Title: Keep the Aspidistra Flying
Author: George Orwell
Page Count/Review Word Count: 264
This is Orwell at his more traditional, the Orwell of Coming Up for Air and not the Orwell of Animal Farm and 1984. But saying that, despite the more old-school approach to narrative, Keep the Aspidistra Flying is not without its political messages.
Gordon Comstock is a published poet, just about. His first book of poetry, called ‘Mice‘, sold several hundred copies and then stopped selling, and London Pleasures, his masterpiece, has stagnated. Sick of capitalism and sick of society, Gordon quits his job as a copywriter at an advertising agency and takes a job at a book shop, for poor wages and long hours.
Orwell’s novel charts his progress through working-class London, as he tries to woo a young woman called Rosemary on a shoestring budget – he just can’t go back to the old firm, that would mean admitting defeat to the money god.
While it’s a good story, it tends to drag on a bit and Gordon starts to grate on your nerves – he’s arrogant and a bit of a bastard. It’s always hard to read a book when you dislike the protagonist, but you do so anyway because it’s Orwell and his writing is still compelling.
But then you get to the ending, and you wonder if it was all worth it. It’s sudden, and a letdown in some inexplicable way. I’ll say no more, I don’t want to ruin it. ’cause you’re still going to read it, right?