- Glasgow, United Kingdom
- My name is Lynsay, and I've decided to start blogging about the books I've been reading, so that I have reviews that I can look back on about the range of books and genres that I have read. I was very lucky to receive a Sony eReader for my birthday, and since then, I've been reading even more!! I read anything and everything, happy to give any style or genre a try!
Monday, 31 January 2011
Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene
I've heard of this book, and of Graham Greene, quite a few times over the years, but it had never quite grabbed my interest enough to pick up and read - I've always got a long list of other books waiting to be read! However, I saw that the film adaptation was due to come out, and when discussing it with my friend, she said that she had read the book and it turned out to be one of the best books she'd ever read. That intrigued me, so I decided to read the book before the film came out... and I'm SO glad I did.
The story is set in the 30's, revolving around a cast of characters in Brighton, who are brought together as part of a larger story arc. Its very cinematic in style, changing from scene to scene very quickly, which I think will be adapted to film very well.
The story revolves around Pinkie Brown, a 17 year old who has elected himself leader of a gang in Brighton after the previous leader has been murdered, after being betrayed by a journalist called Hale. In order to take revenge, Pinkie murders Hale, and arranges an alibi to protect himself and the rest of the gang. Unfortunately for Pinkie, this murder and its consequences cause a spiral into a desperate situation, forcing him to take ever more desperate measures to cover up his original murder. Rose, an innocent young girl, is also dragged into the nightmare, as the only person who could ruin the gang's alibi. In order to prevent her from revealing anything incriminating, Pinkie is forced to marry her, as wives cannot give evidence against their husbands in a court of law. Ida Arnold is Pinkie's nemesis in this tale, slowly piecing together the circumstances of the murder and attempting to bring Pinkie to justice and save Rose from her sociopathic husband.
The story of Pinkie's struggle to keep control and how actions and their consequences can ripple out and touch the lives of many unrelated people is fascinating. In the process of setting up his gang's alibi, Pinkie and some of his men come into contact with Rose at Snow's, the restaurant where she works. Ida Arnold happened to meet Hale shortly before he is murdered by Pinkie, and is driven to seek out the truth by her utter belief that he came to harm because she didn't stay with him. After Ida realises who is behind the murder, she relentlessly pursues Pinkie, asking questions and slowly closing the net around him, which pushes him into extreme behaviour as he tries to rescue his situation.
I found the most intriguing character to be Rose. Seemingly innocent, I think she was actually very ambiguous. Its never quite clear exactly how much she knows about the murder, or if she realises how vital her knowledge of the murder is. There are several moments throughout the book that make me believe that she is much more aware than she lets on, but allows the marriage to proceed because she has truly fallen in love with Pinkie. Its also interesting as Pinkie hates her throughout the book, but I think that is due to the similarities he sees between their backgrounds and upbringing, and that Pinkie maybe sees a lot of himself in Rose. There are moments when he appears to start caring for her, but they are overshadowed by his own determination to be in absolute control at all costs.
The tension in the book in fantastic, with an ominous building and building of suspense until the shocking finale. This is a fantastic book, and can easily stand next to any contemporary writing with regards to characterisation, plot, and pacing. Its a fairly short read - it was under 200 pages on my ereader - but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and plan to re-read, and look out some more Graham Greene novels in the future! A solid four stars from me, its a very very good book, and I'm looking forward to seeking out more Graham Greene in the future.