Thursday, 7 July 2011

THE GOOD COMPANIONS by JB Priestly

This book begins with three people suddenly deciding to escape their everyday lives and go in search of adventure. One is a middle aged spinster, whose overbearing father has just died; one is a young tutor, fired from his school; and the third is a capenter from the North who finally gets up the courage to leave his wife. All three end up involved with a small variety show, which is touring sad little British towns.

JB Priestly was most famous as a playwright, and thus this world, of provinical touring in the 1920s, is one he knew well, and he presents an entertianing picture of dirty digs and hopeful startlets. Here is a sample, where a gardener has come up and stood hands on hips in front of his employer:
This was his favourite attitude when he had anything important to say, so that Miss Trant, who knew her man, realised at once that he was bursting with news. Not that he looked excited. You cannot expect a gardener who for the last six years has won the first prize for onions (Alisa Craigs) – to say nothing of any number of minor events – at the Hitherton and District Show, to betray his feelings.

The writer is so relentlessly entertaining however that he is never less than arm's length from his characters, so I found that as a reader I was too, which meant the book became less and less involving as it went on.

Life has been described as being simply one damn thing after another, and THE GOOD COMPANIONS was certainly life-like in this way, becoming after a while rather a rather dull procession of provincial towns. By the end, I was wishing the tour would end just as much as the actors were.

4 comments:

  1. Enjoyed reading your review, Sarah! 'The Good Companions' has an interesting premise. It is interesting that in his attempt to constantly entertain the reader, Priestly ends up making the book boring after a point. I have never read a Priestly book before. I will try this sometime.

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  2. I would agree with Vishy... yep...good premise but too bad it became less involving for you. Thanks for sharing this.

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  3. It was sort of interesting, but curiously in a boring way. It's odd books like that, that you keep reading but you're not sure why!

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