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Lynne Reid Banks
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message 1: by Nigeyb (last edited Feb 04, 2014 02:16PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3940 comments Mod
I'm not sure all of Lynne Reid Banks' output could be describe as Hamilton-esque, however I am currently reading...




The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks

I've been meaning to read this book for ages and I am delighted to be finally getting down to it.

Mark, Val and Sarah have all seperately recommended it to me and I trust their judgement completely. Mark thinks it's right up there with 'Adrift in Soho' and also somewhat reminiscent of 'Craven House' & 'The Slaves of Solitude' because it chronicles the lives of people on the fringes of society thrown together in a boarding house.

I'm at around the halfway point as I type this, and I have to agree. It's accessible, well written, evoking a sense of time and place, has a strong central character, and it's credible.

It's amazing how much attitudes have changed since the book was published in 1960 and set - so far as I can make out - in the late 1950s. Abortions are still illegal, the pill has yet to be invented, and an unmarried and pregnant woman will still attract condemnation.

Jane, the pregnant narrator, is chucked out of her widowed father's home as a consequence of getting pregnant. She also faces the stigma of being an unmarried mother who is transformed from a clean living middle class office girl employed in a prestigious job, to being little better than the prostitutes that live in the basement of her new home.

The book perfectly captures the misery and uncertainly her predicament has caused. What is also beautifully captured are the hints of a changing world: one of her new friends is a recently arrived West Indian, another a slightly bohemian writer, and she gets to know the prostitutes who live in the basement. All these new friends offer her the warmth, friendship and acceptance that her own widowed father has been too buttoned up to ever give her. Some of the characters conform to fairly simple stereotypes but that's a minor quibble and - so far - it's another excellent read, and another great recommendation courtesy of the wonderful denizens of The Patrick Hamilton Appreciation Society.

Thanks so much.


message 2: by Nigeyb (last edited Feb 04, 2014 02:16PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3940 comments Mod
I also intend to listen to this tomorrow....



BBC Radio 4 Book Club - Lynne Reid Banks

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sl3y1

James Naughtie and readers talk to the celebrated author Lynne Reid Banks about her first novel, The L-Shaped Room. It was an instant success and has been in print ever since it was published exactly fifty years ago.

It's the story of Jane, a single young woman who falls pregnant. Reading The L-Shaped Room again in 2010, it's easy to forget what a taboo it was to be pregnant and unmarried in the early 1960s.

Jane is a brave character who decides to bring up the baby by herself, after her father throws her out. But her feelings are mixed, and as almost a punishment to herself she rents a grubby L-shaped room at the top of a run- down boarding house in Fulham.

Gradually as she settles in and does up the room, she makes friends, and in tandem with the improvements to her surroundings, her life gets better.

This is a novel that has inspired young women to independence, whatever their situations. Readers in the audience describe what this book means to them - from a woman whose own mother brought her up single-handedly to another who says that the line about Jane having to wear a wedding ring 'brought it all back.'

Lynne Reid Banks was one of the first female news-reporters at ITN. Although she complained she was always given 'soft stories' she did not consider herself a feminist at the time, which is ironic, as the L-Shaped Room is considered as a feminist novel.

Recorded with a group of twenty-five readers in the studio, Bookclub with Lynne Reid Banks is a lively discussion with a writer looking back at the book that changed her life as well as many readers' lives. James Naughtie chairs the programme.



message 3: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 102 comments Another great find, Nigeyb. Thank-you.


message 4: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments I've got the second and third installments of her L-Shaped Trilogy nearing the top of the stack next to my bed, and am quite looking forward to them.


message 5: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3940 comments Mod
^ I'll be very interested to learn what you make of them Mark.


message 6: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3940 comments Mod
I finished The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks last night. Here's my review...



It's easy to forget how completely different the late 1950s were in Britain when compared with 2014. "The L-Shaped Room" by Lynne Reid Banks is a perfect time capsule that puts us right back into that era. Even for readers who know about the differences it still a shocking read. Crass and cliched racial stereotypes abound and, lest we forget, this was how the majority of British people perceived "foreigners" living in Britain, and - at this book's heart - just what a taboo it was to be pregnant and unmarried.

"The L-Shaped Room" tells the story of Jane, a single young woman who falls pregnant. Jane is a brave character who decides to bring up the baby by herself, after her father throws her out of home. Her feelings of determination are also saturated by shame. To punish herself she rents a sordid L-shaped room at the top of a run- down boarding house in Fulham. To say more would be to ruin a story that initially felt incidental but became more compelling towards the book's conclusion.

The L-Shaped Room brilliantly evokes a grim era when women were routinely patronised and made to feel guilty, and when being single and pregnant exacerbated this treatment. It also perfectly chronicles the lives of people on the fringes of society thrown together in a boarding house. I realise this might make the book sound depressing, and it contains plenty of downbeat sections, however ultimately it is a novel about courage, friendship, self-discovery, family, and redemption. I thought it was a great read.

After reading the book I listened to a discussion with Lynne Reid Banks on BBC Radio 4's Book Club programme which was really interesting and further enhanced my enjoyment. Click here to listen.

4/5


message 7: by Greg (last edited Sep 21, 2016 05:53AM) (new)

Greg | 159 comments I have just read The L-Shaped Room. I was eager to read the book from Nigeyb's review, and also listening to the BBC Bookclub interview with Lynne Reid Banks.
I loved the book. I gave it five stars, and enjoyed writing a review. I have ordered the other two books in the trilogy, Two is Lonely and The Backward Shadow.


message 8: by Greg (new)

Greg | 159 comments Here is my review of The L-Shaped Room

Here is a review by Greg: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 9: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3940 comments Mod
Great stuff Greg. I will be very interested to learn what you make of the subsequent volumes.


message 10: by Greg (new)

Greg | 159 comments I certainly will report back Nigeyb, they're on their way in the post, I should get them soon. Some of the GR reviews says the other two novels aren't as good as the first book, but I am not letting that influence me. A book is a personal experience for each person.


message 11: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3940 comments Mod
Here's a treat ... Cathi Unsworth writes about 'The L-Shaped Room....


http://www.londonfictions.com/lynne-r...

Interesting selection of references and further reading at the bottom of the article...
​​
Max Décharné, King’s Road, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005
Nell Dunn, Up The Junction, MacGibbon & Kee, 1963
Anthony Frewin, London Blues, No Exit Press, 1997
Stewart Home, Tainted Love, Virgin Books, 2005
Colin MacInnes, City of Spades, MacGibbon & Kee, 1957
Colin MacInnes, Absolute Beginners, MacGibbon & Kee, 1959
Brian McConnell, Found Naked and Dead, New English Library, 1975
Anthony Richardson, Nick of Notting Hill, Harrap, 1965
Mim Scala, Diary of a Teddy Boy, Sitric Books, 2000
Samuel Selvon, The Lonely Londoners, Wingate, 1956
Tom Vague, Getting it Straight in Notting Hill Gate, Vague Publishing, 2009
Colin Wilson, The Angry Years: A Literary Chronicle, Robson, 2007


message 12: by Greg (new)

Greg | 159 comments Here's a blog post by Lynne Reid Banks.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?stor...


message 13: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3940 comments Mod
Thanks Greg


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