Click. George Harvey Bone realises he must kill Netta Longdon. He can’t possibly be peaceful and contented while she lives. He must kill Netta and then he can go to Maidenhead and stop drinking and be happy.
Click. George Harvey Bone feels a desperate rush of tenderness for Netta Longdon. She agonises him with the unholy beauty of her red scarf matching her red slippers on her dark self. ‘Have some pale ale’, she says, pointing to the bottle with a kick of her red-slippered foot. ‘You’ll find a glass somewhere.’
It’s 1939 and the threat of the Second World War is looming over fog-bound London. In the pubs of darkest Earls Court, George Harvey Bone is lovelorn and luckless, hopelessly pining for Netta Longdon – a so-called aspiring actress and undoubtably one of literature’s vainest, coldest and cruelest love interests. Bone is tortured by his feelings for contemptuous Netta, until – click – he has one of his ‘dead’ moments and he calmly decides to kill her. Part thriller and part black comedy, the sense of foreboding is tangible as the grinding inevitability of history and human frailty is drawn with delicious darkness to its inescapable conclusion.
Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl’s Court (1941) is Patrick Hamilton’s most celebrated novel, but we don’t feel it’s celebrated enough…so we’ve chosen it for our first Luxury Book Club evening, a members club for London book lovers.
Undoubtably one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, Hangover Square perfectly distills the seedy life of lodging houses, gas fires and saloon bars in between-the-wars London. As Keith Waterhouse said, ‘You can almost smell the gin.’
Our evening will consist of some sparkling book-chat from our panel of brilliant guests: Mark Farrelly (writer and star of The Silence of Snow: The Life of Patrick Hamilton), Dr. Anne Witchard (Westminster University) and Declan Ryan (Faber New Poet and Days of Roses). The discussion will be chaired by South London Hardcore’s Steven Walsh and there’ll be lots of opportunities for the audience to participate in the conversation.