Patrick Hamilton isn’t really as well known as he should be, which is a crime and a shame. He is a fantastic and yet underrated British writers of the post-war era. You may recognise his work in the play Rope which was turned into a well-known Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name.
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky is a trilogy of novels in one. It’s as bleak as its setting – the rain strewn wintery London streets in the weeks and months before World War II.
This is the ultimate tale of longing, loneliness and sexual desperation. A young man Bob works hard as a waiter and scrimps and saves. He dreams of one day becoming a famous novelist. Then he meets a pretty girl Jenny. Who is capricious, immature and toys with his emotions horribly. We witness his unpredictable emotions oscillate wildly between infatuation, confusion and violent frustration. It’s a disturbing, edge of your seat thriller, fueled by enormous amounts of alcohol and cigarettes imbibed in the shadows of a London pub called The Midnight Bell. This is the tale of how a group of young people find their way through life during one of darkest and most foreboding periods of Britain’s history.
If there would be a soundtrack to this novel it would be some deep, gritty dubstep or perhaps some hard and dark post-punk by Joy Division or some Nick Cave. This is a visceral and powerfully moving novel and you can feel the pain of the characters and their emotional powerlessness and loneliness in your bones. It’s immensely unsettling and the kind of book that stays with you, becomes a part of you in a way. It is not a light read in any sense of the word, it’s heavy but it’s brilliant. 5*/5
2 thoughts on “Book Review: Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky: A London Trilogy by Patrick Hamilton”
Sounds like another must-read. No idea where you get the time to read so voraciously Catnip. You will seriously deplete my bank account, given all your Japanese novel recommendations on my list.😊 😊
I have turned away from netflix and TV mostly because it’s mostly rubbish, I don’t really find it relaxing any more. So any free time I have I either go for walks, talk to friends on the phone or read. Such is the excitement of my life LOL. I think you would like this one Kev, but be warned that it is a bit bleak and dark. BTW I don’t really buy all of these books, but borrow them from the library or find them serendipitously in charity shops hehe. Take care and speak soon! 🙂