Patrick Hamilton is best remembered for his plays Rope and Gaslight which were made into well-known films. However, he also wrote a number of novels and due to a resurgence of interest in his work, they are now being re-issued. Set in London's Earl's Court before the outbreak of World War II, Hangover Square is about a shy, schizophrenic loner named George Harvey Bone who has a profound infatuation with small time actress, Netta Longdon. Netta and her friends are a cruel and dissipated lot who treat George with contempt and sponge off him. George tolerates these cruelties with the hope that Netta's feelings for him will change. Since meeting Netta, George's blackouts or "dead moods" as he calls them, have become more frequent and during these schizophrenic episodes, George imagines killing Netta and moving to Maidenhead. In the end, one side of George's split personality wins out over the other. Hamilton's strength lies in his depiction of the monotonous lives of marginal people, the hotels in which they live, and the pubs, cinemas, and cafes in which they try to escape their loneliness.
May 5, 2011