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Union Street (1982)

av Pat Barker

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3951249,185 (3.75)69
Vivid, bawdy and bitter' (The Times), Pat Barker's first novel shows the women of Union Street, young and old, meeting the harsh challeges of poverty and survival in a precarious world. There's Kelly, at eleven, neglected and independent, dealing with a squalid rape; Dinah, knocking on sixty and still on the game; Joanne, not yet twenty, not yet married, and already pregnant; Old Alice, welcoming her impending death; Muriel helplessly watching the decline of her stoical husband. And linking them all, watching over them all, mother to half the street, is fiery, indomitable Iris.… (mer)
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» Se även 69 omnämnanden

Visa 1-5 av 12 (nästa | visa alla)
Uncompromising, unbelievably sad and harsh, ‘Union Street’ by Pat Barker does not hide the uncomfortable truths of poverty in North-East industrial England. This is the story of eight women who live on Union Street from teenager Kelly Brown to Alice Bell in her eighties and though each story is told individually, like the lives of the women, the stories interweave. An honest book about women struggling to hold life, family and home together, while retaining pride and some of their own individuality. Some succeed in this, others don’t.
This is not a book about idealised motherhood. It is about putting bread on the table for your children no matter how you do it; including beating your husband to get his pay packet before he spends it on booze. These women are tough because they have to be; the choices are the cake factory, charring, and prostitution. Many marry young to feckless husbands because they are pregnant. This is not a light read; it features scenes of rape and backstreet abortion that somehow make the prostitution a lighter route. The language is often strong and some of the descriptions are difficult to read; but it is an honest book, bleak and realistic.
The spine throughout the book is Iris King, she appears in each story and is the one most aware of other women’s lives and offers support and a word of kindness when needed. But Iris is the toughest woman in the street. Three weeks after marrying Ted, he knocks her around because she is ironing his shirts when he gets home from work when he was expecting his supper. “After he’d gone, she sat down and took stock… When he came back she was waiting for him behind the door with the meat chopper in her hand. The blow glanced off him, though there was enough blood around to scare the pair of them stiff. It didn’t stop him hitting her again, but it did free her from the fear. She never lost her self-respect.” It is that self-respect which separates Iris from the other women.
This is the first novel by Booker Prize winner Barker, but such is the excellence of the prose you would never know. The ending is raw and sad, it cannot fail to touch you.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | May 8, 2019 |
Another one from my Contemporary Women’s Writing module. This book is horrible but really really good. If that makes sense. It reads more like a collection of short stories than a novel, but it’s about a group of working class women in the 1970s, and they all have really grim lives and horrible things happen to them. Not a cheery book by any stretch of the world, but it’s really compelling. ( )
  plumtingz | Dec 14, 2017 |
Excellent portrayal of the gritty, sobering aspects of life in London neighbourhoods during the war. The characters beautifully woven together through acts of kindness and love as well as misery. Shows the various stages of life in the characters and how poverty and keeping up with traditions and upholding values that are difficult to maintain under the circumstances push one past one's own limits. ( )
  a_forester | Jun 2, 2016 |
A bleak but moving book. Pat Barker's first novel explores the lives and struggles of a group of women in the same ordinary street. Each chapter tells the story of one woman, and these stories are loosely linked. ( )
  bodachliath | May 22, 2015 |
A collection of vignettes about the residents of a northern street in the 1970s - very well written, but also incredibly bleak. I love Pat Barker's style, though she doesn't shy away from the darker, coarser elements of life, and yet I found myself laughing at the dialogue as well as cringing from some of the harsher descriptions. The chapters, focusing on the lives of seven different women, involve rape, teenage pregnancy, a young mother living in poverty, terminal illness and bereavement, abortion, prostitution and old age. Not exactly a light read!

That said, Pat Barker really does have a way with words, even more so for me because her stories are set in the north of England. In a couple of the stories - Joanne and Iris - there is a character called Mrs Harrison, who collects used condoms so she can burn them in the furnace at church. My mind boggled, but it's a very funny piece of dialogue. The language of Muriel Scaife's suffering and loss are equally powerful, but in a raw and tragic sense.

I think what makes Pat Barker's narratives work so well is the reality of the setting and the dialogue, which makes the events of each story all the more shocking, because of the reader's familiarity (and occasional sympathy) with the characters. I would hate to live in a place like Union Street, yet strong female characters always inspire me, whatever their background, and the sense of community in this novel is a welcome consequence of all the hardship and violence.

On a side note, the American film version of Iris' story - Stanley and Iris - sounds so very 'loosely based' on the novel that I wouldn't have recognised the film's origin from content alone! I had that adaptation confused with Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, which is more fitting, until I looked them both up. ( )
1 rösta AdonisGuilfoyle | Nov 5, 2013 |
Visa 1-5 av 12 (nästa | visa alla)
Miss Barker skillfully employs the factory setting to touch on matters like automation, race prejudice, feeblemindedness and the sheer human hardship experienced by some of those trapped on the assembly line. . . Pat Barker gives the sense of a writer who has enormous power that she has scarcely had to tap to write a first-rate first novel.
tillagd av christiguc | ändraNew York Times, Ivan Gold (Oct 2, 1983)
 

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Pat Barkerprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Bruurmijn, JoséÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Dallatorre, MarcellaÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
De Silva, ElizabethBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Ewerlöf, KatarinaBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Hartmann, ElisabethÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Møller-Madsen, LisbethÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Nielsen, HanneBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Páez de la Cadena, FranciscoÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Preis, AnnikaÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Tachibana, KaoruÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Teixidor, Valentí DaurellaÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Wulfsberg, CamillaÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Wikipedia på engelska (1)

Vivid, bawdy and bitter' (The Times), Pat Barker's first novel shows the women of Union Street, young and old, meeting the harsh challeges of poverty and survival in a precarious world. There's Kelly, at eleven, neglected and independent, dealing with a squalid rape; Dinah, knocking on sixty and still on the game; Joanne, not yet twenty, not yet married, and already pregnant; Old Alice, welcoming her impending death; Muriel helplessly watching the decline of her stoical husband. And linking them all, watching over them all, mother to half the street, is fiery, indomitable Iris.

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