The other week I bought three Patrick Hamilton Books. The first one ,‘Hangover Square’ I have already reviewed HERE. I am now reading the last of the books (The Gorse Trilogy) which I am greatly enjoying. The Slaves of Solitude is again set in London during the War. It is about spinster, Miss Roach living in the Rosamund Tea rooms boarding house: her trials and tribulations with nasty bullying boarder Mr Thwaites, false friend Vicky and Miss Roach’s very own (everyone had to have one in those days) GI Johnny, Lieutenant Dayton Pike.
Apparently there were a lot people living in Lodging houses during war time. Virtual strangers having to try to get along with each other. Yet hidden beneath a thin vaneer of politeness their increasing insecurities and uncertainties wriggle. Those poor brave souls are trying to keep a grip: hold their nerve, swallow their hysteria back down (along with large Gin and IT’s) as they attend to their mundane jobs: insisting that it’s business as usual and the show must go on don’t you know…. The only negative criticism I have about this interesting book is about the enigmatic Mr Prest, who only comes into his own at the end. He is a complete mystery to me. Why is he there? I could understand this more if his job was narrater, or if his character was to observe. Although he is always in the background (silent) he only comes alive as it were towards the end. I get the impression that his function is to provide an escape route for Miss Roach. That aside though, this is an excellent book: parts of it sad, other parts hilarious. Hamilton seems to love nasty girls (as in Netta in Hangover Square). Here we have Vicky, a casual aquaintence of Miss Roach’s who insinuates herself into the Rosemund Tea rooms and causes ructions. I am reading The Gorse Trilogy at the moment, have read the first part and am on to Mr Gorse and Mr Stimpson. It is proving very interesting.