atmosphere of Britain in its pre-war days. Literary style is crystal clear and surprisingly contemporary. ...more
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Engaging/evocative albeit slight tale of vacuum-cleaner saleman(!) in south of England just before outbreak of WW2. Wonderful rolling/laconic style actually makes you interested in Fanshawe's mundane love-life or whether he wins a few bob on a fruit-machine or can successfully dodge his landlady, or... actually sells a cleaner, or... you get the idea!
Oct 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
British sink literature by one of late 40's early 50's great London Soho Dandy figures Julian Maclaren-Ross. A traveling salesman that sells cleaners to housewifes that turns into a romance - it is almost a Morrissey type of romance. Remarkable talent that needs to be read. ...more
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Taking its name from the poem by Auden, a kitchen sink novel many years before the genre existed. The language, sex, social injustice, Fanshawe is a guy you'd want on your side whose forthrightness mirrors the injustice he experiences, in the language of the everyman rather than uni speak, so many scenes here that would have no doubt shocked at the time. I'd give it a reread, it'll still transport and absorb. ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A young British Charles Bukowski or John Fante of the pre war era. 3.75
Derek Collett
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Having read and much enjoyed 'Memoirs of the Forties', this is my first encounter with the novels of Julian Maclaren-Ross. I will definitely be back for more.

The novel, partly based on the author's experience, tells the story of a down-at-heel vacuum cleaner salesman, Richard Fanshawe, working in a small town on the south coast of England in the months leading up to the outbreak of World War Two. It has two main themes: Fanshawe's working life; and Fanshawe's love life. The latter is dormant unt
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
In one respect my initial encounter with this book was a solid blow that sent me down to earth with a resounding crash. Here I was, happily secure in the smug certainty that my knowledge of British fiction and authors of the thirties and forties was an unalterable fact, inviolably cast in stone. And then I stumbled across this novel and its (to me) unknown creator. Talk about stubbing a vulnerable toe on a particularly heavy piece of furniture in a very dark room ...

After buying it I rushed off
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this book. Reminiscent to me of Patrick Hamilton (one of my all time favourite authors), Maclaren-Ross really contours up the atmosphere of pre-war England and it's people. I love reading about this period in history as it holds a real appeal to me, especially the seedy underbelly of life at this time, so well conveyed here, as by Hamiton. The drinking, the love affairs, the cigarettes, the fights. I read this book in less than 24 hours (the mark of a compelling read for me) ...more
Nov 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Fast-paced, and with snappy dialogue, this is an entertaining insight into a long-gone era. Filled with down on their luck characters, who are far from honest with their financial responsibilities, one can't help but root for them. Although the dialogue contains lots of period slang, it doesn't sound out of date. There are some interesting passages when the narrator is recalling faded memories, and the reader is left with the feeling that there is a lot more depth to the lead character than he i ...more
Robert Ronsson
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Written in 1947 for the Twitter generation! Economic sentences that beat the 140 character limit. Takes a few minutes to get into. After that - feels good.
1930's seaside resort selling vacuum cleaners. A life evoked with brevity and clarity. Characters so well done I could see them. Not only the down and outs who sell 'Sucko'. Also the women: the landladies and the women our hero falls for - Sukie and Jackie.
I will look for more by and about MacLaren-Ross.
Todd Grimson
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Maclaren-Ross was the model for X. Trapnel, one of the mostmemorable characters in Anthony Powell's 12-volume A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME. Here is his only novel, an ironic, wised-up somewhat darkly comic tale of a vacuum-cleaner salesman in the slumping England of 1939. Somewhere between Evelyn Waugh and the Patrick Hamilton of HANGOVER SQUARE. ...more
Joyce Bailey
Jan 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Can thoroughly recommend this for character depiction and dialogue. The life of an ex-public schoolboy selling vacuum cleaners in setting of a seedy South coast resort town does not sound immediately enthralling, but it is.
Dec 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Bettie by: Laura
First published in 1947.

Abridged by Lauris Morgan-Griffiths Reader: Carl Prekopp Producer: Beth O'Dea

Music: The Touch Of Your Lips by Hildegarde.

Listen here:
Jonathan Dennis
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a truly beautiful book, the quality and richness of the writing is as good as anything else I have read.
Malcolm Highfield
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
A 'must read' both as a superbly written novel and social history. I didn't want the novek to end. ...more
Sian Cancea
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Similarities to Hangover Square.
Vacuum cleaners and Bognor Regis... Need I say more?
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The English writer and dandy, Julian Maclaren-Ross (1912-64), is synonymous with the bohemian world of mid-twentieth-century Soho. There he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Dylan Thomas, Quentin Crisp, John Minton, Nina Hamnett, Joan Wyndham, Aleister Crowley, John Deakin, Augustus John, Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde. His theatrical dress sense — a sharp suit combined with his famous tedd ...more

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