A really amazing novel depicting the stark reality of Victorian London in the late nineteenth century. I came upon this author quite by accident and discovered he'd written over forty books in the latter half of the 1800's, mainly to do with social reform. Gissing seems to attack three aspects of Victorian England in this novel: poverty, bad housing, and philanthropy. His description of poverty and bad housing is painful to read. The characters are so real to life - not exaggerated, but simply real.
Thackeray wrote about sin in high-society of his day. Well, Gissing writes about sin the hovels of London. The only redeeming characters are Sidney and Jane; everyone else, though they may have some good points, in the main seeks to satisfy only themselves. Though Gissing wrote about the evil of poverty, he also shows how people react when the chips are down. The curtain is drawn aside and the true self is revealed.
Gissing seems to be saying that whatever Government is in power some people suffer as a result of their policy. These people are not prevented by their suffering from cheating on their neighbours. Whether in the Upper World or the Nether World the policy appears to be each man for himself.
An excellent book for anyone who wants to understand the minds and behaviour of the wretched poor during the Victorian era. Not a book that excites in the same way as Dicken's books do, but one which challenges the mind to understand the plight of the poor. Gissing hoped his writing would provoke people of his day into action!...Continua