Picture of author.

Philip Hensher

Autor(a) de The Northern Clemency

27+ Works 2,464 Membros 76 Críticas 1 Favorited

About the Author

Obras por Philip Hensher

The Northern Clemency (2008) 806 exemplares
The Mulberry Empire (2002) 345 exemplares
King of the Badgers (2011) 217 exemplares
Scenes from Early Life (2012) 106 exemplares
The Emperor Waltz (2014) 94 exemplares
Kitchen Venom (1996) 56 exemplares
The Friendly Ones (2018) 47 exemplares
Pleasured (1998) 42 exemplares
The Fit (2004) 42 exemplares
A Small Revolution in Germany (2020) 39 exemplares
The Bedroom of the Mister's Wife (1999) 27 exemplares
Other Lulus (1994) 25 exemplares
Berlin stories (2019) 23 exemplares
BP Portrait Award 2005 (2005) 16 exemplares
Tales of Persuasion (2016) 15 exemplares
To Battersea Park (2023) 15 exemplares
Molesworth 2 exemplares
Dead Languages 1 exemplar
My dog Ian (2005) 1 exemplar

Associated Works

The Gate of Angels (1990) — Introdução, algumas edições874 exemplares
The Corner That Held Them (1948) — Introdução, algumas edições590 exemplares
The Soul of Kindness (1964) — Introdução, algumas edições390 exemplares
Granta 81: Best of Young British Novelists 2003 (2003) — Contribuidor — 273 exemplares
Granta 65: London (1999) — Contribuidor — 222 exemplares
The Oxford Book of English Short Stories (1998) — Contribuidor — 197 exemplares
Granta 76: Music (2001) — Contribuidor — 156 exemplares
Granta 56: What Happened to Us? (1996) — Contribuidor — 125 exemplares
The Stately Homo: A Celebration of the Life of Quentin Crisp (2000) — Contribuidor — 60 exemplares
Why Willows Weep: Contemporary Tales from the Woods (2011) — Contribuidor — 22 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum



This is a novel divided into four sections that read like short stories but all heading in the same direction: freedom. The first is set in the pandemic era and is Hensher and his husband (or that is how I read it) during lockdown describing what happens on their street. There are the joggers, the walkers, the little boy naming trees with his Observer book of Trees and then there are the neighbours Stuart and Gio. Their house had always been party house for family and friends and so it continued throughout the lockdowns despite the rules. There was alcohol, shouting, abduction and police on one memorable occasion, all with Hensher and partner imagining what was happening in between the bits they could see. This is of course writers we are talking about and so being free to make up tales about your neighbours was one of the grand entertainments.

The description of the time as an 'iterative mood' was for me very apposite. When I look back now to try and date something, I can't. Every day was the same, pleasant but the same. If asked to say when something happened, I am reduced to saying if it was before or after lockdown and sometimes even failing that. There was something reassuring about this section; comfortable and middle class.

In 'Free Indirect Style' we look at the lives of people in London under the microscope, opening outwards from the street but looking in in more detail. There's the writer being interviewed, a woman slipping into dementia, Hensher's mother and siblings falling out over what to do with her along with a builder and his second wife and his children. The consequences of actions are often what books are all about and this story relates the consequences of the builder not going round to a local house to mend the broken stair rod. These consequences spread and affect a lot of people that they come into contact with, not unlike a virus.

The 'hero' takes a journey away from his environement - a very greek title and now the story broadens out in both time and space to the dystopian future of the fifth lockdown where society has broken down. Here, Quentin, a gay muscle man, sets off on a journey to visit his boyfriend in Ramsgate but the breakdown in society loosens inhibitions and in a short space of time he refuses to pay for a plant and takes it, slaps a woman across the face and then stabs and kills Simon who he is walking with. The journey away from his environment is not just literal but also metaphorical. After reading this story, I wondered how we had got to this point but in fact it was not with one giant leap but several smaller steps. Does it start with the prime minister not following his own rules?

We then come full circle back to the boy who identified the trees in the street. William. His father's suicide releases him from an oppressive, abusive parent who is never satisfied with his son. Here I found the book a bit hard to understand as we move into a dream of sorts with a flood and William finding a boat tied to a tree - a tree that was important in the first story. Was this William finding his own freedom?

The book as a whole explores what freedom means - is it being able to roam anywhere at any time or is it free to think any thoughts? Running throughout the book was a theme of writers and writers' block and perhaps how the lack of feeling free affects the freedom of ideas and therefore writing. Were some of these stories a rewilding of the imagination? I'm not sure, but I think that several stories were autofiction and that the structure replicated the spread of the virus until it was totally free and out there in society. A very interesting idea.
… (mais)
allthegoodbooks | 1 outra crítica | May 14, 2024 |
Four novellas, three autofiction. Set across the years of the pandemic. The first and last tell the story of the 'writer' and his husband both of whom have covid in the early months. The second about his parents. The first part was my favourite in how it showed for many, being so restricted in what they could do, became more observant of what they could see in the world, and how sometimes their imaginations ran away with themselves.

The title of the book referring to the fact that the narrator could only walk to Battersea Park, but could never enter it, as it took half an hour to get home, and the State said one was only permitted to be out for an hour.

The third part was perhaps a kind of covid nightmare.
… (mais)
Caroline_McElwee | 1 outra crítica | Jun 11, 2023 |
This is not my usual style of novel....despite it being my beloved historical fiction. I picked it up at a used book store, sat down and fell in love in the first chapter. After that things get sketchy. I was bored for much of the first third of the book...not so much with the author's style, which is beautiful and poignant and gritty, but with the procession of a number of skimming-the-surface characters. As we go back and forth and get to know each better I did find my heroes and the book held my interest more fully. All of the seemingly surface characters didn't feel overwhelming to me as other readers have mentioned. I enjoyed the peeks into the misconceptions of our main characters. The pervading emotion through all of the book though is one of a poignant looking-back, which took me out of the time and place, placing me here as a reader rather than inside the world. It's a horrible, human and inhumane story encompassing war in it's regular sense and war of the classes and cultures, all historical or perfectly plausible as such. Beautiful writing....I will certainly be seeking out more by this author.… (mais)
Martialia | 7 outras críticas | Sep 28, 2022 |
A chunky family saga set in Sheffield starting in the 70s and ending 20 years later. A definite start but a meandering dribble of an end. Interesting enough as it went along. The parents and children of two neighbouring families have each of their lives periodically investigated and laid out. Middle class life in a northern English city in the 70s and 80s. There's not much more to say about it.
Steve38 | 31 outras críticas | Feb 11, 2022 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by
½ 3.7
Marcado como favorito

Tabelas & Gráficos