Roger Pettit's Reviews > Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe
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Aug 25, 2011

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I was slightly disappointed by this book. It's a good enough read but, given that it seems to be held in high regard by a number of critics, I was expecting rather more from it. I certainly do not understand why it is generally considered to be a classic of 20th century literature. The novel is set in Nottingham in the 1950s. The principal character, Arthur Seaton, is a hard-working, hard-drinking, womanising, young man who works in a bicycle factory. His personality is complex. I found it difficult to care about him. The most beguiling aspect of the book for me is its value as a record of social history. It describes in seemingly authentic detail the lives of working-class East Midlands families trying to come to terms with the post-Second World War world. It doesn't pull its punches in doing so. There is, for example, a description of what seems to my 21st century sensibilities a bizarre form of DIY pregnancy termination. But, at times, I was bored (the latter stages of the book are less interesting than the first 100 or so pages). The novel covers a wider timespan than the title suggests (the title seems to represent two separate phases of Arthur's life: his earlier immature, womanising phase and his later realisation that he needs to settle down and behave more responsibly). So, a good book that is worth reading - but one that is a bit of a letdown. 6/10.
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