Coming up for Air

Coming up for Air

Book - 1939
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George Bowling, the hero of this comic novel, is a middle-aged insurance salesman who lives in an average English suburban row house with a wife and two children. One day, after winning some money from a bet, he goes back to the village where he grew up, to fish for carp in a pool he remembers from thirty years before. The pool, alas, is gone, the village has changed beyond recognition, and the principal event of his holiday is an accidental bombing by the RAF.
Publisher: London : Secker & Warburg, c1939.
ISBN: 9780436350023
Characteristics: 237 p.


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redban Feb 02, 2015

Another piece to understanding the author behind Animal Farm and Nineteen Eight-Four. Every Orwell book I've read has been either enlightening or at the very least witty and funny.

Ellington4's review below is right on. This book is similar in style to "Down and Out in Paris and London".

Most recommended: "Homage to Catalonia"

Mar 19, 2014

George Orwell wrote lots of other things than 1984 and Animal Farm. He wrote other, even finer novels and many essays on a wide range of subjects. This comic novel is absolutely wonderful. Its narrator/protagonist is a 45-year-old self-described, fat insurance agent, who feels heavily burdened by his routine life in a London suburb. He decides to "come up for air" and spend a week in the country town where he grew up at the turn of the 20th Century, which he hasn't seen in 20 years. In the first half of the book he recalls his boyhood in vivid, poetic language (the book is said to be largely autobiographical). When he does go home, he finds an alien place--a 20,000 population city where he cannot recognize anyplace and is known by nobody. The book sharply satirizes spreading suburban life, and its effect on older English patterns. Orwell wrote Coming Up For Air in 1938, after returning from the Spanish Civil War. While comic, the book also has unsettling signs of a quickly coming Second World War, which the narrator acknowledges. The blurb on the book's cover calls Coming Up For Air a "minor masterpiece." It is, it most certainly is.

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