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In Pursuit of the English

Year First Published: 1961
First Published by:Simon and Schuster
This Edition:American first edition

From the cover:

In Pursuit of the English is a first-class novelist's account of the lusty, quarrelsome, unscrupulous, funny, pathetic, full-blooded life in a working-class rooming house. It is a shrewd and unsentimental picture of Londoners you've probably never met or even read about - though they are the real English.

In swift, barbed style, in high, hard, farcical writing that is eruptively funny, Doris Lessing records the joys and terrors of everyday life. The truth of her perception shines through the pages of a work that makes a permanent addition to writing about the English.

For a partial cast of characters, please turn to the back of the jacket.

Doris Lessing's story of life in a lusty London rooming house is a true document that reads like a novel. The cast of characters - if that term can be applied to real people - includes:
    Rose, a tart practical virgin who knows what she wants, has firm views of everyone and everything.

    Miss Privet, a prostitute, who replied to Mrs. Lessing's question, "Don't you ever like sex?" with "If you're going to talk dirty, I'm not interested."

    Dan, an operator who owns the house, his wife Flo, who cooks nine-course Sunday dinners, taught by her Italian grandmother, and their 3-year-old daughter, Oar (for Aurora), who won't eat but likes to play a game where she stabs and beats a cushion, exclaiming that her uncle's dead, daddy's happy, mommy's crying - "Dead. Dead. Dead."

    Mrs. Skeffington, a genteel woman who bullies her small child and flings herself down two flights of stairs to avoid having another.

    Bobby Brent (alias Mrs. MacNamara alias Mr. Ponsonby), a con-man, a spiv, who lives with a compelling anxiety to trick and cheat people, but who can't parry the barbed remarks of working-class passengers on a bus.

These and a dozen wonderful others open doors for a brilliant writer In Pursuit of the English.
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